Reducing Women's Cancer Risk

Nine steps women can take to reduce their risk of cancer

(RxWiki News) Everyday choices can play a significant role in your risk of cancer, regardless of your gender. Here are some specific steps women can take to reduce their cancer risk.

Early detection has a large impact on successful cancer treatment. That's why women shouldn't overlook these cancer symptoms and should take every possible step to reduce their risk of cancer.

Try these nine steps to reduce your cancer risk:

1. Know your family history. Having close family members with a history of cancer can increase your cancer risk. Being aware of this family history could help you take steps in prevention and monitoring to catch any cancerous cells early and therefore start treatment sooner.

2. Perform breast self-exams. Performing regular breast self-exams can make all the difference. That's why adult women are often advised to perform a breast self-exam at least once a month. For steps on how to conduct a breast self-exam, read "Detecting Breast Cancer Early."

3. Get screened. Besides performing regular breast self-exams, other regular self-exams and screenings can make all the difference in cancer detection and survival. Screening regularly for various types of cancer, such as cancer of the skin, colon or cervix, can help detect cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be effective. Ask your health care provider about the best cancer screening schedule for you.

4. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of certain cancers, such as cancer of the colon or rectum. Speak with your health care provider about what your healthy weight is. The good news? Losing even a small amount of weight has many health benefits.

5. Remain active. In addition to helping you maintain your weight, remaining physically active may help lower your risk of certain types of cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults aim for at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week (or a combination). It's usually best to spread the exercise throughout the week.

6. Stop smoking/chewing tobacco. Tobacco use has been linked with several types of cancer. Speak with your health care provider if you need help quitting. Your doctor may recommend a certain quitting strategy or even a prescription smoking-cessation medication. 

7. Reduce the time you spend in the sun. This is particularly important when the sun's rays are the strongest, so be sure to check the UV index to help plan your outdoor activities. The sun's rays are typically the strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. And while outdoors, it is important to apply sunscreen and dress to protect your body from the sun's rays. Consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves and pants.

Talk to your doctor about the medications you take. Certain prescriptions, such as antibiotics, make the skin more sensitive. 

Monitor your body for irregular moles or marks. For more information on what you need to know about checking yourself for skin cancer, be sure to read "Mole or Melanoma?"

8. Limit your alcohol intake. According to the American Cancer Society, drinking alcohol is linked to a higher risk of certain cancers, such as liver cancer. And the more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk for cancer may be. The American Cancer Society recommends limiting alcohol to no more than one drink per day for women.

9. Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Additionally, limit the amount of processed food you eat.

Speak with your health care provider about reducing your risk for cancer.