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Cancer awareness and prevention

According to the National Cancer Institute half of all men and one-third of all women in the U.S. will develop cancer during their lifetimes. It is no wonder that you have probably known someone or even yourself experienced the effects of cancer in your life. The most common cancers found in North Dakota: Men: prostate, lung/bronchus and colorectal. Women: breast, lung/ bronchus and colorectal. 

The word “cancer” alone invokes fear, anxiety and stress when we hear it. So what is cancer and why are more of those around us affected by this serious disease? 

Cancer is not a single disease, but a group of diseases that is caused by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. There are more than 100 different types of cancer. Our bodies are made of hundreds of living cells. These cells grow, divide and die in an orderly fashion. Cancer starts when cells in the body start to grow out of control. Instead of dying, cancer cells continue to grow. Cells are directed by DNA. The DNA directs cells to act in a normal fashion, however, when cancer occurs, the DNA in the cells is abnormal. People can inherit this abnormal DNA, but most times abnormal DNA happens because of mistakes in the DNA formation which is caused by the environment in which the cells are forming. 

The good news is that today we have more opportunities for cancer prevention and treatment options than ever before!  Consider making these seven cancer prevention tips:

1. Don’t use tobacco. Using any type of tobacco puts you on a collision course with cancer. Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer including: lung, bladder, cervix and kidney.

2. Eat a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Limit fat and if you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. 

3. Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active. Maintaining a healthy weight may lower the risk of various types of cancer, including breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney. Physical activity includes at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity. 

4. Protect yourself from the sun.  Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer and one of the most preventable.

5. Get immunized. Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections. Talk to your doctor about immunization against: Hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV). 

6. Avoid risky behaviors that can lead to infections that increase the risk of cancer.

7. Regular medical care including cancer screening tests. Regular self-exams and screenings for various types of cancers such as skin, colon, prostate, cervix and breast. Screening can increase your chances of discovering cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful.

The NYNY challenge provides a chance to start a healthy lifestyle that will encourage cancer prevention steps. To start your journey, set a goal and begin taking cancer prevention into your own hands. Research shows that lifestyle changes could prevent 50 percent of cancers.  The changes you make might be minimal but the rewards will last a lifetime. To learn more, go to www.centralval

Earn 15 points this week for completing any annual preventative exam within the past 12 months, or for having one scheduled within the next three months.

Refer to the above website for age appropriate screening information.