Cancer is the second major cause of death in the United States. More than half a million of us to die of cancer every year. Most cancers occur in people age 55 and over. The best defense for many types of cancer is early detection therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, have regular checkups with your doctor and report any unusual symptoms.

Cancer is the result of changes in the genes that control cell growth. In a healthy cell, the genes will tell it when to stop reproducing, to mend any damage or to destroy itself if the damage cannot be repaired. However, a damaged cell will override these messages and continue to reproduce more damaged cells.

While we cannot control all of our risks for cancer, there are some things we can do that will help to lower our chances of getting some of the more common types of cancer.

Skin cancer

The most common type of cancer is skin cancer and the two most common types of skin cancer are squamous cell cancer and basal cell cancer. Squamous cell cancer can spread throughout the body while basal cell cancer usually does not. Both types of skin cancer typically start on the parts of the body that are mostly exposed to the sun such as the face, hands or arms.

Risk factors for developing skin cancer include being fair skinned, a history of spending great amounts of time in the sun, getting many sunburns as a child, and having light-colored hair and green or blue eyes.

Sun protection is the primary way to avoid skin cancer. Always use plenty of sunscreen and reapply it every two hours and after sweating or swimming.
Also avoid tanning beds and sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is the primary cause of cancer death in the United States. Every year or it kills more people than any other type of cancer. When lung cancer begins, there may be no symptoms at all. It can take years for the cancer to progress before any problems are noticed.

Risk factors for developing lung cancer include smoking and being exposed to secondhand smoke, family history and exposure to radon gas.

The best way to prevent lung cancer is to either stop smoking, avoid secondhand smoke and check the radon levels in your house.

Colon cancer

Colon cancer is the second major cause of cancer death in the United States. A major risk factor in developing colon cancer is family history. If there are many people in your family who have developed colon cancer you will probably require regular colonoscopies. The risk of developing colon cancer increases with age. Most people who are diagnosed are over age 50. Other risk factors include a diet that is high in fat and low in fiber, folic acid and calcium.

The primary way to prevent colon cancer is a colonoscopy. If you do not have a family history of colon cancer your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy when you turn 50. If there is a strong family history of colon cancer, your doctor may recommend one sooner.

Family history and environmental factors effects whether or not a person will develop cancer. Although we cannot control the genes that we inherit, it is important to know what environmental factors affect our cancer risks and take steps to change those things so that we can live healthy and cancer-free lives.