What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Getting Cancer?


There are two types of risk factors that increase your chances of getting cancer: risk factors that you can't control and risk factors that you can control.

Risk factors you can't control include age, gender, family history and race.

Controllable risk factors include lifestyle choices that place you at greater risk of getting cancer. These include:

  • tobacco usage (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, secondhand smoke),
  • alcohol consumption
  • obesity
  • lack of exercise
  • exposure to too much sun
Other risk factors include exposure to carcinogens, such as radon, asbestos, benzene, arsenic, hormones and pollution. Also avoid excess radiation exposure.

You can reduce your risk of getting cancer by following these suggestions:

  • Eat a balanced diet that includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Limit your consumption of alcohol, high calorie food, fried/grilled food, and food high in dietary fats. Avoid red meat and meat treated with growth promoters.
  • Try to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise for at least 60 minutes a day. Try to walk more instead of driving. Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Put an exercise bike in front of the television and ride it while you watch TV.
  • Minimize exposure to the sun, especially from 10 am to 2 pm. Wear sunscreen with a rating of at least SPF 15. Avoid tanning beds and other sources of UVA/UVB exposure.
  • Stop smoking. Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, pipes and cigars all cause lung cancer, as well as stomach, liver, pancreatic, bladder, and kidney cancers, and also leukemia. Secondhand smoke can also cause cancer.
  • Get screened as directed by your doctor, and perform monthly breast self exams and testicular self exams. Early detection is the key to survival for many types of cancer.

Copyright © 2005-2018 by Mark Kantrowitz. All rights reserved.

Suggestions and corrections are welcome and should be sent to .