Attention Laurel Patients:  The new Laurel office is open. The address is 7140 Contee Road, Suite 3500, Laurel, MD 20707….Attention Lanham Patients: Our new Largo office will be opening Monday,  June 17th and our Lanham location will be closed permanently. Largo’s address is 9333 Healthcare Way Suite 4100 Largo, MD 20774.

Cancer Causes and Risk: What You Need to Know

Person holding a lit cigarette

Cancer is a formidable adversary that affects millions of lives worldwide. While there’s no way to eliminate the risk of cancer altogether, understanding the factors that contribute to it can help you make informed choices and reduce your risk. In honor of February’s National Cancer Prevention Month, we will explore the impact of lifestyle factors, other cancer risk factors, and the importance of regular screenings in the fight against cancer.

The Influence of Lifestyle Factors

Several lifestyle factors can impact your cancer risk, including: 

Diet: A Powerful Ally in Cancer Prevention

Your diet plays a pivotal role in your overall health and can significantly impact your cancer risk. Some dietary choices may increase your susceptibility to cancer, while others can lower it.

Tip: Opt for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limit your consumption of processed foods, red and processed meats, and sugary beverages. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet can also reduce your risk of several types of cancer.

Exercise: Move to Decrease Risk

A sedentary lifestyle is associated with an increased risk of cancer. Regular physical activity helps you maintain a healthy weight and has direct cancer-preventing effects.

Tip: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. Incorporate activities you enjoy to make staying active a sustainable habit.

RELATED: NUTRITION AND CANCER: HARNESSING THE HEALING POWER OF FOOD FOR CANCER PATIENTS

Smoking: One of the Biggest Lung Cancer Risk Factors

Smoking is a well-known risk factor for lung cancer, but it also increases the risk of many other cancers, including throat, mouth, esophagus, bladder, and more.

Tip: Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your health. Seek support from smoking cessation programs, medications, or counseling to kick the habit.

Alcohol and Cancer Risk: Consumption Link to Multiple Cancers

Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of various cancers, including mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and breast cancer.

Tip: If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Limit your intake to one drink per day for women and up to two for men.

Additional Cancer Risk Factors

Additional cancer risk factors include: 

Family History and Genetics

A family history of cancer can elevate your risk, particularly if close relatives have had breast, ovarian, or prostate cancer. Risk factors for colorectal cancer can also be hereditary. Genetic mutations like BRCA1 and BRCA2 can also increase susceptibility.

Tip: Discuss your family history with your healthcare provider. They can assess your risk and recommend appropriate screening and prevention strategies.

Age and Gender

Cancer risk increases with age, and some cancers are more prevalent in specific genders. Regular screenings are essential as you grow older.

Tip: Follow age-appropriate cancer screening guidelines. Mammograms, Pap smears, colonoscopies, and prostate exams are essential for early detection and prevention.

Environmental Exposures

Exposure to environmental toxins, such as asbestos, radon, and certain chemicals, can raise cancer risk. Workplace safety measures are critical for individuals in high-risk occupations.

Tip: If you work in a potentially hazardous environment, follow safety guidelines and wear appropriate protective gear.

The Importance of Regular Screenings

Regular and consistent cancer screenings are crucial for early detection and intervention. The earlier cancer is detected, the higher the chances of successful treatment. Understanding cancer risk factors and taking proactive steps to reduce them is vital to cancer prevention. 

By making healthier lifestyle choices, being aware of your family history, and prioritizing regular screenings, you can empower yourself in the fight against cancer. 

This National Cancer Prevention Month, commit to making informed choices and spreading awareness about the importance of early detection and prevention. To learn more about your cancer risk, contact Maryland Oncology Hematology. We can help with questions, provide genetic risk assessments, and offer cancer screenings.