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Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

Understanding your risk of developing different cancers is important. Know your family's health history. Having close relatives with cancer may put you at greater risk.

However, cancer goes beyond genetics. The American Cancer Society estimates that one-third of cancers are caused by poor diet and another one-third are caused by tobacco use.

Here are some steps to reduce your risk of cancer:

    Vegetables are rich in fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, anticarcinogens, and minerals. Broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cantaloupe, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, squash, grapefruit, strawberries, peaches, oranges, and apples are all good sources. Soy products like tofu and soy milk appear to affect hormone action and metabolism, helping to reduce and individual's risk of breast, ovarian and prostate cancers.

    Tobacco use is the biggest cancer risk of all. Studies show that quitting reduces your risk even after decades of use.

    Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. To reduce your risk, don't use indoor sunlamps, tanning parlors or pills. Wear sunscreen of at least SPF 15. Try to limit activities outside between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. or wear clothes that cover your skin.

    This reduces your risk of cancers associated with obesity. Exercising regularly helps maintain or reduce your weight. Eating low fat foods also helps to maintain and reduce weight. Eat lean meat, fish, and skinned chicken. Reduce and substitute saturated oils with monounsaturated oils like olive oil. Try to adjust fat intake to 20% or less of calories.

    Some foods react to chemicals produced while cooking and create carcinogens. Try to cut back on foods that are salt-cured, smoked, or nitrated-cured. Foods that are fried, broiled or pickled should also be eaten in moderation.

    Green and black teas also contain anticancer antioxidants.

    This year, 564,000 Americans are expected to die from cancer, making it the second leading cause of death (heart disease is first).

    The American Cancer Society has guidelines for early detection of cancer. Those who are at higher risk for certain cancers may need to have tests more frequently and earlier in life.

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