Know your personal risk factors so you can manage them. There are measures everyone can take to decrease their chances of developing cancer, and it all starts with an awareness of the things in our lives that make us more vulnerable.
Some of these factors can be changed through lifestyle habits and others can be monitored and addressed as soon as they arise.
- Family History
Your risk of developing cancer can be inherited. Genetics play a major role in around five to 10 percent of all cancers. According to the National Cancer Institute, there are over 50 identified hereditary cancer syndromes, which are disorders that might increase your risk of developing cancer.
Genetic testing is one way to know if you have inherited a gene that puts you at greater risk.
While cancer can develop at any age, the risk of developing it can increase as you get older – Did you know that:
- 62 is the median age to be diagnosed with breast cancer
- 66 is the median age to be diagnosed with prostate cancer
- 67 is the median age to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer
- 71 is the median age to be diagnosed with lung cancer
Data from the National Cancer Institute
- Alcohol Consumption
For men, the risk of developing cancer increases if you have more than two drinks in one day. For women, it is increased by having more than one drink in a day.
- Chronic Disease
Some chronic diseases, including ulcerative colitis (ulcers found in the large intestine or colon) or Crohn's Disease can increase your chances of developing cancer.
What you eat plays a large role in your risk of developing cancer. Talk with your healthcare provider about ways you can improve your diet to help reduce your risk.
People who are medically considered obese have an increased risk of developing several types of cancer. Including, breast, colon, rectal, uterine, esophageal, kidney, pancreatic and gallbladder.
- Sun Exposure
People of all skin tones are at risk of developing skin cancer. However, those with lighter skin tones are at an increased risk. It is important to wear sunscreen and limit time spent in the sun.
- Tobacco Use
Tobacco is the leading cause of cancer and death from cancer. People who use tobacco products or who are regularly around second-hand tobacco smoke, have an increased risk of developing cancer.
By being aware of these common cancer risk factors, individuals can take proactive steps to reduce their risk and lead a healthier lifestyle. It is important to remember that while these risk factors increase the likelihood of developing cancer, they do not guarantee it. Participating in your recommended, age-appropriate cancer screenings, early detection, and adopting healthy habits can significantly lower the risk of cancer and also improve overall well-being.