Put Your Health First, Help Prevent Cancer on International Women's Day


March 8 is International Women’s Day, a perfect time to start putting your health first. There are so many great ways to take care of your body and help protect yourself from harmful disease. By following the advice of the American Cancer Society, you can even prevent cancer. Here are five ways to keep you—and your loved ones—healthy.

1. Exercise. Up to 20 percent of all cancer-related deaths are associated with being overweight or obese, which is why it’s so important to get up and get moving! Just thirty minutes of aerobic exercise can make a huge difference in keeping healthy and preventing cancer. The best part? There’s so much you can do! Walk, bike, run, play sports, mow the lawn, dance and more. Make it fun!

2. Eat right. It’s so important to fuel your body with healthy foods, which is why the American Cancer Society recommends 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day. Choose whole grain rice, bread, and pasta instead of refined or processed grains. Eat lean proteins in place of processed meats like cold cuts, bacon and hot dogs. Of course, you don’t have to give up all your favorite treats! You can still indulge in sweets or high-calorie foods from time to time; just remember, moderation is key.

Eating right can also help you maintain a healthy weight. To find your healthy number, visit the American Cancer Society’s website at www.cancer.org.

3. Avoid tobacco and alcohol. Research shows that smokers are up to 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers, and smoking causes about 80 percent of lung cancer deaths. Alcohol can lower the body’s ability to stay healthy and is a known cause of nearly ten different cancers. If you need help quitting or cutting back, the ACS website has resources to help you.

4. Protect your skin. The sun is bright and pretty, but those harsh rays can damage your skin and lead to painful, unsightly skin cancer. More than two million people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year, some of which is deadly. Protect yourself all year: wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or more, even on hazy days! Wear sunglasses, protective clothing, and a hat when you can’t keep to the shade.

5. Stay in touch with your doctor. It’s so important to get regular checkups and screenings; they could save your life. “It’s common for people to say, why should I be tested for cancer when I feel fine?” says Roberta Cahill, a member of the Yankton Sioux tribe in South Dakota and an American Cancer Society employee. “But here’s the thing: some cancers don’t cause symptoms, like colon cancer. They have no warning signs until it is spread, and then it’s too late. The best time to be tested is when you are feeling fine.” What’s the good news? There are lots of tests that can find cancer early! Think of it this way: a screening isn’t looking for disease. It’s looking for the best way to protect you.

Follow these five steps, and you will have a healthier body and a healthier life. Take care of those around you, and stay strong for generations to come!

For more tips on staying healthy, visit the American Cancer Society website at www.cancer.org.

About the American Cancer Society

At the ACS, our vision is a world with less cancer and more birthdays. As part of that vision, we are fighting cancer in every community, for every family, to help save lives. We recognize each community has different needs and we’re here to help everyone stay well and get well, to find cures, and to fight back against cancer. For cancer information, contact us at www.cancer.org or 1.800.227.2345.

For healthy tips and tricks, go to the ACS’s women’s health website, www.chooseyou.com.

Charlotte Hofer is Public Relations Manager for the American Cancer Society in South Dakota. She is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, and her work for ACS focuses on cancer education to diverse populations through the media. Contact her at charlotte.hofer@cancer.org