Skip to main content

Five Things You Can Do to Prevent Cancer

Read Time: 3 minutes

Five things you can do to prevent cancer graphic

Despite cancer being the second leading cause of death in the United States, more than 50% of cancers can be prevented. February is Cancer Prevention Month, so here are five lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk:

Avoid or quit tobacco

Tobacco in any form increases your risk of cancer. This includes cigarettes, e-cigarettes, hookah, and chewing tobacco. Quitting tobacco, or better yet, never starting, can greatly reduce your risk of getting cancer and other diseases. You don’t have to do it alone. Get help quitting by visiting

Practice the five Ds to help you quit.

Add light to moderate physical activity into your day

It is recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. Moving your body throughout the day can decrease your chances of getting cancer. Here are some ways to find movement throughout the day:

  • Choose stairs over the elevator.
  • Park further away than normal.
  • Set a timer on your phone to remind you to move around.
  • Take walk breaks or go on walking meetings.
  • Play active games with your family or friends.

Eat cancer-fighting foods

You can lower your chances of getting cancer by eating a variety of plant-based foods. No single food prevents cancer, but a combination of these foods can lower your cancer risk:

  • Vegetables, including leafy greens
  • Whole fruits (not fruit juice)
  • Whole grains
  • Beans, peas, and lentils

How do these plant-based foods help prevent cancer?

  • They contain compounds that repair cells and help fight cancer before it starts.
  • They support the immune system and fight infection.
  • They provide energy and keep waste moving out of the body.
  • They lower inflammation in your body, which can lead to cancer.
  • They help you keep a healthy weight.

Tips to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet.

Practice sun safety

Spending time outside is a great way to be physically active, reduce stress, and get vitamin D. Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. UV rays are an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. UV rays can damage skin cells. Everyone, regardless of skin color or skin type, should take these steps to prevent skin cancer year-round:

Protect your skin from UV rays

  • Try not to tan or burn.
  • Limit sun exposure between 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Wear broad-brimmed hats, long sleeves, and pants.
  • Wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection.
  • Avoid tanning beds.

Use sunscreen

  • Put sunscreen on any areas of the skin not protected by clothing.
  • Apply 20 minutes before going outside, and reapply every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
  • Use sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher, broad spectrum, water resistant, and contains zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or both. 
  • If possible, use lotion sunscreen as it provides better coverage than spray.

Be Sun Safe…Even When It’s Snowing 

Get recommended cancer screenings

Ask your doctor what cancer screenings are right for you based on your sex, age, family history, and smoking history.

Here are some more steps you can take to reduce your risk of cancer:

Get vaccinated

The human papilloma virus (HPV) can cause cervical cancer and the hepatitis B virus (HBV) can lead to liver cancer. Getting HPV and HBV vaccines help prevent cancer.

Learn more about the HPV vaccine

Test your home for radon

One in three Utah homes have high levels of radon. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. You can’t see, taste, or smell radon. The only way to find out if your home has radon is by testing.

Learn more about testing your home for radon

Talk with your doctor

Share your personal and family health history. 

Learn how your family health history can affect your cancer risk

Cancer touches all of us.