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Reducing Your Cancer Risk in 2017: Resolve to Live a Healthy Lifestyle

Publication: IN Magazine, Tyler

Research confirms that living a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of many common cancers. In 2016, for example, new research reports linked at least 13 types of cancer to obesity. At least one-third of all cancer cases are preventable, according to the World Health Organization. Making healthy choices now can impact cancer risk for years or decades to come.

The new year is a great time to turn the page on bad habits and adopt healthy ones instead. While exercise routines or balanced nutrition may have fallen by the wayside during the holiday season, the new year oers a time to get healthy habits back on track. As this season of resolutions approaches, Texas Oncology oers suggestions for a prevention-focused lifestyle:


Managing your weight and eating a balanced diet may bolster your body’s defenses against cancer and other illnesses. It’s important to reduce calories, limit the intake of sugars, saturated fats, trans fats, and alcohol, and to eat nutritious foods like fresh produce. The American Cancer Society recommends:

  • Substituting whole grains for refined or processed grains;
  • Limiting processed and red meats, foods preserved with salt, and fat;
  • Having no more than one alcoholic drink daily for women and two for men;
  • Eating two and a half cups of fruits and vegetables daily;
  • Drinking plenty of water.


Screenings can detect many cancers at the early stages, when the disease may be easier to treat. Screening guidelines continue to evolve, and may vary between organizations and physicians. The guidelines below can help clear up confusion about the most common cancer screenings.

Breast Cancer: Women over age 40 should discuss individual risk factors with their physician to determine recommended timing and appropriate screenings, including whether to begin annual mammograms.

  • For younger women, it’s important to discuss family history with your physician to determine the best approach to screenings.
  • Women with a first degree relative diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50 should begin receiving mammograms 10 years before reaching that relative’s age at diagnosis.

Skin Cancer: Everyone should check their skin for changes in freckles, moles, and other skin markings monthly. Report any changes to your physician.

Colorectal Cancer: Beginning at 50, everyone should be screened for colorectal cancer with one of these options. Earlier screening may be warranted if you have increased risk factors, such as a family history of colon cancer.

  • Annual fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical tests (FIT)
  • Every three years, a stool DNA test
  • Every five years, a exible sigmoidoscopy or a double-contrast barium enema
  • Every 10 years, a colonoscopy or every five years, a virtual colonoscopy

Cervical Cancer: Even women who have received HPV vaccines should get cervical cancer screenings:

  • Starting at age 21 and not before, women should have a Pap test every three years.
  • Women in their 30s through age 65 should have a Pap test and DNA HPV test every five years or only a Pap test every three years. The DNA HPV test, given in conjunction with a Pap test, may identify existing HPV infections that could lead to cervical cancer.
  • After age 65, discuss the need for cervical cancer screenings with your physician.

Prostate Cancer: The PSA test is a blood test that measures levels of a protein produced by the prostate. Higher PSA levels indicate a higher likelihood that a man has cancer, but other reasons may elevate PSA levels. The DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) also tests for prostate cancer.

  • Beginning at age 50, men should discuss the benefits and risks of prostate cancer screenings with a physician, to make an informed decision about testing.
  • Men at high risk (African Americans and men with a family history of prostate cancer before age 65) should discuss with a physician whether screenings are appropriate beginning at age 45.
  • Men with immediate family members diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65 should discuss screenings with a physician beginning at age 40.


The World Cancer Research Fund has estimated that up to one-third of the cancer cases in the U.S. are related to being overweight, physical inactivity, and/or poor nutrition. Whether you prefer the hiking trails at Tyler State Park, kayaking on Lake Palestine, playing outside with the kids, or an indoor option, it’s easy to stay active during Texas winters.


UV rays continue to penetrate the atmosphere and damage skin even during winter months. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, but it is easily preventable by using sunscreen and covering up the skin. Anyone may develop skin cancer, though people with fair skin or who are outdoors frequently are at higher risk. Parents should also remember that children also need protection from the sun, even in the winter.


For the 3.2 million Texans who smoke, quitting tobacco use is a huge step toward a healthier 2017. Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer in Texas, and each year kills more people than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Eighty percent of all lung cancer deaths are attributed to smoking, as are at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths. Additionally, each year, secondhand smoke causes an estimated 7,000 cases lung cancer in nonsmokers across the country. The more a person is exposed to smoke, the greater their risk of developing lung cancer.

It’s difficult to pinpoint a single cause for most cancers, but everyone can make simple changes to adopt a healthy lifestyle and reduce their risk. As we turn the calendar page to a new year, Texas Oncology urges you to make a permanent commitment to living a healthier life.

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