Provided by Dr. Navneet Sharda of Las Vegas Cancer Care Center

Dr. Navneet Sharda Oncologist


Two-thirds of cancer deaths are attributed to smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet choices. Make an effort to reduce your risk now. With help from our Medical Advisory Board and other experts, we compiled a list of 10 ways to help you start. 


1. Quit smoking

     One out of every two deaths before age 65 in our society is due to smoking,” said James Mulshine, M.D., professor of internal medicine and associate provost for research at Rush University Medical Center. You can add up to 10 years to your life by quitting.  This year, strive to break the addiction, and create smoke-free environments in your home and community.


2. Get screened

     Be sure to continue annual screening tests like the Pap test and mammogram if you are a woman, and a DRE (digital rectal exam) and PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) if you are a man. Both the Pap test and PSA can detect cellular changes before they become cancerous, and the mammogram can detect breast cancer in its earliest stages. And 50 is the magic age for screening for colon cancer. Remember, some cancers are over 90 percent curable when found early, so don’t forget to schedule your 2009 screening!


3. Lose excess weight

     Being overweight is one of the main risk factors for uterine, colon, breast, esophageal and kidney cancers. Both ovarian and pancreatic cancers have also been linked to excess weight. “When you’re overweight by any amount, you’re absolutely increasing your cancer risk,” said Curtis Miyamoto, M.D., professor and chair of radiation oncology at Temple University Hospital. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight will likely reduce your cancer risk.


4. Be active

     When cancer prevention is concerned, physical activity is important to maintaining a normal, healthy body weight, said Richard C. Wender, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University. Shape up this year — make the effort to become physically active for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.


5. Eat more green   

  According to a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual international conference, Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, eating four or more salads a week may further reduce a former smoker’s risk for lung cancer. Vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which help repair cells damaged by smoking. But we all know how important eating more green is to overall good health — just do it!


6. Limit alcohol consumption 

     Drinking alcohol in excess has been known to contribute to liver and colon cancer, among others. Generally accepted limits are one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.


7. Add some color to your diet 

     A recent study found that anthocyanins — the compounds that give fruits and veggies intense red, purple, or blue hues — may slow or prevent the growth of colon cancer. “Anthocyanins are not absorbed efficiently into the bloodstream,” said study author Monica Giusti, Ph.D., assistant professor of food science at Ohio State University, “so they remain in the gastrointestinal tract, where they interact with the tissues.”  Try working more colorful fruits and vegetables into your diet this year.


8. Cut back on red meats

Any meat is a great source of protein, but white meats like fish and seafood are the healthiest choice, said Andrew Weil, M.D., founder and director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine. Red meats like beef, pork and lamb have a high fat content, which promotes inflammation — a contributing factor in the development of many chronic diseases, including cancer.


9. Wear sunscreen

     Skin cancer is the most common and most preventable of cancers. “The most important thing you can do is limit sun exposure and protect your head and neck, where most skin cancers appear, with a sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB radiation,” said Darrell Rigel, M.D., professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine.


10. Breastfeed

     Attention all mothers-to-be! The longer you breastfeed your baby the greater your breast cancer risk is reduced, according to a study published in the July 20, 2002, issue of The Lancet.