This February we celebrate American Heart Month and Cancer Prevention Month. It is a dual opportunity to raise awareness and support millions of people and families affected by two of the most common and deadly diseases in the United States.
Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S., amounting to an astounding one-in-four American deaths every year? Similarly, one-in-four Americans will develop cancer at some point in their lives. A positive diagnosis for either disease can be physically and emotionally devastating, or worse. Needless to say, the month-long February awareness campaigns are tremendously important to educate the public and support those who have survived or may be suffering.
There is another reason to participate in the annual health initiatives, and that is prevention. Did you know that heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions? In addition, were you aware that around 40 percent of cancer cases are preventable? That means roughly 694,000 cases of cancer could be prevented every year simply by reducing exposure to controllable risk factors.
Below are just a few tips about how to reduce heart disease and cancer risks this American Heart Month and Cancer Prevention Month:
- Do not smoke. Not smoking and avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke, as well as all forms of tobacco, is a critical controllable safety measure.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Keep your weight within a healthy range and try to avoid excessive weight gain, especially as you age.
- Get rid of junk food. Limit consumption of “fast foods” and other processed foods that are high in fat, starches or sugar. Limiting these foods can help control calorie intake and reduce harmful levels of cholesterol.
4. Eat a healthy diet. When you can, build your diet around plant foods, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. These foods contain fiber and other vital nutrients that can reduce dangerous risks of both heart disease and cancer.
- Limit consumption of red and processed meat. You do not have to eliminate meat from your diet, but it is important to eat no more than moderate amounts of red meat, such as beef, pork and lamb. Try to avoid all processed meats if possible.
- Consult a doctor. Check with your personal physician or a healthcare professional about your current risk levels and follow healthy recommendations.
If you or someone you know would like more information about American Heart Month and Cancer Prevention Month, do not put off learning more. The more you can protect yourself and your loved ones, the better.