HEALTHBEAT – 5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Prevent Cancer

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five ways to prevent cancerTHUNDER BAY – HEALTHBEAT – Despite considerable progress since the war on cancer was launched in the early 1970s, 1 in 2 North Americans will be affected by cancer at some point in their lifetime. It is impossible to imagine living a life that avoids dealing with cancer.

Some suggest that we are losing the war – but that’s not true. With the power of early detection, personalized therapies, and more targeted treatments, we are improving 5-year survival rates and changing the face of cancer from an acute illness to a chronic disease.

“Even though we have significant medical advancements for cancer diagnosis and treatment, people shouldn’t rely on medical intervention as a cure. The best way to deal with cancer is to adopt lifestyle changes to avoid getting cancer altogether,” says Dr. Dimitrios Vergidis, Chief of Oncology at Regional Cancer Care Northwest (RCC-NW). “For example, all cancers caused by cigarette smoking and heavy use of alcohol could be prevented completely.”

Joanne Lacourciere, Director, Regional Cancer Program, is also a big advocate of lifestyle changes. “Scientific evidence suggests that about one-third of cancer deaths will be related to obesity, inactivity, and poor nutrition. People can take action now to prevent cancer through better food choices and physical activity.”

#1 Stop smoking or using tobacco products.
Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death worldwide. People who quit, regardless of age, live longer than people who continue to smoke. Quitting smoking substantially decreases the risk of lung, laryngeal, esophageal, oral, pancreatic, bladder, and cervical cancers.

#2 Achieve and maintain a healthy weight throughout life.
For those who are currently overweight, losing even a small amount of weight has health benefits and is a good place to start.

#3 Adopt an active lifestyle.
Choose something you enjoy and do it regularly. Adults should aim to take 10,000 steps every day and children should try to be active for at least 1 hour every day.

#4 Eat a healthy diet that emphasizes plant foods and limit alcohol consumption.
Fill your plate with reasonable portions. Consume a mostly plant-based diet that limits red and processed meats, is heavy on whole grains, and includes a variety of vegetables and fruits – at least 2.5 cups every day and the more colourful the better. Limit alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

#5 Get screened to find cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage.

Regular screening examinations by a healthcare professional can result in the detection and removal of precancerous growths, as well as the diagnosis of cancers at an early stage, when they are most treatable.

Regional Cancer Care Northwest is working to reduce the burden of cancer and support folks in their decisions to make healthier choices. On Wednesday, April 18, please join Regional Cancer Program leaders at a Northern Cancer Question & Answer focused on how we are winning the war on cancer and to learn more about the progress of our Exceptional Cancer Care Plan 2011-2015.

Everyone is welcome at this free public discussion (with free parking) at 7 pm in the Auditorium (3rd floor) at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. Call 684-7237 for more information.

Janine Chiasson

In the photograph: Regional Cancer Program Director Joanne Lacourciere leads the pack as Regional Cancer Care staff gets moving over lunch. Build exercise into your day so you can reach 10,000 steps!