Each year, National Cancer Prevention Month is observed in February. This is fitting when you consider that the observance occurs right around the same time that many people decide to bail on their well-intentioned – but ultimately impractical – New Year’s resolutions, many of which are health-related.
Cancer is now the leading cause of deaths worldwide. As a result, many people incorrectly believe that they are powerless against this potentially devastating condition. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, studies show that currently one out of every three cancer cases could possibly have been prevented through simple lifestyle changes – the very same positive habits that are often the subject of New Year’s resolutions. These include eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy body weight. In addition to helping prevent cancer, these measures can also reduce the risk of several serious and chronic health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.
If you’re feeling inspired to celebrate National Cancer Prevention Month, here are a few more ways to get started:
- Learn about cancer risk factors. Your first step in protecting your health is to gain awareness. Seek information about common types of cancer; if you know the risk factors, you will be able to make better-informed choices when it comes to your health.
- Talk with your physician. Be proactive about your health and schedule a wellness exam and appropriate cancer screening. Ask your physician about the risk factors that you’ve researched, how they apply to your unique situation and what changes you can make to help prevent cancer.
- Introduce one new healthy habit at a time. If you try to do too much at once, you may quickly become overwhelmed and simply give up. Instead, start small by making one positive change to your daily routine; e.g., drink water instead of soda with your meals, take a 30-minute walk at lunchtime, go to bed one hour earlier every night, etc. Then, once you’ve mastered it, add another one.
- Get your friends on board. Tell at least one person what you’re up to so that he or she may be inspired to participate as well. By sharing the “gift” of proactive healthcare, you can benefit your friends and also feel good about yourself.
You might also consider donating to a cancer-related cause that is important to you or volunteering at a cancer awareness fundraiser. However, you should perform these activities in addition to – not instead of – taking steps to improve your own risk profile. With your personal health at the forefront, you’ll be more likely to be in a position to help others down the road.
National Cancer Prevention Month serves as an important reminder that it is never too early – or too late – to take proactive steps to prevent cancer and improve your health. If you’d like to learn more about cancer prevention, you can arrange to speak with an oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online. No referrals are required.