We all view cancer as an awful disease, a disease that is totally out of our control. We may not be doctors, conducting research to find a cure, but we are Relayers, raising money, and doing our part to help.
But we can do more than that. As individuals, we can follow a few simple guidelines to keep ourselves healthy, and at the lowest risk for getting cancer. Some of these tips may seem more obvious than others, but I feel that they are all beneficial. It is important for all of us to remind ourselves of the small steps we can take each day to keep ourselves healthy.
1. Sun Protection!
Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and there is so much we can do to keep our body safe from the sun. We all love a good beach day, but your long-term health is much more important than getting as tan. USE SUNSCREEN! Remember to reapply frequently, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest. However, ultraviolet radiation doesn’t just come from the sun. It comes from tanning beds as well, so it is your best option to avoid using them. Studies have indicated that too much sun exposure is strongly linked to basal and squamous cell skin cancer and melanoma. Make sure to self-examine your skin regularly, and consult a doctor if you find something concerning. If you have a mole, keep the ABCDE rule in mind: A is for asymmetry, B is for border, C is for color, D is for diameter, and E is for evolving.
2. Maintain a healthy diet, and exercise often!
Staying active and eating healthy can make a big difference in lowering your risk for cancer, in addition to many other diseases. Being overweight can increase cancer risk because excess weight leads to increased estrogen and insulin production, which are hormones that can cause cancer growth. As far as a diet, you should strive to eat at least 2.5 cups of vegetables and fruits each day, choose whole grains rather than refined grain products, and avoid eating too much red meat and processed meat.
3. Visit your doctor on a regular basis for screenings!
Many people may be nervous to visit the doctor to get a test done. But, it’s better to be safe than sorry! If you find a lump or mole that you are concerned about, it’s your best bet to just check in with the doctor. Additionally, it is a good idea for men and women to get tested for colon cancer starting at age 50. Women are encouraged to get yearly mammograms starting at the age of 45. Although it may be nerve-wracking to get these tests done, they are very common, and if any sign of cancer is found, it could save your life. Early detection is key. Make sure to schedule tests for yourself, but also encourage loved ones to do the same.
These are just three small ways that you can keep your body healthy, and at low risk for getting cancer. Also, be sure to check out these the American Cancer Society’s website with additional ways to stay healthy: https://www.cancer.org/healthy.html. Thanks for reading!
Blog by Olivia Spar of the Southeast Region Campus Leadership Team.