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Experts Highlight Strategies for Cancer Control and Prevention

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Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease. Image for illustration purposes
Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease. Image for illustration purposes
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By Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey 

Newswise — New Brunswick, N.J. April 1, 2024– Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Many cancers can be prevented, and others can be detected early in their development, treated and cured. Carolyn J. Heckman, PhD and Elisa V. Bandera, MD, PhD, co leaders of the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and RWJBarnabas Health, the state’s leading cancer program and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, highlight ways that everyone can take control of their health and reduce cancer risk.

Eat healthy, get moving and eliminate alcohol consumption. Eating a well-balanced diet, exercising on a regular basis and maintaining a healthy body weight have many health benefits. All three factors can reduce cancer risk and have been linked to better overall health and better cancer outcomes. American Cancer Society Guideline for Diet and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention suggests adopting a lifestyle pattern that includes eating a diet of whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and beans; minimizing red and processed meat, fast foods and other processed foods high in fat, and sugars; and prioritizing physical activity to maintain a healthy body weight.  Additionally, alcohol consumption is not recommended, as it is a carcinogen and has been found to increase risk for many cancers.

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Stop smoking. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), tobacco can increase the risk for many kinds of cancer including lung, mouth, throat, cervical, blood, bladder, esophagus, stomach, pancreatic and kidney cancers. In fact, according to the NCI, cigarette smoking causes about 25 percent of all cancer diagnoses and 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States.  Avoiding tobacco products and quitting smoking are major steps that can be taken to lower the risk for developing cancer. Please contact the Tobacco Dependence Program if you or a loved one is interested in quitting.

Make cancer screening part of your lifestyle.  Preventative screening tests can lead to early detection of cancers, some of which, if discovered early, can be successfully treated. Resources available through Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and ScreenNJ describe risk factors and other information that can be useful in speaking to a health care provider about a screening schedule. Learn more about what cancers you can be screened for and when.

Protect your skin from the ultraviolet (UV) rays. Exposure to UV rays can increase the risk of developing sun-related skin cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests covering up with long sleeves, pants and a wide-brimmed hat along with applying sunscreen (SPF of at least 30) 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapplying every two hours. Additionally, avoid artificial sources of UV exposure like tanning beds and sunlamps. 

To highlight the importance of cancer prevention and control, National Cancer Control Month is recognized in April.Cancer control researchers at Rutgers Cancer Institute work to identify factors that may contribute to cancer development and outcomes which inform interventions to address and ultimately control avoidable cancer risk factors. Learn more: https://cinj.org/research/cancer-prevention-and-control-research-program

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