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How to reduce cancer risk

There are many known risk factors for cancer. It has been estimated that smoking is responsible for 30% of all cancer deaths and that one-third of cancers can be linked to diet, obesity and lack of exercise.

Risk reduction is taking action to lower one's risk of developing cancer. Risk can be increased or decreased by lifestyle choices and the kind of environment a person lives and works in. About half of all cancers can be prevented through healthy living and policies that protect the public.

Reducing your risk

To help reduce your risk of developing cancer, follow these general steps:

Live well. Make healthy choices.

  • Be a non-smoker and avoid second-hand smoke.
  • Keep a healthy body weight.
  • Be active and eat well.
  • Limit alcohol. The less you drink, the more you reduce your risk.
  • Protect your skin. Be safe in the sun and don’t use tanning beds or lamps.

Be aware. Look after yourself.

  • Know your body and watch for signs of cancer.
  • Report any changes in your health to your doctor.
  • Get screened and help find cancer early.
  • Check your family’s cancer history.
  • Understand how hormones and infections affect your cancer risk.
  • Get rid of harmful substances at work and at home.

Get involved. Help reduce risks for everyone.

  • Raise awareness about cancer prevention in your community.
  • Reduce cancer risks for the next generation.
  • Fight for public policy to make healthy living easier for everyone.
  • Find out how you can help the Canadian Cancer Society fight for change right now.


photo of Dan I feel honoured that I was a part of these people’s lives … honoured to have been there for them, to have listened and offered hope that it will be okay.

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Clinical trial discovery improves quality of life

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A clinical trial led by the Society’s NCIC Clinical Trials group found that men with prostate cancer who are treated with intermittent courses of hormone therapy live as long as those receiving continuous therapy.

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