National Cancer Prevention Month

This post is an excerpt of NM Department of Health’s news release from February 6, 2024 titled, Healthy habits, routine screenings essential for cancer prevention.

Cancer is one of New Mexico’s leading causes of death – responsible for one in five deaths in the state every year.  

This National Cancer Prevention Month, the New Mexico Department of Health’s Comprehensive Cancer Program wants you to know how much can be done to cut risks of death by what we do and don’t do to live healthy and screen for cancers at the right times in our lives. 

There are lots of kinds of cancer. Some – such as breast, lung, and cervical cancers – can be screened for, but everyone can reduce their risk of getting cancer with these the tips: 

  • Maintain a healthy weight. This reduces the risk of cancers of the breast, colon, kidney, esophagus and lining of the uterus.  
  • Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Physically active people have lower rates of colon cancer and sometimes breast cancer.  
  • Do not use nicotine. Using commercial tobacco products (cigarettes, pipes, cigars and chewing tobacco) is linked to cancers in the mouth, throat, larynx, lungs, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, cervix and more.  
  • Eat a healthy diet. Eating healthy reduces risks of developing prostate, breast, lung, colon, rectum, stomach and pancreatic cancers.  
  • Drink less alcohol. The less alcohol, the lower the chances of breast, colon, rectum, mouth, throat and esophagus cancers.  
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Sun exposure is linked to skin cancer. Wear sunscreen, hats and long-sleeve shirts to protect your skin and avoid getting sunburned.  
  • Get vaccinated for infections that can cause cancer. Talk to your doctor about you and your children getting vaccinated for the human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B virus. They both increase risks for cancer.  

Screenings for some of the most common cancers are recommended over our lives, especially if others in the family have been diagnosed with cancers. 

  • Ages 50-74 – Breast Cancer: Try to get tested every two years. The test for breast cancer is a mammogram, where an X-ray is taken of your breasts. If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor about getting tested more often. 
  • Ages 21-65 – Cervical Cancer: The cervix is a part of the uterus, which is also called the womb. Adults 21-65 years old should be screened for cervical cancer. Talk with your doctor about getting the right test for you. 
  • Ages 45-75 – Colorectal Cancer: Adults in this age group should get tested for colorectal cancer regularly. Talk to a doctor about which type of test is best for you and how often you should be tested. 
  • Ages 50-80 – Lung Cancer: Adults 50-80 years old who smoke 20 packs of cigarettes a year OR have quit in the last 15 years should get tested for lung cancer. Talk to your doctor about your risk, even if you have not smoked. 
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