Fox Chase Cancer Center Offers Tips to Reduce Your Risk for Cancer

The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that about 20 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. are related to body fatness, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption and/or poor nutrition.

PHILADELPHIA (December 2, 2019) – Did you know that your chances of developing cancer may be affected by your lifestyle?  According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 42 percent of cancer cases and 45 percent of cancer deaths in the U.S. are attributed to modifiable risk factors. Furthermore, cancer screening tests can prevent thousands of cancer cases and deaths.

“Modifiable risk factors are behaviors within one’s control, such as eating right, not smoking, and being physically active,” explained Michael J. Hall, MD, MS, chair of the Department of Clinical Genetics at Fox Chase Cancer Center. “However, some risk factors cannot be controlled, such as family history or getting older. That’s why getting regular recommended cancer screenings may be just as important as living a healthy lifestyle.”

Fox Chase Cancer Center offers cancer prevention tips that can lower your risk for certain types of cancer:

Get Regular Cancer Screenings:

Screening increases the chance of detecting certain cancers early (when they are most curable and before individuals show any symptoms).

“Men and women should discuss screening options with their doctor to determine when and how frequently they should be tested for certain types of cancer,” said Hall. “Individuals with a family history of cancer or those concerned about their specific risk may want to make an appointment with Fox Chase’s Risk Assessment Program.”

Stay Away From Tobacco:

Tobacco use is strongly linked to an increased risk for many kinds of cancer, including cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, cervix, colon, and rectum (as well as acute myeloid leukemia). In fact, scientists believe cigarette smoking causes about 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the U.S. Not smoking or quitting smoking lowers an individual’s risk of both developing and dying from cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than that of non-smokers. Quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related disease by about 90 percent.

“Quitting smoking, or not starting, is the best thing you can do to help prevent cancer—no matter your age and even if you’ve smoked for years,” said Hall.

Secondhand smoke is also known to cause cancer, so it is best for individuals to avoid exposure as much as possible.

Be Safe in the Sun:

According to the ACS, skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer, and most skin cancers are a result of exposure to the UV rays in sunlight. Basal cell and squamous cell cancers (the most common types of skin cancer) tend to be found on parts of the body that are typically exposed to the sun. The risk of melanoma (a more serious but less common type of skin cancer) is also related to sun exposure, but possibly not as much as other types. Skin cancer has also been linked to exposure to some man-made sources of UV rays, such as tanning beds and sun lamps.

If you plan to be outdoors, regardless of season, protect yourself with sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30 or higher. Also, seek shade when UV sunlight is the strongest:  between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Other ways to lower your risk of skin cancer include covering your skin with clothing when out in the sun (such as a long-sleeve shirt and a hat) and wearing sunglasses with 99-100 percent UV absorption to protect your eyes. Labels that say “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “meets ANSI UV requirements” mean the glasses block at least 99 percent of UV rays. 

Eat a Healthy Diet and be Physically Active:

A poor diet and not being physically active can increase your risk for cancer. The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that about 20 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. are related to body fatness, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption and/or poor nutrition.

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of several cancers, including breast (in women past menopause), colon and rectum, endometrium (lining of the uterus), esophagus, pancreas, kidney, and more.

“It’s essential to watch what you eat as well as how much you eat,” said Hall. “Physical activity is also necessary for maintaining weight balance and good health. It helps reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and it can improve hormone levels and the immune system.”

The ACS recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderately intense or 75 minutes of vigorously intense activity (or equal combination) throughout the week.

Other health-minded tips include selecting foods and drinks in amounts that help you get to and maintain a healthy weight, limiting your intake of processed meat and red meat, eating at least two-and-a-half cups of fruits and vegetables a day, and choosing whole grains over refined grains. Men who drink alcohol should consume no more than two drinks per day, and women should limit their intake to one drink per day.

Protect Yourself Against HPV:

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common infection that can lead to cancer-causing health problems. According to the ACS, every year, more than 33,000 U.S. men and women are diagnosed with cancers caused by HPV.

The HPV vaccine helps prevent six types of cancer, and it is recommended for boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 12.

“The HPV vaccine can protect children from developing certain cancers in their adulthood,” said Hall. The vaccine is expected to prevent 90 percent of HPV cancers when given before an individual is exposed to the virus.

Fox Chase Cancer Center offers a Risk Assessment Program for individuals and families concerned about their risk for certain types of cancer. To learn more, visit

To learn more about cancer risk and resources, visit

Additional Resources

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence six consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

For more information, call 888-369-2427