Cancer affects different groups of people in different ways. These differences are called cancer health disparities. In general, minorities in the U.S. have a greater cancer burden than whites. For example, among all racial and ethnic groups, African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival for most cancers. These differences are caused by various factors, including family medical history and lack of access to cancer screening and treatment services.
Roswell Park works to reduce cancer health disparities by improving access to those services. We offer community cancer education programs in both English and Spanish, in both the City of Buffalo and rural Western New York communities, and help remove cultural and economic barriers that may keep people from seeking medical help.
As we mark National Minority Cancer Awareness Week, our Office of Community Outreach and Engagement wants you to be aware of six ways you can reduce your cancer risk. We encourage you to share this information with friends and loved ones, and follow these tips for living a healthy life:
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1. Get regular cancer screening tests.
Regular screening tests can catch some cancers early, when they’re small, have not spread to other parts of the body and are typically easier to treat. With cervical and colon cancers, these tests can even prevent cancer from developing in the first place, by removing cells before they turn into cancer. Talk with your doctor about screening tests for breast, cervical, colon, lung and prostate cancers. To find out what cancer screening tests are recommended for you, fill out our Cancer Screening and Prevention Questionnaire.
2. Stay at a healthy weight and exercise regularly.
Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for many cancers, including breast, colon, endometrial, kidney, esophageal and pancreatic. You can help control your weight through regular exercise and healthy eating.
Physical activity has been shown to lower the risk of several types of cancer, including breast, endometrial, prostate and colon. It also reduces the risk of other serious diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
According to the American Cancer Society, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (equal to a brisk walk) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (makes your heartbeat and breathing faster, and makes you sweat) each week, preferably spread throughout the week. Of course, you should always talk with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
4. Eat a healthy diet.
Studies show that eating a variety of different vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and fish or poultry helps reduce risk of developing certain cancers. On the other hand, eating more red meat, or processed meat — such as bacon, lunch meat or hot dogs — is linked with a higher risk of developing certain cancers.
5. Avoid tobacco.
Tobacco use in the U.S. is responsible for nearly one out of every five deaths — about 480,000 premature deaths each year. About 80% of lung cancer deaths and 40% of all cancer deaths overall are caused by tobacco use.
If you don’t use tobacco products, don’t start. If you do, quit. For help, call the New York State Smokers' Quitline for free help in English or Spanish, at 1-866-NYQUITS (1-866-697-8487) or visit www.nysmokefree.com
6. Limit alcohol.
Research has shown that alcohol can increase your risk for certain cancers, including breast, mouth, throat, esophageal, liver and colorectal. The more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk.
We know that many cancers are related to lifestyle. By adopting these changes, you can reduce the risk of cancer for yourself and your family.