GUEST COLUMN: Take steps to prevent cancer

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Exercise is one way to help reduce your chances of getting cancer, along with proper diet, avoiding exposure to dangerous chemicals and toxins in the environment, reducing exposure to the sun and addressing other risk factors.

A photograph hangs in my office of the Amsterdam Clock Tower taken by a local photographer and friend.

The photo is called “A Moment in Time.”

The infinite continued progress of existence and events for the past, present and future is time.

I often look at this photograph and think of the faces of people who would want more of it. More time. What motivates an individual to want more time?

If I look at the statistics of the relationships I no longer have in my life throughout my lifespan, I can tell you the largest portion of those relationships ended from cancer.

Every one of those relationships held genuine love, and they all expressed a desperate desire for more time. Knowing this motivates my spirit to find more time for others.

Abnormal cells that grow out of control and form masses known as tumors is the definition of cancer.

The normal cell should be protected as much as possible. Shield the normal cell. Guard the cell, prevent the cell from growing out of control.

What can be done to keep the cell from growing out of control and forming masses known as tumors?

We can take time to educate ourselves about risk factors for cancer.

Age, race and family history arl risk factors we are born with and grow into.

As we age, our cells could start to change, and if a first-generation relative had a form of cancer, share this information with your primary care provider. Social determinants of health, behaviors, biology and genetics in races have a profound effect on health outcomes.

Our behaviors can determine our risk factors toward cancer also. Science has proven that smoking, overexposure to the sun’s rays, tanning or using tanning devices, being overweight or obese, drinking alcohol, not eating many fruits or vegetables and not getting much exercise can increase our risk of cancer.

Environmental and occupational exposure can also increase our risk factors toward cancer.

Toxic wastes, agricultural pesticides, some landscaping, industrial and manufacturing materials, secondhand smoke, radon, asbestos, components of diesel exhaust and wood burning have links to cancer.

Some household chemicals and personal care products also have links.

What can we do to prevent cells from growing out of control? The short answer is: a lot.

There is a combination of successful interventions and daily activities that can become habits in our lives and in the lives of future generations.

There are successful medical interventions to consider which prevent cancer and can find cancer early when it is most successful to treat. Visit a primary health care provider and discuss cancer screening exams for breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, prostate and skin cancer.

Cancer prevention vaccines such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis vaccines have successfully been in existence for decades and should be considered throughout your lifespan.

Tell your doctor what you do in your lifestyle. Some occupations or exposures could lead to a higher risk of cancer.

Social behaviors can prevent cancer and increase the time we have together building those relationships.

Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke, wear protective clothing and sunscreen so you do not get a tan or a sunburn. Build exercise into your daily activities. Go for a walk or a bike ride each day.

Breastfeeding has an important role in cancer prevention for babies and moms. Eat fruits and vegetables every day and remember to wash them first. Reduce alcohol consumption and make sure you have clean water to drink.

Store household chemicals in ventilated areas away from curious little ones and look at the environment of your home. The environment should have no exposure to radon, carbon monoxide, mold, lead-based paint, fuel storage tanks, vehicle exhaust fumes and some pressure-treated woods.

Properly dispose of unused medicines so they do not end up in our water or soil.

Chemicals such as asbestos, arsenic, benzene, chromium, vinyl chloride and silica can cause abnormal cell growth.

Our primary existence for the human spirit is based on a sense of belonging through relationships.

You can build relationships together while engaging in healthy activities that can protect our cells from growing out of control.

Bring the little one with you to the grocery store and let them pick out the fruit or vegetable they would like to try. Mom or Dad or the neighbor might want to take a walk with you after work.

Take your furry friend with you on the early morning run. They need exercise, too.

There are 1,440 minutes in a day. Every minute counts when you have cancer or when a loved one is fighting cancer.

A moment in time can make a difference in protecting yourself and your future from cancer.

Ginger Champain is a member of the New York State Cancer Consortium.

Categories: Guest Column, Opinion

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