By Kay Quinn, Healthbeat Reporter
St. Louis, MO (KSDK) - Even if you're well, chances are cancer is one of your top health worries.
But there are steps you can take to prevent it, and we're going to explore those with you through our new project, "8 Ways to Prevent Cancer." We're looking for your questions, and each week we'll answer one on the air.
This week, we answer the question: is it really possible to prevent cancer?
"We can definitely reduce risk and prevent cancer," says Dr. Graham Colditz, a researcher at the Siteman Cancer Center.
Cancer. The word conjures up images of tumors, chemotherapy, hair loss.
But Dr. Colditz has spent his career reframing it. Cancer, according to his research, is something we can keep at bay.
"Whether it's stopping smoking, increasing physical activity, weight loss or avoiding weight gain, healthy diet, those strategies definitely translate into significant reductions in cancer, prevention of cancer," says Dr. Colditz.
There are in fact eight areas where simple changes will cut your cancer risk. Eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, don't smoke, drink alcohol in moderation, if at all, protect yourself from the sun and sexually transmitted disease and get regular screening tests. Dr. Colditz was asked to pick just one to get you started.
"I think in America today we can all increase how much we walk," says Dr. Colditz, "how much we're spending effort at being physically active that probably then ties into watching our weight and avoiding more weight gain."
And even if you've been overweight or smoking a pack a day for years, it's never too late for an ounce of prevention to put you on the road toward a pound of cure.
"It's very clear it's not too late to change and reap the benefit of making a lifestyle change," says Dr. Colditz.
Even something as simple as taking a baby aspirin a day has been shown to cut the risk of colon and other cancers in half.
Send me your questions about cancer prevention.
Visit the 8 Ways section of ksdk.com. Click on "Features" and then "Siteman 8 Ways." We may answer yours on the air.