Each year more individuals worldwide die from cancer than malaria, tuberculosis and HIV combined. With research showing that many cancers can be prevented with healthy lifestyle choices, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) is working to raise awareness of preventive tactics in honor of National Cancer Prevention Month.
In the past year, SCCA has intensified research efforts to highlight ways to improve the odds that a person can avoid cancer beyond current lifestyle strategies. This commitment to precision medicine is demonstrated through efforts to identify genetic risk factors, understand the biology of each patient's specific disease and tailor therapies accordingly.
"Whether it's simply eating more greens or taking your dog out for an extra walk each day, the first step towards living a healthy lifestyle is identifying what small things can be altered in your routine to ignite change," said Scott Ramsey, M.D cancer prevention expert and head of Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research. "The fact remains that people with a healthy lifestyle have a better chance of avoiding cancer and at SCCA we're committed to not only turning cancer patients into cancer survivors, but also educating our community on how to help prevent their risk of cancer in the first place."
In February, SCCA also launched a new partnership with C89.5, Nathan Hale High School's student run radio station, for the "Do One Thing" campaign that promotes healthy lifestyle choices for people of all ages. This campaign extends across radio, social media, and events, to help promote student generated messages about the importance of little steps towards a healthier lifestyle. SCCA suggests the following healthy lifestyle choices to help reduce the risk of cancer:
•Avoid tobacco: Research shows that people who begin smoking as teenagers suffer more damage than those who begin smoking as adults. Model responsible behavior for your children. The best idea is to never smoke.
•Exercise regularly: Exercising 30 minutes a day, three to four times a week may help decrease the risk of several types of cancer, including colorectal and prostate cancer.
•Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day: Research shows that eating at least five servings a day can reduce the risk of bladder, colorectal, esophageal, lung, prostate, and stomach cancers. Plan your meals in advance to include fruits and veggies.
•Maintain a healthy weight: By incorporating a healthy diet and a regular exercise program into your life, you can lose weight, keep it off, and improve your overall health and chances of getting certain cancers.
•Limit time in the sun: Skin damage occurs over time and studies have shown that children tend to get 80 percent of their lifetime exposure by age 18. Limit the amount of time you and your children are in the sun, especially between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
•Limit alcohol consumption: One drink a day has been found to reduce some health risks, but it can also increase the risk of some types of cancer, such as breast cancer. Model good behavior and limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
•Protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases: Preventable strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV) are linked to 70 percent of all cervical cancer cases. Adolescent vaccination dramatically reduces a child's risk of transmitting or contracting cancer-causing HPV in adulthood. While vaccination is a great first step, it does not ensure complete protection and adults should still practice safe sex to fully protect themselves.
•Get annual check-ups and screenings: Annual check-ups and screenings are the best line of defense in terms of early detection.
•Learn your family's history of cancer and disease: Talk with your doctor about your family history of cancer and other diseases. Some types of cancer such as breast, colorectal, ovarian, and prostate cancers run in families.
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance