Yes, getting the right screening tests can help you avoid dying from cancer. But don’t underestimate the benefits of making lifestyle changes that might help you avoid cancer in the first place. For example, if the rate of obesity in the U.S. continues to rise at the current rate, it will lead to an additional 500,000 cases of cancer by 2030, according to projections reported by the National Cancer Institute.
Even small changes can make a big difference. If all adults reduced their body mass index (BMI) by 1 percent (about 2.2 pounds for an adult of average weight), it would not only eliminate that increase but also actually prevent 100,000 more new cancer cases.
On an individual level, research suggests that the following lifestyle factors can reduce your risk of several cancers.
Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity has been linked to about 7 percent of new cancers in women and 4 percent in men. The increased risk was as high as 40 percent for some cancers, particularly certain cancers in the uterus and esophagus.
Be active. Increasing how long, how hard, or how often you exercise can reduce your risk of colon cancer by 30 to 40 percent compared with people who remain sedentary. Physically active women may also lower their risk of breast cancer by at least 20 percent.
Don’t smoke. Smoking causes an estimated 90 percent of lung-cancer deaths. And it increases the risk of dying of some other cancers by 60 to 70 percent, including cancer of the larynx, oral cavity, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas.