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National Cancer Prevention Month: Know Your Risks and Get Screened

Nobody knows your body better than you, but take the initiative and get screened. 

Every year, February sweeps the states with love. Chocolate, flowers, diamonds—who can ask for a more fabulous month? But February is also National Cancer Prevention Month and doll, there’s no better way to show yourself love than by taking care of your own body.

As U.S. Public Diplomacy Envoy, and President and Visionary of the Cancer Schmancer Movement, I have made it my life’s mission to empower women with the education they need to prevent and diagnose cancer in its earliest stages. We want women to know the early warning “whispers” (as I call them) that are so subtle they are often ignored until it’s too late or are misdiagnosed for benign illnesses. Most American women are the caregivers for their children, their spouses, and their elders. And when you put your family’s health before your own, you’re really putting them last because you’re useless to them when you’re six feet under!

Nearly one-third of all cancers are preventable, so you can reduce your risk for cancer by changing your lifestyle. Play an active role in National Cancer Prevention Month and your own health by following these tips.

Live Healthy—Exercising and eating right is important in not only preventing cancer, but keeping your body in shape for a long, healthy life. Control your weight, fill your plate with fruits and veggies, and begin an exercise routine. Read the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ guidelines for physical education. Girls, let’s get up and get active!

Quit Smoking—Smoking damages almost every organ in the body and accounts for nearly 30 percent of all cancer deaths. Do your lungs a favor and never light up—they are doing a good job for you, so be a good mama and take care of them.

Limit Sun Exposure—Constant exposure to the sun for that “gorgeous” tan is not worth increasing your risk for cancer. Tans will fade but the damage to your skin won’t! We have to remember that skin in a living organ and it is just as important to take care of it just as we do our lungs, heart, and bones. Always wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, wear clothing that protects your skin when you are out in the sun, and avoid tanning beds!

Get Screened—Regular screening and self-exams play a huge role in early detection of cancer. This includes getting the HPV vaccine and yearly PAP tests for cervical and vaginal cancer, fecal occult blood tests for colon and rectum cancer, and yearly mammograms for breast cancer. Don’t forget your monthly breast self-examinations.

Beware of the Environment—Our bodies are exposed to chemicals every day, from our homes to our workplace. Think organic, choose greener cleaning supplies, and purchase safe personal products. Remember, what we put on our bodies is just as important as what we put in, so read up on what the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is doing to protect the health of consumers like you and me.

Listen to Your Body—Nobody knows your body better than you. If you feel something is imbalanced, see your physician immediately and do not sweep any symptoms under the rug. Always bring a list of questions with you to your appointments and never feel bad about getting a second opinion. It isn’t personal—it’s your life!

By Fran Drescher

Photo courtesy of Cancer Schmancer

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