According to the Canadian Cancer Society, at least half of all cancers can be prevented through healthy living and policies that protect the health of Canadians. Hastings Prince Edward Public Health recommends that you make the lifestyle choices below, which have been shown to reduce the risk of developing cancer.
Avoid smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women in Canada. Smoking causes about 30% of all cancer deaths in Canada. Other cancers that are linked to smoking include cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, oesophagus, colon, rectum, and bladder.
People exposed to second-hand smoke are also at higher risk of getting lung cancer and other lung diseases.
Eat plenty of vegetables, fruit, and whole grains each day.
As much as one third of all cancers may be related to what we eat and drink. Follow the guidelines listed in Canada’s Food Guide. You will benefit from eating vegetables and fruit at all meals and as snacks. Make at least half of your daily grain products whole grain such as barley, brown rice, and oats. Limit foods and beverages high in calories, fat, and sugar.
Limit alcohol use.
Alcohol consumption is related to cancer of the pharynx, esophagus, larynx, colon, rectum, liver, and oral cavity in both men and women, as well as the breast in women (even at low levels of consumption).
Overall cancer risk is determined by the average volume of alcohol consumed, the patterns of drinking, and by the amount of drinking that occurs outside of meals.
To lower your cancer risk it is recommended that you follow the Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines developed by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Be physically active most days of the week.
Physical inactivity has been linked to colon and breast cancer. Thirty to sixty minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week is part of a healthy lifestyle and can help lower your risk of cancer.
Protect Your Skin.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada and can usually be prevented. Everyone can be at risk for skin cancer. It is most often caused by UV radiation from over-exposure to the sun and from using tanning beds. Tanning beds are a concentrated source of UV radiation. Using tanning beds before the age of 35 increases the risk of skin cancer by 75%. It is now illegal in Ontario to provide tanning services to youth under 18 years. To reduce your risk of skin cancer, practice sun safety year round and avoid tanning beds.
It is important to be familiar with your skin. Most skin cancers can be cured if caught early enough. Know the location and appearance of birthmarks and moles. Check your skin regularly so you can detect any changes. Only a doctor can tell you if the changes are normal or not.
Talk to your doctor about regular cancer screening.
Participating in approved cancer screening programs can reduce your risk of cancer. Screening for cancer has been proven effective in finding cancer early and reducing cancer death rates. Use this simple tool to assess the cancers for which you should be screened.