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Cancer Risk: It's a Guy Thing 2001-03-01
Cancer Risk: It's a Guy Thing
May 7, 2001 -- Sad to say, but you probably know someone with cancer.
Yes, rates of many cancers are increasing alarmingly in North America and, no, doctors have not identified all the factors that play a part in getting it. We do know that genes play a significant role -- something you can't do anything about -- but we also know that lifestyle is a major player, and there is a lot you can do about that.
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is dedicated to informing the public about the risks of cancer and providing them with the latest scientific findings. That's why at their annual meeting -- held this past March in New Orleans -- they opened up the conference to the public and addressed many of the issues that concern us all. One of those was preventing cancer.
Here's what the AACR experts had to say about the best ways to minimize your cancer risk. The information here is specifically geared toward men -- although, of course, much of it applies to women, too. (Check out "Cancer Risk: It's a Girl Thing", on the Healthy Women channel)
Know Thy Enemy
Cancer is an imbalance between cell growth and cell death, explains Donald S. Coffey, MD, resulting in the accumulation of large numbers of cells.
"When cells pile up, it's called a tumor," he says. "They can pile up like a fist or a tangerine, which can be taken out, and that's benign. Most of what's seen in breast and prostate tumors are benign tumors.
"The other kind looks like your open hand," he says -- although historically this more dangerous, malignant cancer was compared to the spread-out crab-shaped stars in the constellation Cancer.
"The word for the zodiac was here before the disease, and that's why it's called cancer," says Coffey, professor of oncology, pathology, urology, and pharmacology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. Coffey was involved in organizing the AACR public forum and gave a talk on the definition of cancer.
Don't Smoke. Don't Smoke. Don't Smoke.
"Don't smoke," says Anna D. Barker, PhD, president and CEO of Bio-Nova Inc., and a member of AACR's board of directors.
Simply by heeding that straightforward bit of advice, you can avoid 35% of all cancers, says Barker, who was a moderator and organizer at the public forum.
There's no good reason to become part of the statistics: If you haven't started smoking, don't -- and if you have, it's time to butt out!
Shun the Sun.
The era of bathing beauties is over. Rather than thinking of a deep tan as something that makes you look healthy and vibrant, think of it as a dermatologist does: as your body's reaction to damage, like a scab forming on a cut.