How can I reduce my risk for cancer?
Jean Schulman, MD, is an oncologist with Banner Arizona Medical Clinic in Peoria.
Question: What daily habits will reduce my risk of cancer?
Answer: First, don’t smoke, and drink alcohol moderately if at all – average no more than one drink daily for women, and two for men.
Also, keep your weight in a healthy range with a combination of a healthy diet and moderate exercise. In fact, the same lifestyle that is good for the prevention of cardiac disease may also be useful for preventing cancer: get five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, limit unhealthy fats and avoid processed foods.
Last, remember to limit your sun exposure by covering up or wearing sunscreen when outdoors.
Question: If I’ve had one cancer, am I more likely to get another type of cancer?
Answer: In general the answer is “yes,” but for two very different reasons.
Someone who has had one cancer caused by smoking, such as lung cancer, is more likely than a non-smoker to get another smoking-related cancer such as cancer of the throat, esophagus, pancreas, kidneys, bladder or cervix. Smoking is the most significant, preventable risk factor for cancer we know. If you are smoker, my advice is find a way quit.
There are also genetic influences. Some patients have genetic mutations that make them susceptible to more than one kind of cancer. For example, research has shown a connection between breast and ovarian cancers. If you have had one cancer, your physician may talk to you about screenings you should consider for a related cancer.