Rising food prices and a struggling economy can make people feel they have little control over their own well-being. These feelings can be heightened during the holidays. Recent studies show, however, that people have much more control than they believe over a crucial health issue - cancer.
The good news: You probably won't get cancer. That is, if you have a healthy lifestyle. The fact is, as many as 70 percent of known causes of cancers are avoidable and related to lifestyle. With that in mind, the American Cancer Society has released a list of 12 practical tips to help fight cancer during the holidays and in 2011.
1. Make an appointment for your yearly physical and talk to your doctor about cancer screening tests: breast, cervical, prostate, colon and others. Screening increases the chances of detecting certain cancers early, when they are most likely to be curable.
2. Protect yourself from the sun's UV rays. Some people think about sun protection only when they spend a day at the lake, beach or pool. But sun exposure adds up day after day, and it happens every time you are in the sun. "Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!" is a catch phrase that can help you remember the four key methods you can use to protect yourself from UV radiation:
Slip on a shirt.
Slop on sunscreen.
Slap on a hat.
Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and sensitive skin around them.
3. Pay close attention to your body and changes that may occur. Talk to your doctor about these changes.
4. Make a plan to quit smoking. Set a date. Ask for help from the American Cancer Society at (800) ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org. Quitline Iowa at (800) QUIT-NOW can also help. Studies have shown that tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S. One-third of all cancer deaths could be prevented if people avoid tobacco produces.
5. Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day. The first step to cooking healthy is to stock your kitchen with a variety of foods that you can throw together for healthy meals in a hurry.
6. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes per day on five or more days of the week. Physical activities can range from walking at lunchtime, taking the stairs rather than the elevator or yard work to more strenuous exercise like running, swimming or playing tennis.
7. Limit alcohol consumption. People who drink alcohol should limit their intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink a day for women.
8. Give yourself or a loved one the American Cancer Society's Healthy Eating Cookbook featuring healthy recipes and helpful healthy cooking tips. Enjoy delicious and healthful meals in this popular cookbook, where you will discover more than 200 pages of recipes that will turn healthy eating into a celebration of good food.
9. Call (800) ACS-2345, or visit www.cancer.org for information or services if you or someone you know has cancer. The American Cancer Society's phone lines are open every minute of the day to provide answers and resources. Last year more than 113,000 people in Iowa visited the American Cancer Society website (cancer.org) to learn more about cancer and how to prevent it.
10. Encourage the women in your life to visit our Choose You website at www.chooseyou.org. Too many women put others health (children, spouses, parents, siblings, etc.) first and fall behind on their own. This website helps women focus on their own health.
11. Share these tips for a cancer-free holiday season and 2011. E-mail friends, post on Facebook or other social network sites, or just share over a hot mug of cider with someone special.
12. If you aren't already, get involved with American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Webster County and help fight cancer. Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. This year's Relay will be held on June 24 at Dodger Stadium beginning at 6 p.m. To learn more about how you can get involved, donate or register a team for a Relay for Life log onto www.relayforlife.org/webstercountyia.
Diet, exercise, smoking, and other lifestyle choices you make all impact your overall health and your risk for cancer. To help you stay well, the American Cancer Society offers the Healthy Living Newsletter, a free monthly e-mail with useful information on eating right, staying active, and other steps you can take to help reduce your cancer risk. Log onto www.cancer.org and sign up for this newsletter to help you stay motivated this coming year.
As the nation's largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing about $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year.
Nancy McCard is a community volunteer who serves as the mission chairperson for the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Webster County.