Researchers have discovered that cancer is caused by changes in genes that control cell growth. Environmental factors such as tobacco use, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, poor diet and exposure to cancer-causing substances can change normal genes into genes that allow cancer growth. Some gene changes are inherited from one or both parents, but this does not mean cancer will always develop. Researchers are still examining factors that may increase or decrease a person's chance of developing cancer.
Review the National Cancer Institute's list of risk factors and possible causes for various types of cancers.
Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent cancer, taking charge of your health and living a healthy lifestyle are the keys to lowering your cancer risk. You can reduce your risk by:
- Not using tobacco products
- Choosing foods with less fat and eating five or more servings of vegetables, fruits and whole grains
- Exercising regularly (moderate activity for 30 minutes, five days a week) and maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoiding the harmful rays of the sun, using sunscreen and wearing clothing that protects the skin
- Talking with a doctor about the possible benefits of drugs proven to reduce the risk of certain cancers
For more ways to help reduce your risk for certain cancers, visit the American Cancer Society online.