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How to prevent cancer: Lifestyle choices and screening guidelines

Key takeaways:

  • Cancer claims thousands of American lives each year. A large portion of these may be prevented with the right information, targeted lifestyle changes, and regular screening.
  • Adopting healthy lifestyle choices may lower your risk of developing cancer.
  • Regular screening may lead to early cancer detection, giving you a chance of beating it.
  • Imaging tests like a CT scan and a full body MRI may help you catch cancer at an early stage, thereby improving prognosis.

There are more than 100 different kinds of cancers that may affect 1 in 3 Americans during their lifetimes. While this may seem like a grim statistic, it is heartening to know that almost 45% of deaths in the U.S. due to cancer may be prevented

However, more than half of the Americans don’t understand the risk factors associated with cancer. Experts believe that this information is vital in protecting yourself against cancer.

As for the steps for how to prevent cancer, cancer isn’t fully preventable. However, by limiting risk factors and making some simple lifestyle changes, you may reduce your risk. Regular screening for cancer using advanced imaging tests like the Ezra Scan may help with early detection. If cancer is detected early, you may be able to get ahead of the disease. Let’s break this down.

Cancer prevention tactics: Healthy lifestyle choices.

Happy family eating together

Advances in cancer research have played a big role in enhancing our understanding of this difficult disease. 

Cancer is characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells. While some cancers remain localized, some may turn malignant. Such cells can infiltrate and destroy normal tissue. In many cases, they can also travel to other parts of the body to affect distant tissues. 

The primary cause of cancer is mutation in the cell DNA that controls cell growth. These mutations are either inherited (small number of cancer cases) or acquired.

Mutations may be caused by a complex interplay of substances, processes, and conditions. For example, carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) in the body, obesity, certain viruses, chronic inflammation, and a sedentary lifestyle are associated risk factors.

Eat healthy.

This is the simplest yet the most powerful thing you can do to protect your body from  cancer and many other health issues, like heart disease and certain insulin issues. 

There is evidence to show that a Mediterranean diet, which is rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, may reduce your risk of certain cancers like colorectal cancer. Plant-based oils like (virgin) olive oil, along with the generous servings of fruits and vegetables in your diet may also provide a good dose of antioxidants. These are believed to help reduce cell damage due to oxidative stress.

You can also include certain natural supplements in your diet. Some studies have shown that supplements like garlic, flax seeds, ginger, turmeric, green tea, and  minerals like selenium and vitamins D and E support good health and may also have some anti-cancer properties. However, consult your healthcare practitioner before beginning supplements or a new diet. And remember, the FDA doesn’t heavily regulate supplements.

Maintain a healthy weight.

How to prevent cancer: couple kissing while exercising

Eating a healthy diet should be complemented with moderate physical activity, which can help you lose those extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight. 

Increased body-mass index (BMI) is one of the risk factors for many types of cancers — breast, colon, kidney, pancreas, esophagus, ovaries, prostate, liver, gallbladder, and others. 

It is not clear why obesity is associated with an increased cancer risk.

One proposed mechanism is that fat cells release certain chemicals that may encourage the growth and proliferation of cancer cells. 

If you’re overweight, you may want to speak with a healthcare professional about healthy weight management and how to keep parameters like blood sugar, blood pressure and blood lipids in check. 

Avoid tobacco.

According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco is responsible for 20% of all cancers and almost 30% of all cancer deaths in the U.S. An estimated eighty percent of lung cancer deaths, the leading cause of death by cancer in men and women, are due to smoking.

Tobacco in all forms poses a grave risk to your health. Even secondhand smoke increases your risk of cancer. Quitting smoking can substantially cut down your risk of tobacco-related diseases within a couple of years.  

Avoid alcohol.

Alcohol consumption increases the risk of many types of cancers like that of the mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx, liver, colon, and rectum. According to the National Cancer Institute, even light drinkers (those who consume up to 1 drink per day) have a slightly high risk of developing certain types of cancer that increases over time.

Protect yourself from infections.

Certain viral infections like hepatitis viruses, HIV, and the human papillomavirus (HPV) increase your risk of cancer. While you can get vaccine shots for the hepatitis virus, you can protect yourself from HIV and HPV by practicing safer sex.

Protect your skin from too much sun.

Woman putting on sunscreen

Ultraviolet rays in the sun’s radiation are known to cause mutations in the DNA, which may eventually cause cancers, especially of the skin (melanoma). Skin cancer is very common in the U.S. yet is often preventable if you protect yourself from too much sun exposure.

Avoid the peak hours of sunlight (10 am-4 pm) if you can. If you must go out in the sun, wear body-covering clothing and apply, and reapply every two hours, a broad-spectrum sunscreen for sun protection. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher for regular use. For extended time outside, they recommend you use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Follow product instructions to make sure your sunscreen is effective.

Tanning beds fare even worse and the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer labels indoor tanning beds as carcinogenic. An analysis of different studies found that sunbed use increased the risk of melanoma by 20%.

If you follow these simple tips, you give yourself a headstart on preventing cancer.   

Get screened regularly.

According to the American Cancer Society, early detection of cancer through screening reduces the risk of death. Screenings should be part of routine healthcare. According to the society’s recent publication Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts & Figures 2021-2022, cancers of the breast, cervix, colon and rectum, prostate and lungs correlates with better treatment outcomes when people are more up to date with routine cancer screenings as per clinical guidelines.

Early detection is our greatest defense against cancer and may help inform a treatment plan and result in a better prognosis. Regular screening tests become all the more important if you have either the risk factors or a family history of cancer.

Screening options through Ezra.

The Ezra Scan is an MRI-based scan service for early cancer detection. It is a full-body scan that screens for signs of cancer in up to 13 organs. It includes an optional 45-minute follow-up consultation with a Medical Provider to walk through your scan findings. Throughout your entire Ezra experience, you’ll be guided by a personal Care Advisor who will answer all your questions.  

Leading doctors and scientists all over the world are helping build Ezra. Our radiologists, scientific advisors and in-house medical team regularly review and update our scanning protocols, to ensure high clinical quality. As part of the Ezra Scan, your MRI images are reviewed by board certified and experienced radiologists.  Your radiology report is then reviewed by an Ezra Medical Provider, with an accompanying Ezra Report with suggested next steps.

The Ezra Full Body costs $1,950 or $180 a month and is designed for screening potential cancers in the head, neck, abdomen, and pelvis. The Ezra Full Body Plus, an advanced service, costs $2,350 or $220 a month and scans up to 14 organs. It also includes a 5-minute low-dose chest CT (LDCT) scan for those who medically qualify, Coronary Calcium Scoring, and a Prostate Scan with IV Contrast for prostate cancer screening.

The Ezra Mammogram is a 20-minute 3D mammogram that uses state-of-the-art equipment to screen for breast cancer. Results are typically released within 48 hours of the scan.

Ezra Scans are sensitive, accurate, and fast and may help with early detection of cancers or other health issues.

How to prevent cancer: Early detection is the best defense.

How to prevent cancer: happy couple sitting on a couch and holding hands

While cancer will still affect millions, preventing cancer is possible through targeted lifestyle changes and early detection. Lifestyle changes can improve your general health as well.

Early detection through routine screenings can give you better information to live a healthy life. With a screening test like an Ezra Scan, you can stay a step ahead on how to prevent cancer. Calculate your estimated risk with our 5-minute quiz, or book your scan.