Make Cancer Prevention a Priority in 2019 With These Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

2019 Sign in Sunset

Is your New Year’s resolution list a little light on specifics? We’re here to help with some cancer prevention practices you can put in place in 2019 to get a head start on a healthy future.

Cut down on red and processed meats…

“A healthy diet should be low in meat overall, and red meat in particular. Red meat and processed meats are associated with increased colorectal cancer risk.” Theodore Brasky, PhD, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James)

… while loading up on fiber

“There is a connection between chronic inflammation and most diseases, including cancer, [and] there is overwhelming evidence that diets high in fiber help with inflammation. You can get fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.” – Susan Berkman, RD, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Say “see ya” to smoking…

“Smoking is responsible for one in five deaths in the United States. It causes lung cancer but also cancers of the bladder, head and neck, as well as other sites; not to mention its relationship with other chronic diseases like COPD and heart disease.” – Brasky

... but don’t move too fast

“It’s unreasonable to go to zero immediately. Cut back a few cigarettes a week every few weeks. In a few months, you’ll be down to only a few a day, and then it’s easier to stop completely. Also, nicotine patches and gum gradually wean you off the chemical addiction of nicotine, but they don’t allow all the toxic chemicals to get into your lungs.” Michael Wert, MD, OSUCCC – James

Re-think how much you drink

“Alcohol is a carcinogen, and high levels of drinking are related to several types of cancer, such as esophageal cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic and colon cancer, and breast cancer in women.” — Brasky

Get moving

“Physical activity in any form can reduce the risk of cancer, so try and be more active and limit your sedentary behaviors.” – Candice Schreiber, RD, CSO, LD, OSUCCC – James

Undergo recommended screenings, which may include a mammogram…

“Multiple studies have shown that mammograms save lives by catching breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it metastasizes and spreads to other parts of the body. At the OSUCCC – James, we have a team of subspecialized radiologists who focus only on breast imaging. At some smaller hospitals or community hospitals, it may not be feasible for radiologists to focus on a subspecialty.” Mitva Patel, MD, OSUCCC – James

… a lung cancer screening…

“There are so many benefits to catching lung cancer early. In some cases, it can be treated and cured with just surgery, and the patient may not even need chemotherapy.” – Wert

… or genetic counseling

“If you have a family history of early-onset cancer, relatives with more than one cancer (not counting metastases) or three relatives on the same side of your family with the same or related cancers, you should consider having a cancer genetics evaluation to determine whether or not your family might have a hereditary cancer susceptibility.” Heather Hampel, MS, LGC, OSUCCC – James

Be smart in the sun…

“To accomplish good sun protection, seek shade, wear sunglasses and sun-protective clothing, and apply sunscreen when you can’t avoid the sun or can’t cover your skin.” Alisha Plotner, MD, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

… and avoid tanning beds altogether

Tanning beds emit a large dose of UV—several times the level of the midday summer sun—and can lead to a two-fold increase in the risk for melanoma with further increases in risk with repeated exposure.” – Brasky

Encourage your kids to make a healthy resolution—and lead by example

“Kids model their behavior from their parents, so a good first step is to set a good example for them at home with a plant-based diet. It’s not that hard and it’s easy to create meals they’ll really like to eat.” – Schreiber

Prevention plans aren't one-size-fits-all—create one that works for you

“The important thing is to start somewhere. Set goals that are attainable and meaningful to you. The only way a healthy lifestyle can be sustained is if it is realistic for a person’s actual life.” – Sagar Sardesai, MD