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Be a healthy role model to help reduce your family’s cancer risk

You can help lower your family’s risk of cancer, and you can get started today. Making simple changes to a person’s lifestyle can have a big impact. Take these steps to help lower your risk and set up your family for a healthier future.

Offer options. A balanced diet may help lower the risk of certain types of cancer. Aim for a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. You can also enjoy moderate amounts of fish, chicken, lean meats, and low-fat and fat-free dairy products.

Talk to your kids about why fruits and vegetables are good for them. For young children, you might say: “Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells, and broccoli helps keep them healthy and happy.”

Know the risks of alcohol. Drinking any amount of alcohol may raise your risk for cancer of the breast, colon, rectum, mouth, throat, esophagus and liver.

Make fitness fun for the whole family. Regular exercise may help lower your risk for cancer of the colon, breast, endometrium (the lining of the uterus), bladder, esophagus and stomach. Adults should get 150 to 300 minutes each week of moderately intense activity. If you’re up for vigorous activity, aim for 75 to 150 minutes. Help your children get at least an hour of moderate or vigorous exercise each day. Family walks and hikes are great ways to get everyone active.

Safeguard your skin. The sun’s harmful UV rays can increase the risk of skin cancer. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater.

Give your child a shot against cancer. The HPV vaccine can prevent several kinds of cancer. It’s recommended for preteens ages 11 and 12, but kids as early as age 9 can get it. Those who didn’t get the vaccine in their teens can still get it through age 26.

Be a quitter if you smoke and talk to your kids about why smoking isn’t cool. Cigarette smoking is the No. 1 risk factor for lung cancer, but tobacco use can cause cancer anywhere in your body.

Get screened. Cancer screening can help detect the disease in its early, more treatable stages. Some screening tests, such as a colonoscopy and Pap test, can even spot precancerous cell changes. Talk to your primary care doctor about the screenings tests you may need and urge your partner to do the same.

Sources: American Cancer Society; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Cancer Institute

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