A quick overview of what we’ll cover in this blog post:
- An overview of cancer
- Common risks factors associated with cancer
- Ways to reduce your risk and detect cancer early
Cancer is a word no one wants to hear. Unfortunately, according to the CDC, there were about 1.7 million new cases of cancer in 2018. What’s more worrying, the number of new cases is expected to rise by almost 10 million in the next 15 to 20 years, up to 29 million new cases each year.
But despite how grim this statistic looks, there is some good news. There’s a lot you can do to reduce your risk and catch cancer early, which may significantly increase the chances of successful treatment.
At AgelessRx, we value early detection: that’s why screening for cancer is a key part of our longevity strategy. So keep reading to learn more about cancer prevention and detection!
What is cancer?
Cancer, at a basic level, is uncontrolled cell growth. Usually, this cell growth leads to the formation of tumors.
The body makes new cells all the time—it’s how we grow, after all! However, the body usually has mechanisms to prevent tumors from forming in the first place. Sometimes, though, these mechanisms don’t work correctly. Family genetics or external, environmental factors (such as exposure to radiation) can affect these mechanisms. Lifestyle habits (diet, drinking, etc.) can also negatively impact our immune system and its ability to regulate uncontrolled cell growth.
Every cancer has a different cause (which has led to the development of targeted cancer therapies). That’s why it’s important to understand the underlying mechanisms of cancer when it comes to managing your risk of cancer: what causes cancer, and how can I intervene?
Why does cancer often go undiagnosed?
We’ve probably all heard stories about someone getting diagnosed with cancer and finding out it’s advanced and hard to treat. So why wasn’t it caught earlier?
The truth is, cancer is tricky to diagnose because it doesn’t often cause symptoms. Some cancers might be easier to notice (such as skin cancer) or may have noticeable signs (such as lumps), but most go unnoticed until the tumor is large enough to disrupt the body’s normal functions.
Actively screening for cancer could help you catch cancer early. At home, you can regularly check yourself for lumps that could indicate some types of cancer (such as testicular or breast cancer).
Many cancers, however, require several pieces of data to make a diagnosis—blood tests, imaging scans, and more, all of which can be costly and time-consuming.
A convenient option is The Galleri Multi-Cancer Early Detection Test which can detect up to over 50 types of cancer, and has a low false positive and false negative rate. The best part? You can request a kit directly through AgelessRx here!
What are common risk factors for cancer?
While many factors can cause cancer, these are some of the most common:
Certain infections increase the risk of some cancers. The human papillomavirus (HPV), for example, is the number one cause of almost all cervical cancers, and can cause other cancers in both men and women.
If you have a family history of cancer, you may be at a higher risk.
Many lifestyle habits increase the risk of cancer, including smoking, drinking, and diet. Research has shown pretty convincingly that alcohol and cigarettes, in particular, can increase the risk of cancer.
While there is less of a definitive connection between the foods we eat and cancer risk, healthy diets help our overall health (e.g., improving overall immune health, improving metabolism, reducing inflammation), which could be beneficial for cancer risk.
How can you lower your risk of cancer?
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent cancer, there’s a lot you can do to minimize your risk or improve the chances of treating cancer successfully if you have it. Here are a few things you can do:
- Get screened regularly. This is especially important if you have a family history of cancer. Detecting cancer early can increase the odds that treatment will work. The Galleri Multi-Cancer Early Detection Test can help with detection.
- Understand your risk. There are plenty of free online tools out there that can help you identify and understand your risk for various cancer risk factors. With knowledge comes power and the opportunity to talk to your healthcare professional as early as possible.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can increase certain hormones in the body that can trigger cancer activity.
- Drink less alcohol. Though even moderate drinking could pose some risk, excessive drinking should be avoided.
- Avoid smoking. This helps prevent toxic chemicals in cigarettes from messing with the body’s immune system (which can prevent the body from stopping cells from becoming cancerous).
If you’re worried about your risk of cancer, now is the time to act. Talk to your doctor or check out detection tools available at AgelessRx today!