Avoiding tobacco products and alcohol, being physically active, avoiding overweight
or obesity, avoiding red and processed meats, and consuming a whole-food
plant-based diet can reduce the risk of contracting many cancers. Listed below are
other preventive measures specific to particular cancers.

Breast cancer
Don’t smoke; avoid weight gain, overweight and obesity; don’t drink alcohol, one
drink a day can increase risk by 7% and two to five drinks a day by 40%; be physically
active; eat a whole food plant-based diet that minimizes saturated fat, red and
processed meat; avoid prolonged use of hormone therapy at menopause and exposure
of the breasts to radiation, especially at a young age. Get screened for breast
cancer according to guidelines for age, medical, and family history.

Among women at heightened risk for breast cancer, the U.S. Preventive Services
Task Force recommends consideration of drugs that have been shown to reduce
the risk of breast cancer: tamoxifen, raloxifene, and the three aromatase inhibitors,
anastrozole, exemestane and letrozole.140 141 For most women, the absolute risk
reduction is quite modest. For a woman with an estimated five-year risk of breast
cancer of 1.66% or more, about average-risk for a 60-year-old woman, a 50% risk
reduction over five years would correspond to an absolute risk reduction of 0.83%
and treating 120 women for five years would prevent one case of breast cancer. A
2020 JAMA review of the use of drugs to reduce breast cancer risk recommended
their use by women with a five year breast cancer risk of 3% or greater because of
an absolute risk reduction of about 7 to 9 fewer invasive breast cancers for every
1000 women treated over five years. The study authors noted that tamoxifen is
the only medication that has been studied and approved for use in premenopausal
women and that for postmenopausal women, tamoxifen or raloxifene are the first line
options. Raloxifene is associated with lower rates of significant harms, but
tamoxifen has stronger evidence of long-term benefit.

Tamoxifen, raloxifene, and aromatase inhibitors do not bring about much reduction
in breast cancer mortality or overall mortality, likely because they reduce the risk of
the more treatable cancers. The benefits of risk-reducing medications must be balanced
against their harms, including venous thromboembolism for women taking
tamoxifen and raloxifene. Use of the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium Risk
Calculator can help identify women who might benefit from the long-term use of
these medications.

Cervical cancer
To reduce the risk of cervical cancer, get vaccinated against human papillomaviruses
(HPVs) before becoming sexually active, use condoms to avoid unprotected
sex, and follow the American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines for regular cervical
cytology screening.

Colorectal cancer
To reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, avoid red meat and processed meat intake
and consume high levels of fiber. One estimate is that with a healthy lifestyle and
diet (avoiding obesity, physical inactivity, alcohol consumption, early adulthood
cigarette smoking, and red meat consumption), as much as 70% of colon cancer can
be avoided.144 Follow the ACS guidelines for regular colorectal screening, especially
if a family history is present or if polyps have been detected previously. Aspirin
has been found to decrease the risk of colon cancer; one estimate is that regular
long-term (at least five years) use of aspirin reduces the risk of all gastrointestinal
cancers by 8% to 15%.145 146 147 However, the regular use of aspirin is associated with an increased risk of serious adverse events, including a 37% increase in the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and a 38% increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke.

This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel.