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Battle plan: Four health tips to lower your cancer risk

Cancer is among the most common causes of death in the U.S., second only to heart disease. It's smart to have a battle plan for preventing cancer. Here are four steps to get you armed and ready.

1. Do good recon

Infections, viruses and bacteria cause about 1 in 10 cases of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Some infections are linked to liver, lymphoma, cervical, stomach and oral cancers. Preventive care gives you a lay of the land before cancer strikes - and it can help detect invasions early, when diseases and precancerous cells are at their most treatable. Make sure that you get to know your doctor, and understand your own health history and risk factors.

  • Plan wellness visits and immunizations for your family per your health plan's Preventive Care Schedule. Scheduled preventive healthcare is covered at 100% on your GuideStone health plan.

2. Wear the right armor

Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight is the main cause of non-melanoma skin cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, two million skin cancers that are diagnosed annually could be prevented by proper sunscreen use and avoiding indoor tanning.

  • To provide your skin with the best protection, use broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30. Be sure to slather it on at least 20 minutes before sun exposure.

3. Get into fighting form

About two out of three Americans are overweight or obese. Obesity is linked to breast, colon and rectum, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, cervix, ovary, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma and prostate cancers.

In the U.S., excess body weight may contribute to 1 in 5 cancer-related deaths. During your annual physical, your doctor can assess if you are at a healthy weight. You can also use the Body Mass Index (BMI) as an estimate.

  • Improve your fighting form by balancing what you consume (the calories you eat or drink) with what you exert (physical activity and exercise).

4. Put the right tools in your arsenal

Two of the best tools for fighting cancer are proper nutrition and regular exercise. According to the American Cancer Society, one-third of all cancer deaths in the U.S. each year are linked to poor diet and physical inactivity.

Frequency, intensity and duration are key when it comes to exercise. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity each week. Physical activity can reduce the risk of breast, colon, endometrium and prostate cancers.

Proper nutrition can help your body become a fortress. Studies have shown that eating a variety fruits and vegetables, reducing red meat intake, cutting back on saturated fats and curbing sugar intake can help reduce your risk of cancers.

  • Vary moderate intensity activity (walking, mowing the lawn or lifting weights) with vigorous intensity workouts (running, bicycling or playing tennis).

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables, and limit high-calorie foods like fried foods, soft drinks and sweets.

Visit National Cancer Institute to learn about additional risk factors and other ways to prevent and battle cancer. For more information about cancer, other wellness challenges, healthy eating articles or ways to improve your wellness, visit Fit Facts and keep pursuing your wellness goals.

GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention welcomes the opportunity to share this general information. However, this article is not intended to be relied upon as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.