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The 10 commandments of cancer prevention, from Harvard Men's Health Watch (4/6)

April 6, 2009

According to the April 2009 issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch, up to 75% of cancer deaths in the United States can be prevented. The publication offers the following 10 cancer prevention tips.

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.