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Ways for Women to Reduce Risk of Cancer

Scott Monge

More than a quarter of a million American women die each year from cancer. But by adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking screening tests, women can greatly reduce their risk of cancer.

Lung cancer is responsible for more female deaths in the U.S. than any other form of cancer. Smoking causes most cases, but secondhand smoke is just as deadly and can be even worse for you. Secondhand smoke increases nonsmokers’ lung cancer risk by 20 percent to 30 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The concentrations of toxic and cancer-causing chemicals are higher in secondhand smoke than in smoke inhaled by smokers. The best way to avoid this type of cancer is to quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.

Breast, colorectal, endometrial, esophageal, kidney and pancreatic cancers are associated with being overweight. With obesity rates on the rise in America, cancer is a huge concern. It’s important for women to adopt a lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and regular exercise to lower the risk for these cancers.

According to the CDC, the most common form of cancer in the U.S. is skin cancer. Serious sunburns and UV exposure are the leading causes of skin cancer. The CDC recommends shielding your skin with sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher when outdoors, seeking shade, wearing hats and sunglasses and avoiding the midday hours in the sun to reduce the risk of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. Tanning beds are also a leading cause. Young people who begin tanning early have a 60 percent to 80 percent higher risk of melanoma.

The second-most common cause of cancer deaths in American women is breast cancer. The best way to reduce your risk is to find it early. Mammograms are the best way to do that. They can find polyps before they turn cancerous. The CDC recommends that women in their 40s talk to a doctor about when to start getting mammograms and for women older than 50 to get a mammogram every two years.

Other screening tests include tests for colorectal cancer for women aged 50 and older, pap tests and human papillomavirus tests to reduce risk for colon and gynecological cancers.

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