You may not know, but February is National Cancer Prevention Month. According to studies from American Institute of Cancer Research or AICR, the United States has the 7th highest cancer rate in the world. Wow, pretty staggering right? Studies also say that there’s about 1.7 million new cancer cases diagnosed in the US alone.

Many of these cases could have been easily prevented with changing life habits, getting annual follow-ups with your physician and get screened regularly.

So let’s kick off this National Cancer Prevention Month with a few highly specific tips on cancer prevention.

Smoking – Yes, we have probably heard the warning messages so many times that we know them by heart. But this is no joke! Extensive research has proved that tobacco use (smoking or chewing) is bad for your health. Tobacco use puts your entire body at risk, not just your lungs. Smoking or chewing tobacco in some cases has been linked to various forms for cancer such as: larynx cancer, mouth cancer, esophagus, throat, bladder, kidney, liver, colon and even might cause some types of leukemia. And if you’re not a smoker, be aware of secondhand smoke, because being exposed to tobacco smoke can also increase your risk to some forms of cancer. So use this National Cancer Prevention Month as an opportunity to flush your cigarette packs down the toilet, throw away your chewing tobacco and say ‘NO’ to this vice.

Drinking – Various doctors will recommend a glass of wine per day to keep your hearth in good health. But, with almost everything we consume these days, the important thing is not to overdo it. Excessive alcohol consumption can possibly lead to cancer of your mouth, throat, colon liver and breast. And here is why! As you know, our body has a ‘self-repair’ mechanism in which the body can repair its own damaged DNA. Chemicals found in alcohol can hinder the body’s natural ‘repair’ system. Damaged and unrepaired DNA causes the cells in our body to mutate, reproduce at an alarming state which in the end leads to the formation on cancerous tumors.

Well-balanced diet – As with alcohol, the key is being moderate about what you eat and how much you eat. Obesity is a major issue in the US and it’s affecting approximately 38% of the adult population. This is alarming information even more so since obesity increases your risk to various types of cancer. And not to mention the other health-related issues caused by obesity. So combining a well-balanced diet with regular exercise should minimize the risk of obesity, cancer and other health issues.

Screening – Even though there is no universal cure for cancer (yet) that doesn’t mean that we can’t turn to medicine for help! With regular screening and check-ups with your doctor, you can do MUCH for this National Cancer Prevention Month.

Did you know that colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.? Regular screening with a colonoscopy can dramatically minimize the number of patients that develop this type of cancer. During a colonoscopy, if the specialists notices some precancerous polyps in your colon, they can easily remove them. This means that they (the polyps) don’t get to become cancerous.

An interesting fact is that regular colonoscopy screenings could reduce the formation of colorectal cancer by 60% and thus, 60% of cancer related deaths would be avoided! Also Pap test screening (used for detection of cervical cancer) can diagnose over 13,000 cases of cervical cancer. But if ‘caught’ on time, treatment and outcomes of precancerous abnormalities are a way better option than treating cancer.

Take the necessary steps this National Cancer Prevention Month in order to make sure that you are in good health. After all, it all comes down to: how much do we value ourselves and our own health!