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Cancer prevention tips

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately one-third of all cancer cases worldwide are preventable through lifestyle modifications and early detection. By adopting certain lifestyle changes, you not only reduce your individual risk but also contribute to a collective effort in reducing the global burden of cancer.

  • Maintain a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

  • Engage in regular physical activity and maintain a healthy weight.

  • Avoid tobacco products, including smoking and chewing tobacco.

  • Protect your skin from the sun by using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing.

  • Limit alcohol consumption or avoid it altogether.

  • Get regular cancer screenings and check-ups, as recommended by your healthcare provider.

  • Be aware of your family history and discuss it with your doctor.

  • Practice safe sex and get vaccinated against HPV to reduce the risk of certain cancers.

  • Limit exposure to environmental toxins and carcinogens.

  • Manage stress through relaxation techniques and stress-reduction strategies.

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The role diet plays in cancer prevention

A healthy diet can influence various aspects of your body's function, including the immune system, cell growth, and inflammation, all of which are closely related to cancer development.

  • Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. This protection can help prevent DNA mutations that can lead to cancer.

  • Foods like whole grains, legumes, and vegetables are high in dietary fiber. A high-fiber diet can help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

  • A balanced diet can help maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including breast, colon, and prostate cancer.

  • Reducing or eliminating the consumption of processed meats, sugary drinks, and excessive alcohol can lower the risk of cancers such as colorectal, liver, and esophageal cancer.

  • A well-balanced diet provides essential nutrients that support a strong immune system. A robust immune system can recognize and eliminate abnormal cells, reducing the risk of cancer development.

How can regular exercise prevent cancer?

  • Weight management: Exercise can help individuals achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a significant risk factor for many types of cancer, including breast, colon, ovarian, and prostate cancer. By reducing excess body fat, exercise lowers the risk of cancer associated with obesity.

  • Hormone regulation: Physical activity can help regulate hormone levels in the body. High levels of certain hormones, such as estrogen, can increase the risk of hormone-related cancers, like breast and uterine cancer. Exercise helps balance hormone levels, reducing the risk.

  • Immune system boost: Regular exercise has been shown to enhance the function of the immune system. A strong immune system can detect and eliminate abnormal cells, including those that may develop into cancer. This improves the body's ability to defend against cancerous growth.

  • Improved insulin sensitivity: Exercise enhances the body's sensitivity to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. High insulin levels are associated with an increased risk of some cancers, particularly pancreatic, colorectal, and endometrial cancers. By improving insulin sensitivity, exercise helps reduce this risk.

  • Reduced inflammation: Chronic inflammation is a factor in cancer development. Regular physical activity can help reduce inflammation in the body, lowering the risk of inflammation-related cancers, such as colon and liver cancer.

  • Improved digestive health: Exercise can promote healthy digestion and regular bowel movements. This may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by minimizing the time that potentially harmful substances spend in the colon.

  • DNA repair: Physical activity may enhance the body's ability to repair damaged DNA. When DNA damage is left unrepaired, it can lead to mutations that contribute to cancer development.

Stress reduction techniques to lower the risk of cancer

Deep breathing exercise

  1. Choose a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down. You can use a chair, cushion, or mat depending on your preference.

  2. Sit or lie with your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and hands resting gently on your lap or by your sides.

  3. If you're comfortable, close your eyes to help you focus and minimize distractions.

  4. Begin by taking a slow, deep breath in through your nose. Inhale deeply, allowing your lungs to fill with air. As you do this, mentally count to four. Feel your chest and abdomen rise.

  5. At the top of your inhalation, hold your breath for a brief moment. Count to four in your mind.

  6. Now, exhale slowly and completely through your mouth or nose. Release the air from your lungs while mentally counting to four.

  7. At the end of your exhalation, pause for another count of four. During this pause, focus on the sensation of emptiness in your lungs.

  8. Repeat this deep breathing cycle for several minutes, or for as long as you find comfortable and relaxing. Inhale for a count of four, hold for four, exhale for four, and pause for four.

If you're new to deep breathing exercises, you can start with a count of three and gradually work your way up to longer counts as you become more comfortable. During the exercise, focus your mind on your breath. If your thoughts wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath and the counting. 

Yoga poses

Practicing yoga offers various benefits, including improved posture, relaxation, and increased body awareness. If you’re new to yoga, you can get started with these beginner-friendly poses.

  • Mountain pose: A foundational pose that helps improve posture and awareness of body alignment.

    • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointing forward.

    • Keep your arms relaxed by your sides with your palms facing forward.

    • Engage your leg muscles, lift your kneecaps, and gently tuck your tailbone.

    • Lengthen your spine, roll your shoulders back and down, and lift your chest.

    • Take deep breaths, relax, and hold this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

  • Child's pose: Excellent for relaxation and relieving stress.

    • Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.

    • Bring your big toes together and knees apart, about hip-width distance.

    • Sit back onto your heels and stretch your arms forward, lowering your forehead to the mat.

    • Relax your arms, shoulders, and neck. Breathe deeply and focus on your breath.

    • Hold this pose for 1-2 minutes or as long as it feels comfortable.

  • Cat-Cow pose: Helps improve spinal flexibility, relieves tension in the back, and promotes mindfulness of breath and movement.

    • Start in a tabletop position with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips.

    • Inhale as you arch your back, lifting your tailbone and head toward the ceiling. This is the Cow pose.

    • Exhale as you round your spine, tucking your chin to your chest. This is the Cat pose.

    • Continue to flow between Cow and Cat with your breath for several rounds (at least 5-10 cycles).

Benefits of nature walks

Nature walks offer a host of physical, mental, and emotional benefits, making them a valuable activity for overall well-being.

  • Stress reduction

  • Improved mood

  • Enhanced mental clarity

  • Physical exercise

  • Vitamin D production

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Enhanced immune function

  • Reconnection with nature

  • Improved sleep

Care where you want it

You don’t have to look far for a team of specialists dedicated to helping you get back to the things you love. Our Dignity Health Advanced Imaging Group physicians are here to lend a helping hand.