According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 39.5% of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes. This statistic indicates that over 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and over half a million Americans will die from cancer just this year. Despite these dismal projections, research has shown that up to half of cancer cases and deaths are preventable if detected early.
At Ascend Medical, we believe in providing effective strategies to mitigate any risks to our patients’ health. Read on to learn about early detection tips and how you can reduce your risk of cancer.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Certain viruses—most notably, sexually transmitted viruses such as HPV, HIV, and hepatitis—have been linked to cancer. Roughly one-third of liver cancers have been linked to the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Similarly, many strains of the human papillomavirus, known as HPV, have been found to cause certain types of cancer, such as cervical and other genital cancers like cancer of the anus, penis, throat, vulva and vagina. In addition, individuals who have HIV or AIDS may have a higher risk of developing cancer of the anus, liver, and lung.
“Vaccines are available both for hepatitis B and HPV,” stated Dr. Michael Smith, Chief Medical Officer at Ascend Medical. “However, because these viruses are sexually transmitted, one of the best ways to reduce your risk of contracting them is to practice safe sex.”
Limiting your number of sexual partners and using a condom when you have sex can both greatly reduce your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection and, by default, developing cancer from these viruses.
Avoid Tobacco Use and Alcohol Abuse
Many types of cancer (including lung, colorectal, breast, throat, cervical, bladder, mouth, and esophageal) have been linked to the use of tobacco products. In fact, the CDC asserts that about 90% of all lung cancers are related to smoking tobacco—even non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at risk of developing lung cancer and other respiratory conditions. Therefore, avoiding tobacco products—or deciding to stop using them—is an important part of cancer prevention.
In addition, limiting alcohol consumption can decrease your risk of developing cancer as alcohol has been linked to liver, colorectal, and breast cancers. If you drink alcohol, limit consumption to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
“Maintaining a healthy weight and a diet rich in healthy foods rich in antioxidants is one of the most important ways to help prevent cancer shared Dr. Michael Smith, Chief Medical Officer at Ascend Medical.
At Ascend Medical, we recommend the following three tips to ensure a healthy diet:
- Fill your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Basing your diet on foods from plant sources, such as whole grains and beans can improve health.
- Eat lighter and leaner by choosing fewer high-calorie foods. Refined sugars and fat from highly processed foods can lead to weight gain, which has been linked to breast and colorectal cancer.
- Limit processed meats. A report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, concluded that eating large amounts of processed meat increases the risk of certain types of cancer.
In addition to helping you control your weight, physical activity can lower the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer. Studies have shown that adults who participate in any amount of physical activity can:
- Lower the levels of sex hormones, such as estrogen, and growth factors that have been associated with the development and progression of breast and colon cancer
- Prevent high blood levels of insulin, which has been linked to breast and colon cancer
- Alter the metabolism of bile acids, decreasing exposure of the gastrointestinal tract to these suspected carcinogens that may increase the risk of colon cancer
- Help prevent obesity, which is a risk factor for many cancers
As a general goal, work up to 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week to reduce the risk of cancer and improve overall well-being. 30 minutes of exercise could be: a walk around the neighborhood, yoga, or a HIIT workout. There are plenty of resources online to help inspire you to move!
Protect Your Skin from Overexposure to the Sun
According to the American Cancer Society, over 100,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma (skin cancer) annually, making it one of the most common cancers in America. Skin cancer is also one of the most preventable types of cancer. To avoid skin cancer, try these tips:
- Avoid direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest. If you must be in direct sunlight during this time, wear sunscreen and other skin protection products at all times.
- When outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible or create your own shade with sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Cover exposed skin with tightly woven, loose fitting clothing.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, even on cloudy days. Remember to reapply every two hours, or more often if you are swimming or sweating heavily.
- Avoid artificial sunlight, such as tanning beds and sunlamps, as these are just as damaging as natural sunlight.
Avoid Exposure to Radiation or Harmful Toxins
There are many studies linking exposure to industrial and environmental toxins such as asbestos fibers, benzene, aromatic amines, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to cancer. Therefore, while it is important to avoid these harmful toxins, they are often carefully monitored to help you avoid exposure.
However, many people do not know about other environmental toxins, such as radiation, that might be more common than you think. For example, medical imaging technology, like x-rays, can give your body a minimal dose of radiation. To limit your risk of developing cancer avoid medical imaging studies unless they are absolutely necessary.
Get Enough Sleep
While evidence linking sleep to cancer is not strong, poor and insufficient sleep has been proven to contribute to weight gain, which is a cancer risk factor. In addition, disruptions in the body’s “biological clock,” may raise the odds of cancers of the breast, colon, ovaries and prostate. Therefore, make sure you are getting the recommended amount of sleep—between seven and nine hours—each night.
Know the Warning Signs
While approximately one out of every three Americans will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime, diagnosis and treatment have greatly improved in recent years. Protecting yourself early by taking the appropriate precautions and looking for early warning signs can help mitigate your risk of developing cancer. To recognize symptoms of the disease early, the American Cancer Society recommends using C.A.U.T.I.O.N:
C: Change in bowel or bladder habits
A: A sore that does not heal
U: Unusual bleeding or discharge
T: Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere
I: Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
O: Obvious change in a wart or mole
N: Nagging cough or hoarseness
Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health estimate that up to 75% of American cancer deaths can be prevented and the team here at Ascend Medical is here to make sure you have the tools you need to recognize the early signs of cancer and mitigate its effects.
As a primary care system that revolves around you, we’re proud to offer membership-based healthcare services, mobile diagnostics, and 24/7, on-demand virtual visits to address all of your health concerns – exactly when and where it’s convenient for you. Book your same day appointment today!
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Not only is it a month to support breast cancer research and the people affected, but it is also a time where we encourage others to get checked. According to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is detected early, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99%. Ascend Medical’s […]
The Flu Vaccine and Its Availability
The flu is very common and can be quite serious — even deadly. Depending on several factors, including the predominant flu strains circulating in a given year, flu infects between 9 million and 45 million Americans a year. Between 140,000 and 810,000 are hospitalized and between 12,000 to 61,000 die every year. It’s not […]
Children's Health Month
When you have children, your priorities change and your focus becomes their health and happiness. This means being on top of finding care for them when they have a sore throat, an itchy eye, or just aren’t feeling themselves. October is Children’s Health Month, and although we focus on pediatric care every day, we also […]
PEDIATRIC CARE OPTIONS AT ASCEND MEDICAL
Pediatrics: At Home Childcare, 24/7 We Champion the Well-being of Your Child You can read all of the parenting books and websites in the world, but nothing can prepare you for those nights with a sick child. You’re worried about the sound of their cough, and as you’re holding them there, upright in the misty […]
Reducing Risk Factors for Heart Failure
Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States and a major cause of disability. One of the most common complications of heart disease is heart failure. Heart failure occurs when a weakened heart struggles to pump oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the body’s cells. As a result the cells are improperly […]
How to Tell People You Have COVID-19
At Ascend Medical, we know that open and honest communication is currently one of the most invaluable tools we have to slow the spread of COVID-19. Unawareness can lead to accelerated community spread between one individual to many others if infected individuals do not know they were exposed and fail to quarantine as soon as […]
COVID-19 Testing for the Holidays
The COVID-19 pandemic has been frustrating for many people, isolating them from both loved ones and activities they enjoy. While the upcoming holiday season offers many families and friends the opportunity to reconnect, the team at Ascend Medical would like to remind you that holiday plans should be modified where possible to reduce the spread […]
Why You Should Get the Flu Shot
Ascend Medical is dedicated to preventing flu especially because the flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctors’ visits each year. In fact, during the 2019-2020 flu season, the vaccine prevented an estimated 7/5 million influenza illnesses, 3.7 million influenza-associated medical visits, 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 6,300 influenza-associated deaths. Research by the CDC also […]
Drinking Alcohol and Diabetes - Do They Mix?
Diabetes is a common, life-long condition that occurs when the body cannot make proper use of glucose, causing it to build up in the blood. Thankfully, diabetes is easily manageable through weight loss, healthy eating, exercise and medications when needed. Because diabetes makes it difficult for your body to regulate blood sugar levels, you should […]
What to Know About Kids’ Sports Physicals
As a parent, you understand the importance of ensuring the health and well-being of your little one both on and off the field. At Ascend Medical, we want to provide resources that can help you understand the ins and outs of sports physicals. From who needs one to why get one, we’re here to help […]
Understanding the Dangers of Vaping
Over the last five years, e-cigarette use has become common, especially among young people. In fact, more high school students use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. But, many people are unaware of the true impact these devices can have on users’ health. Despite growing evidence that smoking e-cigarettes, or vaping, may be even more dangerous than […]
How to Prevent COVID-19 Weight Gain
If you’re concerned about your weight during the pandemic, you are not alone. Living during the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the daily routines of millions worldwide and presented a new set of challenges for people’s mental and physical wellbeing. Staying indoors means most people are less active and many are eating more ultra-processed foods. This, […]