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Cancer Prevention

August, 2022 - Last update: January, 2024

What is Cancer Prevention?

Cancer prevention entails active measures taken to reduce the chances of getting cancer. Prevention can include things you change in your daily life as well as things you would avoid to prevent cancer.

Vaccines

There are many infections that can lead to the development of cancer. These include Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Hepatitis B and C.

HPV can cause cancer in the reproductive organs and the oropharynx of both males and females. HPV is a very common infection and does not cause cancer every time. The body’s immune system attempts to suppress the infection. However, some infections can lead to cancer. The HPV vaccine helps prevent HPV infections. It is most effective when administered between ages 9 and 12 for both boys and girls.

Hepatitis B and C (HBV and HCV) can both cause cancer of the liver or bile duct. The chance of cancer development is higher if infected by both HBV and HCV. These infections can cause scarring of the liver, which can also contribute to liver cancer development. A vaccine for HBV helps prevent Hepatitis B infections and is offered to teenagers across Canada. It is encouraged to get vaccinated for HBV before traveling to high-risk areas like Africa and Asia. No HCV vaccine exists, but HCV can be prevented by not sharing needles or personal care tools (razors, nail clippers, etc.) and practicing safe sex.

Diet and Physical Activity

Diabetes and obesity can increase your risk of developing cancer. In order to prevent this, it is important to follow a healthy diet and watch your weight. Obesity leads to an increase in hormones in the body that contribute to cell production. This can lead to the development of prostate, breast, uterine, colon, gallbladder, liver and kidney cancers. Diabetes and cancer both share similar risk factors, however, both can be prevented through a healthy diet and daily physical activity. Daily physical activity has been proven to reduce cancer development. By staying active, hormones associated with cancer are reduced and the body’s immune system is improved. It also lowers the risk of developing diabetes or obesity.

Lifestyle

To prevent melanoma, also known as skin cancer, it is important to protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen and covering up when in the sun. This is the best way to protect your skin from sun damage and cancer.
Smoking and tobacco usage can lead to the development of lung cancer, esophageal cancer and stomach cancer, to name a few. Avoid tobacco consumption and smoking to prevent the development of various cancers associated with smoking.

Alcohol consumption can lead to the development of liver, pancreas and brain cancers. It is important to limit alcohol consumption to prevent alcohol-associated cancers.

Screening

To stay diligent with cancer prevention, early detection is essential. It is encouraged that cancer screening is done routinely, especially if you have a genetic history of cancer. There are various ways to screen for cancer, speak to your doctor about what options work best for you.

Works

Cancer Prevention Overview (PDQ®)–Patient Version – NCI
Healthy Choices to Lower Your Cancer Risk | CDC

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