Skip to main content

Choose Wisely

You make a thousand choices a day, and every one of them counts. An innocent choice in where to go for lunch could lead to meeting the love of your life. Or taking a different route home from work might mean missing a major traffic jam and making it to your daughter's recital on time. In addition, the seemingly small choices you make today can help you prevent cancer down the road. "If we did everything we know in terms of lifestyle strategies to prevent cancer, we could reduce cancer deaths by 50 percent," says Brittany Blair, APRN, St. Claire Oncology.

Make your decisions matter, starting today.

THE OLD YOU:

Sausage for breakfast? Yes, please!

THE NEW YOU:

A plant-based diet is best for cancer prevention.

"There are certain chemicals, especially in processed meats, that are problematic and can cause cancer," Blair says. Plus, she adds, processed meats, such as sausage, are high in fat and are often mixed with other fats. Instead of bacon or sausage for your morning meal, try whole-grain cereals, an omelet with spinach, steel-cut oatmeal, or fresh fruit.

THE OLD YOU:

I've been smoking for 20 years there's no point in stopping now.

THE NEW YOU:

One word: Quit. "There's no question that quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer," Blair says. And smoking doesn't just cause lung cancer; it also is linked to 13 other cancers.

"The phrase I like to use is, 'Get off the bus,"' he says. Even if you've been smoking for 20 years, each day that you smoke only adds to the damage. By chucking those cigarettes in the trash and seeking out a smoking cessation program (your provider can recommend one) now, you reduce your risk of cancer by at least 30 percent.

THE OLD YOU:

It's winter-there's no need for sunscreen!

THE NEW YOU:

No matter what season it is, ultraviolet rays are harmful. "Skin cancer is the most common cancer we see in this country," Blair says. The good news is that the two most common types of skin cancer-basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas-are treatable if detected early. So keep an eye out for skin changes and alert your provider to them. Wear sunscreen year-round that has a sun-protection factor of at least 30. And, if possible, stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Both these things are crucial for all ages, from babies to seniors, but they are especially important for children. Protecting the skin from UV rays during the first 18 years of life may reduce the risk of some skin cancers by 78 percent, the Prevent Cancer Foundation reports.

THE OLD YOU:

During conference calls, I stay chained to my chair.

THE NEW YOU:

Stand up, walk around, or do squats while you talk. "Twenty-four percent of cancers diagnosed in men and 55 percent in women are associated with being overweight or obese," Blair says. Regularly working physical activity into your day can reduce your risk of colon cancer by about 50 percent, as well as lower your risk for many other cancers. And remember, physical activity doesn’t have to be limited to the gym-though that’s a good place to visit several times a week as well. "Think about how you can be creative in using your time and doing things a little differently that might increase your mobility," Blair says.

Cancer Care Close to Home

St. Claire provides some of the most advanced cancer treatment services, diagnostic technology, and cancer-related education and support. Patients can be assured they are receiving amazing cancer care, close to home. To learn more about SCH’s cancer services, visit https://www.st-claire.org/services/cancer-care/