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The Top 10 Foods That Increase Cancer Risk

Written by Jane Donald on August 12th, 2013. Posted in magazine article

Diet can significantly impact the risk of cancer.

Photo Credit Doughnut image by Stana from
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. While cancer may be caused by a number of factors including heredity, environment, cigarette smoking, sun exposure and a lack of physical activity, research suggests that dietary factors play a significant role in cancer risk, especially for individuals with a strong family history of cancer. To help fight chronic diseases such as cancer, avoid these cancer-causing foods.


Sugar-sweetened beverages such as soft drinks and juices are loaded with refined sugar and have a high glycemic load relative to other foods and drinks. Sugar is the preferred source of energy for carcinogens in the body and may help promote tumor growth or formation. These beverages pose many health risks, not only because of their high sugar content but also because they contain unhealthy additives. In addition, individuals who drink two or more sweetened beverages per day are using sugar to replace essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients they need in their diet.


Fried foods such as French fries, potato chips and onion rings contain trans fats, which are unhealthy hydrogenated oils. Eating these foods regularly will raise your cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Additionally, these foods are fried at high temperatures. A byproduct of the deep-fat frying process is called acrylamide. Acrylamide is a carcinogen and neurotoxin, known to cause adverse effects throughout the body. You should avoid deep-fat-fried foods due to this potent cancer-causing agent.


Alcohol consumption is typically considered safe in moderation. However, if you drink in excess, you are putting yourself at risk for a number of different types of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, liver, breast, colon and esophagus. According to Newsmax Health, two or more drinks per day increased the risk of dying from breast cancer by 30 percent in postmenopausal women. This is because alcohol affects estrogen levels.


Charred foods, especially meats, cooked at high temperatures create carcinogens called heterocyclic aromatic amines. When organic plant or animal products are burned, causing them to become blackened, toxins are released and mutagenic byproducts are formed. The longer the meat is cooked at high temperature, the higher the production of these compounds will be. It is possible that burning of other foods, such as toast, creates this same effect.


Chips, crackers, cookies, cupcakes and other processed, packaged foods are generally unhealthy and should be avoided. These foods are made with white flour, salt, sugar and trans fat. Eating these snack foods will not only increase your risk of cancer but also cause weight gain and elevated cholesterol.


Hot dogs contain a carcinogen called nitratosamine or nitrates. Other cured or processed meats that contain this compound include lunch meats, bacon and sausage. Due to this cancer-causing agent, children should limit their consumption of hot dogs and women should avoid them when pregnant. Some hot dogs and other meat products are made without nitrates.


Doughnuts increase your risk of cancer in more than one way. First, doughnuts are made with white flour, sugar and hydrogenated oils. Then they are deep-fried at high temperatures. The high sugar content influences the body’s production of insulin, encouraging the growth and division of cancerous cells, especially in the pancreas. The combination of dense sugar and high-fat ingredients with the carcinogenic byproducts of deep-fat frying make doughnuts the worst possible food you can eat to raise your risk of cancer.


Heavily salted and pickled foods have been linked to higher rates of stomach cancer. Pickling is a method of preserving food for later use. Examples of pickled foods include meats, vegetables, fish and eggs. With refrigeration, pickling is no longer a necessity but a preference.


Fish farming is the process of raising food fish commercially in tanks or enclosures. Farmed fish usually contain high levels of toxins and carcinogens such as polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs. PCBs are a class of manmade chemicals once used as an insulating material in electrical equipment. While fish farming has been banned in the United States, other countries continue to farm fish. For this reason, you should always choose wild fish, as fish allowed to swim freely are usually free of this cancer-causing agent.


Newsmax Health states that individuals who consume meat on a regular basis, especially red meat, have three times the risk of developing colon cancer as those who occasionally eat meat. Additionally, people who eat diets high in saturated fat are almost twice as likely to have their cancer progress; these foods include hamburgers, high-fat cheeses and steaks.

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Written by Jane Donald on August 8th, 2013. Posted in magazine article

The phytochemicals in colorful vegetables have anti-cancer properties.

The battle with cancer can sometimes be a frustrating back-and-forth between two R words — remission and recurrence. In remission, you may try different “superfoods” touted for their cancer-protective properties. While no single food will ensure your well-being, a diet built on non-processed, nutrient-dense foods and healthy fats may give you a better chance of staying in remission for the long term. If you are taking medication, consult your doctor about cancer remission and diet, as some foods can interfere with the effectiveness of prescription drugs.


According to The Cancer Project, a research organization founded by Neal Bernard, M.D., cancer cells can occur even in the healthiest individuals. If your immune system is strong, your killer white blood cells scout out the culprits and eradicate them before they can wreak havoc. A weakened immune system, however, impairs the ability of your killer cells to defend against cancer. Factors that contribute to weakened immunity include stress, depression and bad diet. In an article published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” in 1997, researcher R.K. Chandra cited poor nutrition as “the most common cause of immunodeficiency worldwide.” Your goal in remission is to keep your immune system as strong as possible. Choose whole, fresh foods over processed for the best protection.


Phytochemicals, also called “phytonutrients,” are natural substances found in plants that protect them from disease while they are growing. When you consume plant foods, you take in these phytochemicals, which then work to guard your own cells against damage. In particular, phytochemicals seem to be natural cancer fighters that can boost your immune system and help prevent the recurrence of tumors. To get a full range of phytochemicals for your cancer remission diet, eat a rainbow of colorful fresh fruits and vegetables. Some plant foods that are particular high in anti-cancer phytochemicals are green tea, berries, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, garlic and onions, tomatoes, spices such as turmeric and carotenoid-containing yellow and orange vegetables.


Dr. Otto Warburg hypothesized back in the 1920s that glucose, or metabolized sugar, fueled the growth of cancer cells. Although many scientists rejected Warburg’s theories, recent research into various types of cancer have made connections between cancer growth and the overconsumption of high-glycemic foods — carbohydrates that cause sudden spikes in blood sugar. For example, a study of 2,569 women, published in the “Annals of Oncology” in 2001, concluded that intake of high-glycemic foods had a link to breast cancer risk. Similarly, a study of 38,000 subjects, published in the “Journal of the National Cancer Institute” in 2004, found that high-glycemic diets raised women’s risk of colorectal cancer. Foods that are low-glycemic and thus better for a cancer remission diet include fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and beans. Avoid simple sugars like breakfast cereals, sugary snacks and sodas and other processed foods, which are high glycemic.


Not all fats are bad for you. Some fats, like the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish like salmon, may actually help reduce tumor growth and fight metastasis, or the spread of cancer cells. In his book, “Anti-Cancer,” Dr. David Servan-Schreiber cites half a dozen human studies that found cancer risk reduced among those who ate fish a few times a week. Monounsaturated fats in olive oil may also have protective properties for colon, breast and prostate cancer. On the other hand, overconsumption of saturated animal fats, such as in red meat and dairy products, has links to breast cancer, according to The Cancer Project’s “Healthy Eating for Life.” It cites a 2003 study of 90,000 subjects at Harvard University that found women who ate the most animal fat had a higher risk of breast cancer than those who consumed few animal products.

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Written by Jane Donald on July 30th, 2013. Posted in magazine article

Personality, culture, and life experiences all influence how you cope with grief.
After someone has been diagnosed with cancer, current or anticipated losses such as control over daily living, health, and even life itself can contribute to grieving. Grief expert David Kessler describes five commonly recognized stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — as the framework for learning to live with loss. Keep in mind, though, that not everyone who’s grieving experiences all these stages or goes through them in a particular order.


Denial helps you survive news that’s too hard to handle. Overwhelmed by feelings of shock or numbness, you grasp only as much as you can accept at the moment. According to the Mayo Clinic, a short period of denial can be a healthy coping mechanism, but denial can also prevent you from effectively dealing with issues that require action, such as a health crisis or financial problems. As denial fades, you can begin to confront the feelings that were too painful to deal with initially.


Anger signals acceptance but distress with the cancer diagnosis. You’re entitled to feel angry in response to your pain and to express your concern, but don’t let anger get the best of you. Talking with family, friends, medical staff and other people with cancer is a healthy way to manage your feelings. So are exercising and expressing your painful thoughts in a journal.


Guilt can creep in during the bargaining stage of grief. According to Kessler, you can become lost in a maze of “If only…” statements, blaming yourself for failing to do something to stave off the cancer. Or, you might try bargaining to prevent future losses, such as changing your lifestyle or promising God to change certain behaviors in exchange for recovery.


Confronting cancer and the losses it entails understandably leads to great sadness. You may have trouble sleeping and concentrating, you may lack your usual energy, or you may find yourself crying unexpectedly. These are normal reactions, but will you ever climb out of your darkness? Speaking with a professional counselor or participating in a support group can help. When someone has multiple signs of depression every day for two weeks or longer, or symptoms are significant enough to interfere with everyday activities, The American Cancer Society recommends evaluation and possibly treatment by a qualified professional.


Acceptance isn’t about letting go of your grief. It means you’ve accepted that cancer is a part of your life—a new normal. You’ve stopped trying to regain what you’ve lost and are moving on to new experiences. Although you may still feel the pain associated with the cancer diagnosis, you’re accepting its reality and getting on with your life, for better or worse.

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Written by Jane Donald on July 29th, 2013. Posted in magazine article

Acupuncture may provide relief for certain chemotherapy-induced side effects.

Photo Credit akupunktur image by Jens Klingebiel from
The National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society report acupuncture may be effective in treating certain side effects associated with chemotherapy. Nearly all acupuncture studies have focused only on the management of symptoms associated with cancer and cancer-related treatments, and there is no evidence to suggest acupuncture can actually treat cancer. Patients are encouraged to seek conventional therapy for the treatment of cancer itself.


Acupuncture is just one facet of traditional Chinese medicine that first came to the United States in the 1970s. Since then, it has been gaining acceptance as a mode of complementary and/or alternative therapy for various types of pain, according to the National Institutes of Health. Practitioners attempt to restore the balance of health through the stimulation of specific points on the body. There are a variety of techniques designed to stimulate these points, however, the focus of most research is the technique involving needle penetration of the skin. The Food and Drug Administration has classified the acupuncture needle as a “medical device” and requires needles be sterile and disposable.

The National Cancer Institute reports acupuncture’s primary use in cancer treatment has been symptom management. The most commonly treated symptoms include cancer pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, weight loss, anxiety, depression, insomnia, poor appetite, constipation and diarrhea.


According to both the NCI and the American Cancer Society, the most convincing research findings regarding acupuncture’s use in the management of cancer-related symptoms are those investigating its effect on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. While pain relief is the most common clinical use of acupuncture, well-designed studies devoted to investigating acupuncture treatment for cancer pain are few.


Acupuncture treatment for chemotherapy-induced side effects typically involve weeks to months of regular treatment, correlated with the chemotherapy schedule. Depending on the severity of symptoms, an acupuncturist may recommend bi- to tri-weekly treatments until symptoms are more manageable. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports some insurance plans now provide acupuncture coverage.


Acupuncture is considered generally safe when performed by a licensed professional. While serious complications are rare, minor bruising can occasionally occur at the needle site and typically disappears within one to two weeks. There is no evidence to suggest acupuncture can treat cancer, which is why those having been recently diagnosed with cancer are encouraged to seek conventional therapy. Those interested in acupuncture for relief of chemotherapy side effects should visit the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine’s Certification Registry website (see Resources).

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Sleep and Cancer

Written by Jane Donald on July 28th, 2013. Posted in magazine article


Shirley's cancer doctor referred her to a sleep clinic where a study revealed the underlying problem - sleep apnea.Shirley’s cancer doctor referred her to a sleep clinic where a study revealed the underlying problem – sleep apnea.
A cancer diagnosis can keep patients awake at night. But in an ironic twist, the lack of sleep can throw a wet blanket on cancer treatment.When Shirley Moore was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, doctors said she needed surgery to treat it. Then, they found out she wasn’t strong enough for the procedure.

Shirley says, “one reason was because of the fact that we discovered that my heart was only functioning at a 35% rate.”

Dr. Dave Balachandran says, “she gave some symptoms of not only having, you know, a low heart function, but also being tired and fatigued during the day.”

So her cancer doctor referred her to a sleep clinic where a study revealed the underlying problem – sleep apnea.

Shirley says, “I mean I stopped breathing 26 times within an hour. My heart, my heart was under such stress.”

Shirley treated the breathing problem, improved her heart function and had the life-saving surgery.

Dr. Balachandran says, “when we identify a sleep disorder, often times we can treat that sleep disorder and really make an impact on their cancer-related fatigue.”

Dr. Balanchandran is a sleep expert at MD Anderson – the first cancer hospital in the country to have a sleep disorders clinic tailored for cancer patients.

Dr. Balachandran says, “patients want this. Patients with cancer, uh, studies have shown that up to 50 to 80% of them have sleep-related complaints.”

Breathing problems like sleep apnea are common. So are treatment-related movement disorders like restless leg syndrome.

Dr. Balachandran says, “when we tell them that it’s a side effect of their chemotherapy and there are treatments for this that actually improve them, they’re amazed. And they’ll come back to you after the therapy and say, I didn’t know I could feel this way.”

Beating cancer with sleep – it’s one more way to get patients on a well-rested road to recovery.

The sleep clinic will also be used to study cancer-related sleep problems.

Researchers hope to understand how sleep impacts cancer and its outcomes and how cancer treatments affect patients’ sleep.


Written by Jane Donald on July 25th, 2013. Posted in magazine article




Headed to a hoppin’ salad bar for lunch? Chances are there will be handfuls of fresh greens up for grabs, from romaine and iceberg to spinach and red leaf lettuce. But when it comes to choosing the healthiest salad base, which types of lettuce pack the biggest nutritional punch?

Photo by Jordan Shakeshaft


Sorry sandwich lovers, but a few shreds of lettuce on a bun won’t add up to the USDA’s dailyrecommended intake (2-3 cups for most adults). Instead, a big, healthy salad is one of the smartest ways to go green. Coming in at under 10 calories per cup, a big bowl of leaves can be a stellar source of vitamins A, C, K, and folate, among other essential nutrients.

But not all leafy greens will build a super-nutritious salad. In fact,America’s favorite lettuce, iceberg, ranks the lowest in nutritional value across the board (96 percent water content will do that!). Turbo-chargedspinach, on the other hand, boasts nearly twice the recommended daily value ofvitamin K, half the recommended value of vitamin A, and ample  amounts of calcium and iron. Clearly, Popeye was on to something.

Prefer a crunchier base? A cup of romaine is a tasty alternative, with a huge dose of vitamin A and a variety of other nutrients. Or, for a mild but textured bed, red leaflettuce clocks in at just 4 calories per cup, with nearly half of the daily recommended dose of vitamins A and K. Arugula (technically a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, kale, and cabbage) also packs a healthy dose of nutrients and phytochemicals, which may inhibit the development of certain cancers. And for the non-committal types,mixed greens (typically a mix of romaine, oak leaf lettuce, arugula, frisée, and radicchio) offer, well, a mixed bag of nutritional benefits, depending on the batch.


Which greens are the best bet? Check out the infographic below for the nutritional low-down.


How to Choose the Healthiest GreensGraphic by Laura Culhane



Consider visiting the salad bar a free pass to join the dark side. Research shows thatdarker “loose” or “open leaf” lettuces (such as romaine, red leaf, and butterhead) contain more antioxidants and nutrients than the typically lighter-colored, more tightly-packed heads (such as iceberg). The reason? The darker leaves are able to absorb more light and, in turn, synthesize more vitamins [1]. And while there’s no good way to pick and choose a store-bought salad leaf for leaf, at home, opting for the tops and outer leaves can guarantee a more nutritious base.

Ready to go darker (and healthier) still? While they’re not stocked at most salad bars, check the produce aisle for tougher roughage like Swiss chard and kale, which beat out even spinach in the antioxidant game. Be sure to give the leaves a good cold rinse before serving raw, boiled, or steamed, as the folds in these greens tend to accumulate dirt more easily than other veggies. Also keep in mind that high heat can strip veggies of their natural vitamin content [2]. The final key to becoming a lean, green fighting machine? Dress for success. Hold off on the creamy dressings, croutons, bacon bits, and layers of shredded cheese. Instead, opt for a lighter vinaigrette and a sprinkling of chopped walnuts or sunflower seeds for added crunch and protein.

Tea Time

Written by Jane Donald on July 24th, 2013. Posted in magazine article



Sipping tea just for its antioxidant punch is so last millennium. Here are some of the best, most unusual, and generally awesome uses for tea that don’t involve sipping.


Green tea has plenty of skin-protecting benefits — hence its use as a common ingredient in skin creams — but blacktea could be the answer to curing a nasty sunburn [1]. Gently applying chilled black tea to the affected area will help soothe the skin, and the tea’s tannins can help speed the body down its road to recovery. Cooled chamomile tea also has anti-inflammatory properties that can helptreat skin affected by sunburns and irritants like poison ivy [2]. For severe cases of skin irritation, though, it’s best to seek medical advice — and avoid these topical solutions altogether if the skin is broken or cracked.

Got a pesky mouth sore? Applying a used tea bag to the spot can help relieve the area and reduce inflammation by soaking up excess saliva. Biting down on the bag can also keep a wandering tongue from pestering the wound and causing further irritation (not to mention accidentally biting down on it… ouch).

For those who just can’t get enough tea by sipping, adding a few cups of brewed black tea to a marinade will help tenderize beef before cooking (thanks again those tannins!). The jury’s out on whether tea or coffee makes the better marinade, but that’s what experimenting is for, right?

And in case those fragrances building up at the gym are less than ideal, throw somedry tea bags in running shoes or a smelly bag when not in use. The tea bags will help absorb the musky scents while imparting some of their own — more pleasant — aroma.

Written by Jane Donald on June 5th, 2013. Posted in inspirational


Eat Wisely and Stay Active for a Healthy Colon

Written by admin on May 5th, 2013. Posted in magazine article

Ethnic_woman_eating_healthyThese 6 tips can help lower your risk of colorectal cancer and protect your overall health:

  • Get Moving According to the National Cancer Society, more than 50 scientific research studies found that physically active people have up to 40% less risk of colon cancer compared with sedentary people.The reason for the reduced risk, suggests the National Cancer Institute, is likely because physical activity lessens the amount of time potential carcinogens stay in the colon.In addition, activity boosts the immune system, which appears to have a significant role in fighting cancer1
    • For these reasons, Summit Medical Group recommends getting thirty to 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity such as brisk walking, hiking, jogging, running, cycling, and swimming every day
  • Eat Less Red and Processed Meats Red meat such as beef, lamb, pork, bacon, and deli meats contain nitrates, preservatives, and other compounds that can damage the lining of the intestinal tract and promote cancer. Eating red meat that has been grilled or fried at high temperatures also can expose you to cancer-causing compounds
    • For these reasons, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends limiting red meat to 18 or fewer ounces per week2
      • Substitute fresh sliced turkey and chicken for processed, cured, or salted lunch meats and sausages
      • Grill or broil fish or skinless chicken and turkey
      • Use ground white turkey instead of hamburger in casseroles
      • Enjoy a vegetarian meal at least once each week
      • Eat less red meat overall
  • Limit Alcohol to No More Than 2 Drinks Per Day for Men and 1 Drink Per Day for Women Alcohol can increase risk for mouth, throat, liver, breast, and colon cancer because bacteria in the colon and rectum convert the ethanol in alcohol into acetaldehyde, a chemical that causes cancer.3 Alcohol also reduces the body’s ability to absorb folate, a vitamin that helps protect against cancer4
    • One drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor
  • Eat More Fiber Whole grains such as wheat, oats, and barley contain soluble fiber that helps move food quickly through the digestive system, lessening the time potential carcinogens stay in the colon. In addition, whole grains also contain a wide variety of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that might help protect against cancer. A 2011 review of 25 research studies published in the British Medical Journal found that 3 or more three servings of whole grains each day can decrease risk of colorectal cancer by 20%5
    • Choose a breakfast cereal such as All Bran or Kashi 7 Whole Grain Nuggets that contain at least 5 grams of fiber per serving
    • Substitute whole grains such as brown rice and whole grain pasta for refined grains such as white rice and white pasta
    • Ensure the term whole in the first ingredient in breads and crackers
  • Eat Plenty of Vegetables and Fruits The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least 2 1/2 cups a day of varied vegetables and fruits to decrease risk of colorectal cancer6
    • Choose different colored vegetables and fruits such as red tomatoes, green peppers, yellow squash, purple eggplant, or white mushrooms to ensure variety
    • Eat cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower that contain colon-healthy substances7
    • Forage for fresh fruit or raw vegetables for a colon-healthy snack
    • Top your sandwiches with lettuce, sliced cucumbers, red peppers, tomatoes, and onions
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data suggest that being overweight and obese increases risk for colon cancer8


Protecting Yourself from Cancer

Written by Jane Donald on April 25th, 2013. Posted in magazine article

thCA9LPLXEPeople once thought that there was little that they could do to protect themselves against cancer. In recent years, however, scientists have taken a closer look at cancer. They’ve learned more about how the disease develops and about things that increase cancer risk. We now know that you can take steps to protect yourself against cancer. Your habits and behaviors can increase or decrease your risk of cancer. Lifestyle habits affect your health over many years. Here are some tips for protecting yourself from cancer:

  • Stop smoking. Cigarette and cigar smoking, chewing tobacco, and snuff cause cancer of the lung, throat, mouth, and esophagus. Also stay away from other people who are smoking. Passive smoking, or secondhand smoke, can cause lung cancer even when you don’t smoke yourself. Smoking is also a strong risk factor for bladder cancer. Smoking has also been linked to cancer of the cervix in women.
  • Try to limit the saturated fat in your diet. Eating too much saturated fat may increase the risk for colon, prostate, and breast cancer.
  • Eat 4 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. The antioxidants in these foods may help protect against cancer.
  • Be physically active.
  • Try to keep a healthy weight.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink to no more than 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men. Drinking too much alcohol is related to cancer of the nose, mouth, tongue, digestive tract, liver, and breast.
  • Avoid a lot of exposure to the sun. Melanoma is one of the skin cancers usually related to being out in the sun. Use sunscreen and a hat whenever you go out in the sun, regardless of the color of your skin.
  • When working with or around chemicals that can cause cancer, use protective gear such as gloves, protective clothing, and respirators. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when you use chemicals at home or in the yard.
  • Protect yourself from sexually transmitted viruses. Some sexually transmitted viruses, such as human papillomavirus (HPV), increase the risk of cervical and anal cancers. Be sure your partner does not have any sexually transmitted disease. Use a latex or polyurethane condom every time you have sex unless you are in a long-term relationship with the same partner and your partner has no other sexual partners.
  • Don’t use illegal drugs. They can expose you to hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and AIDS/HIV viruses. These viruses are related to cancer of the liver and other cancers.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if the HPV or hepatitis B shots are recommended for you.

If cancer is discovered early, treatment is much more successful. Have a medical checkup every year that includes cancer screening. Ask your healthcare provider for the cancer screening tests that are recommended for your age and family history. Be alert for signs of cancer between checkups.

Take small steps toward a healthy lifestyle. If you decide you need to make changes in the way you live, you probably won’t be able to turn your life around all at once. Set a goal and try to practice healthy habits that lead to the healthy lifestyle goal. If you do, you may lower your chances for cancer quite a bit.

To learn more about cancer, call the American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345 or the National Cancer Institute at 800-4-CANCER.

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