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The 10 commandments of cancer prevention, from Harvard Men’s Health Watch

About one of every three Americans will face some form of cancer during his or her lifetime. You can help beat these grim statistics by taking steps to protect yourself right now. In fact, up to 75% of cancer deaths in the United States can be prevented, reports the April 2009 issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch. Here are 10 ways to get started.

  1. Avoid tobacco in all its forms, including exposure to secondhand smoke.
  2. Eat right. Reduce your consumption of saturated fat and red meat. Limit your intake of charbroiled foods, and avoid deep-fried foods. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And don’t forget to eat fish two to three times a week.
  3. Exercise regularly. Physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of colon, prostate, breast, and reproductive cancers.
  4. Stay lean. Obesity increases the risk of many forms of cancer. Calories count—if you need to slim down, take in fewer calories and burn more with exercise.
  5. Limit alcohol consumption. Excess alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, larynx, esophagus, liver, and colon; it also increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol, the limit should be one to two drinks a day for men, no more than one a day for women.
  6. Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation. Wear sunscreen to protect yourself from ultraviolet radiation. Get medical imaging studies only when you need them. Check your home for radon.
  7. Avoid exposure to industrial and environmental toxins such as asbestos, benzene, aromatic amines, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
  8. Avoid infections that contribute to cancer, including hepatitis, HIV, and the human papillomavirus (HPV).
  9. Consider taking low-dose aspirin. Men who take aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may have a lower risk of colon and prostate cancers.
  10. Get enough vitamin D. Taking 800 to 1,000 international units (IU) daily may help reduce the risk of prostate and colon cancers.
Read Full-length Article: "The 10 commandments of cancer prevention"

Also in this issue of the Harvard Men's Health Watch

  • Deep-vein thrombosis: Blood clots in your veins
  • The 10 commandments of cancer prevention
  • Medical memo: Hearty humor
  • On call: Proscar and osteoporosis

More Harvard Health News »

About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.