Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States. Many people are impacted by this national public health threat. But everyday discussions about it rarely include the very important fact that cancer is largely preventable.
There are two major areas to think about when it comes to cancer prevention—internal factors and external factors.
Internal factors that contribute to cancer are:
• Inherited genetic mutations
• Immune conditions
• Mutations that occur from metabolism
External factors that contribute to cancer:
Some factors, like genetic mutations, are out of your control. However, the majority of factors is related to our lifestyle choices, and correcting those can make a big difference in reducing your risk of developing the abnormal unhealthy cells that cause cancer.
The American Cancer Society has found that more than half of all cancer deaths could be prevented by curbing or eliminating these lifestyle habits:
• Tobacco use
• Heavy alcohol consumption
• Being overweight or obese
• Leading a primarily inactive lifestyle
• Poor nutrition
Given these facts, there are three key ways to protect your health from cancer:
1. Get a full health evaluation
2. Keep up with annual cancer screenings if you have high genetic risk
3. Permanently eliminate poor health behaviors
Get a full health evaluation
Make an appointment with Dr. Elena Klimenko, an integrative functional medicine physician in New York City, or a similar physician in your local area. Ask for a full health evaluation. This kind of doctor will assess your health not only based on symptoms but based on your full medical history. The evaluation should comprise extensive lab tests, including genetic health tests, that show at a cellular level the status and potential risks of your internal health. Knowing as much as possible about your current state of wellness and genetic cancer risk can empower you to stay healthy versus waiting for an unwanted diagnosis. Prevention is key.
Keep up with annual cancer screenings if you have high genetic risk
After completing a full health evaluation and learning of your genetic risks for cancer, you will know whether you should be screened annually for certain types. If so, you can schedule your annual visits in advance and be sure to never miss them. Making the screenings a part of your annual health habits will make it easy to take care of yourself and your health. If based on labs and lifestyle factors you are not at a high risk for cancer, you can be screened every few years, as recommended by your doctor.
Permanently eliminate at-risk behaviors
If your lifestyle is high risk right now because you smoke, drink lots of alcohol regularly or are overweight and sedentary, you can get help to quit all of these habits. If your doctor is an integrative functional medicine physician, they understand that it is important to treat the person not the symptoms so they can help you adapt new lifestyle behaviors without relying on pharmaceutical prescriptions. You may also find help to eliminate these behaviors through community programs that you can learn about at your local or state health department, such as the New York State Department of Health.
Dr. Elena Klimenko, MD is an integrative and functional medicine physician in New York City. She specializes in helping unhealthy people get well, and healthy people stay well, through the power of traditional and alternative medicine. At her practice, Healthy, Wealthy & Wise Medical P.C., you will get compassionate, preventive care. Dr. Klimenko provides the attention you deserve, real answers about your health, and personalized treatments for your total wellness. For an appointment call 212-696-4325.