Back to Blog

New Year's Resolution: Preventing Cancer

Published on Feb. 03, 2021

It’s a new year! And now’s the time many of us begin working toward healthy lifestyle goals. Eating better, exercising, and practicing good mental health have a variety of benefits – including reducing your cancer risk.

Many cancers are linked to lifestyle. So it makes perfect sense that any healthy lifestyle choices you make can lower your risk for cancer and other diseases. And obviously, adopting a healthier lifestyle can help you feel better, too! 

So here are some tips for New Year’s lifestyle goals that can help lower your risk of developing cancer: 


Stop Smoking

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about aids for quitting. This can include nicotine patches and some prescription medicines. 

  • Get help from others who have successfully stopped smoking 

  • Create a plan for quitting.

  • Pick a quit date and stick to it.

Munson Healthcare offers tobacco cessation classes and programs in locations across northern Michigan and can help connect you to other community-based resources.

Find a Class

Stay at a Healthy Weight

  • Ask your family doctor for help if you need to lose weight. Losing even a little weight is good for you.

  • Any number of weight loss and food tracking mobile apps are available on the Apple App store and Google Play store may assist you.

  • Once you're at a healthy weight, take steps to maintain it such as following the activity and diet tips below.


Keep Active

  • Get regular physical activity.

  • Take walks, garden, or do other activities you enjoy each day.

  • Run errands on foot or bike, not by car.

  • Join a walking or biking club.

  • Limit the time you spend sitting to do things. This includes watching TV, playing video games, or using a computer.


Eat a Healthy Diet

  • Eat fewer red meats and processed meats.

  • Eat at least 2.5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily, especially leafy greens.

  • Eat more whole grains instead of refined grain foods.

  • Limit alcohol to two drinks a day if you're a man and one drink a day if you're a woman.

  • Limit high-calorie foods and drinks.

  • Read food labels to be more aware of calories and portion sizes.

Munson Healthcare’s nutrition counseling services or Cowell Family Cancer Center’s Clinical Oncology Dietician can help provide guidance and tips to help you choose healthier options.

Learn to Eat Well

Protect Yourself From Sun and Household Hazards

  • When outside during the day, use sunscreen that has a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or greater.

  • When out in sunlight, wear a hat and sunglasses.

  • Seek shade in the middle of the day when the sun is strongest.

  • Be aware of all hazardous products at work or in your home.

  • When working with hazardous products, wear protective clothing


Maintain Your Scheduled Cancer Screenings

Regular screening can help prevent some types of cancer, including cervical and colorectal cancer. Screenings can find abnormal cells so they can be removed before becoming cancer. For some other types of cancer, screenings may help find evidence of the disease early. This is when treatment is likely most effective.

“This new year brings new hope more than in years past," said Yelena Kier, DO, Munson Healthcare oncologist at Cowell Family Cancer Center in Traverse City. “I hope this year continues new advancements in therapy for treatment of our patients. I also hope our community stays the course with their screenings and preventive measures, even during a pandemic.”

Here are some ways you can work with your family doctor to screen for cancers:

  • Mammograms are the best way to test for breast cancer.

  • Pap tests can find abnormal cells in the cervix which may turn into cervical cancer. The HPV (human papillomavirus) test looks for the virus that can cause these cells to change.

  • Colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps, so they can be removed.

  • The United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends yearly lung cancer screening for people who have a history of heavy smoking, and smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years, and are between 55 and 80 years old.

  • A PSA blood test with or without a digital rectal exam will screen for prostate cancer. Most prostate cancers grow slowly, although some can grow and spread quickly.

  • Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer. It’s important to understand what type of skin cancer you may have as this affects both your treatment options and your prognosis.

Now’s the time to take charge of your health. Make sure to speak with your family doctor about your family history and your cancer risk. Together, you can decide on the lifestyle changes and cancer screening plans that work best for you.