Did you know May 12-18 is National Women’s Health Week? The intention of this nationally recognized week is to empower women to make their health a priority and encourage them to focus on improving both physical and mental health and wellness to help lower their risk of certain diseases.
Statistics estimate that 1 out of 3 women will develop cancer. The American Cancer Society estimated that there would be 805,500 new cases of cancer diagnosed in women in 2013. The most common types of cancer diagnosed in women include breast, colorectal, endometrial, lung, cervical, skin, and ovarian cancers.
As a woman, you may be asking if there is anything you can do to improve your health and reduce your risk of cancer or cancer recurrence. There are several factors that may increase your risk of developing or having cancer recurrence.
Follow these 8 tips to help lower your risk for cancer and cancer recurrence.
- Stop smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Lung cancer kills more women in the US than any other type of cancer, and cigarette smoking causes most cases.
- Be physically active every day. Exercise has multiple benefits, including lowering your risk of cancer and other diseases. Aim for a total of 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
- Achieve or maintain a healthy weight. There is convincing evidence and emerging research that being overweight increases your risk of developing cancer and reduces the odds of survival of many cancers. Follow a healthy diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low fat dairy. Use methods to help moderate your portion sizes and always aim to incorporate activity into your lifestyle.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Research suggests that eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day can reduce cancer risk and recurrence.
- Reduce your intake of highly processed meats and red meat. There have been several studies that link eating large amounts of red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and processed meat with higher risk for colorectal and stomach cancers. It is recommended that individuals eat less than 18 oz of red meat per week and avoid highly processed meats such as sausage, bacon, hot dogs, bologna, and luncheon meats.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Some research shows that even small amounts of alcohol can increase cancer risk. If you drink alcohol, it is recommended that women limit their intake to 1 drink daily.
- For women of childbearing age, consider breastfeeding. Studies show that breastfeeding may play a role in breast cancer prevention in the mother. The longer you breastfeed, the greater the protective effect.
- Protect your skin. Research shows that most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Most of this exposure comes from the sun, but some may come from man-made sources, such as indoor tanning beds. To lower your risk of exposure to UV rays, avoid too much sun exposure and tanning beds. When you are outside, protect yourself by using sunscreen; wearing a shirt, hat, and sunglasses; and always seeking a shady spot.
Early screening and detection also have the potential to have a major impact on women’s overall health. Ask your doctor which tests are recommended and when you should start these screenings.
|Author: Jen Hartman, RD, LND|