beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

  • Contact BIDMC
  • Maps & Directions
  • Other Locations
  • Careers at BIDMC
  • Smaller Larger

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

Smaller Larger

Reducing Cancer Risk

Posted 10/16/2014

Posted in

  Although it may seem a bit like the proverbial shutting the barn door after the horse has escaped, I suspect that we are all interested in cancer risk reduction. Just because we have had one cancer does not mean that we are magically protected against a second; we are concerned about those whom we love, and common sense suggests that strategies that reduce cancer risk might (note: no evidence for this) reduce recurrence risk, too.

  Remember that there are absolutely no magic bullets here. There is nothing that you can do or not do, eat or not eat, drink or not drink that will guarantee a cancer-free life. I am well aware that the popular press is full of articles or books that suggest otherwise (there is even a book called The Cancer Prevention Diet), but nothing has been (or probably ever will  be) proven in this regard. Sadly.

  This is an introduction to a nice Medscape article regarding a recent release from the European Code against Cancer. Most of us are interested and pretty motivated to do whatever we can to help ourselves, so these are good reminders. I give you the start and a link to read more:

'What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk for Cancer?'

The new European Code Against Cancer, launched today, outlines 12 things that individuals can do to reduce their risk for cancer. Top of the list is tobacco, followed by healthy body weight, avoiding too much sun and alcohol, but there are also several new recommendations — about radon, breast-feeding, and hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and also about vaccinations and organized
screening programs.
The code was drawn up by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, with the participation of the European Commission.
There is a bit of overlap with the World Cancer Report 2014 from the IACR, which came out earlier this year and heavily emphasized prevention strategies, but the aims of the two are quite different, commented Joachim Schüz PhD, head of the section of environment and radiation at the IACR in Lyon, France. The report is a summary of the scientific evidence, while the code is in everyday language and is aimed at individuals, giving guidance on "what I can do to reduce my cancer risk."
This latest (fourth) version updates the last version of the code issued in 2003.
There are several new points in the code because the science of prevention is a dynamic and we now have a better understanding of some of the risk factors, Dr. Schüz commented in an interview.
New in this version of the code is the advice on checking and taking action on high levels of naturally occurring radon in homes (which has been associated with an increased risk for lung cancer) and the avoidance of sunbeds and tanning equipment (to avoid skin
cancer). Also new is the advice to women that breast-feeding reduces the mother's cancer risk, and so should be encouraged, and that HRT increases the risk for certain cancers (breast, endometrial, and ovarian), and so should be limited. "The scientific evidence is there now to support these recommendations," he said.


Add your comment