At Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville, we’re dedicated to providing you with the information, resources and screenings you need to help manage and lower your risk of developing cancer. Lowering your risk may be as easy as making small lifestyle changes.
Consuming alcohol is a known cause of certain types of cancer:
- Colon and rectum
- Esophagus, mouth, throat and voice box
Why does consuming alcohol increase the risk of cancer?
One reason may be that alcohol can damage the body’s tissues, causing the cells to try to repair the damage. When they do, the repair process could cause DNA changes that may lead toward cancer. Consuming alcohol can also contribute to weight gain, affect levels of hormones in the body and inhibit the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, such as folate, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Lowering Your Risk
We recommend that men have no more than two servings of alcohol per day. Women, whose bodies are typically smaller and take longer to break down alcohol, should have no more than one.
According to the National Institutes of Health, a serving of alcohol might be:
- A five-ounce glass of wine
- A 12-ounce bottle of beer
- A 1.5-ounce shot of spirits (bourbon, gin, rum, vodka, etc.)
While tobacco use is frequently associated with lung cancer, it can also increase the risk of other cancer types. Those cancer types are:
- Bladder, kidney, pancreas and stomach
- Cervix, ovaries and uterus
- Colon and rectum
- Esophagus, lips, mouth, nose, sinuses, throat and voice box
Lowering Your Risk
The easiest and best way to lower your tobacco-related cancer risk is to never start using tobacco products. But if you already have, your lung tissue can repair itself, if you stop using tobacco products before cancer develops, according to the National Cancer Institute.
But kicking a tobacco habit can be hard, since many tobacco products contain addictive nicotine. If you’re trying to quit, Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville’s tobacco cessation classes may be helpful. Our Beat the Pack program provides resources that can help make quitting easier.
Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville Beat the Pack
- 5-week smoking cessation program
- 30-minute sessions
- Encourages peer support
- Provides information for self-help support
- Medication therapy education provided by a pharmacist
- Provided for free at Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville facilities
Diet and Exercise
According to the American Cancer Society, one third of all yearly U.S. cancer deaths are related to diet and exercise. That has to do with the excess body weight that can result from an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle. Extra pounds may be linked to as much as a fifth of all cancer-related deaths in the U.S. and may increase your risk of developing the following types of cancer:
- Breast cancer (post-menopause)
- Colorectal cancer
- Gynecologic cancers, such as that of the cervix, endometrium (uterus lining) or ovary
- Prostate cancer
- Other cancers, such as that of the esophagus, kidney, gallbladder or pancreas
That’s a big problem, since nearly 34 percent of American adults are obese. Kentucky ranks among the top 5 most obese states.
Lowering Your Risk
To lessen your diet and physical activity-related risk of developing cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends making the following lifestyle changes:
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Get active. Adults should get 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (preferably spread out) per week. Kids and teens should get at least one hour of exercise per day, with vigorous exercise at least three days a week. Avoid sedentary activities.
- Eat a healthy, plant-focused diet. This includes limiting your intake of red and processed meat, and eating whole grains, fruits and veggies.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink.
At our fitness centers, you can use exercise equipment, break a sweat in our group and specialty fitness classes, and learn more about nutrition.
We also offer weight loss and bariatric surgery programs, including advanced, minimally invasive laparoscopic and bariatric options, in addition to classes, exercise coaching, nutritional counseling and other services in a program we’ll tailor just for you.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer type, and most cases, including basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma, are directly caused by the ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight, according to the American Cancer Society.
Certain behaviors may increase your risk, including having had previous sunburns, spending a lot of time in the sun for recreation or living in a high-sun area.
UV radiation, a form of electromagnetic radiation, has more energy than visible light and can damage the DNA in your cells, potentially leading to cancer in the skin. The sun is the biggest source of UV radiation, but there are several manmade sources of UV rays, including tanning beds. Your risk of melanoma is 75 percent higher if you started using tanning beds before age 35, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Lowering Your Risk
Avoid excess UV exposure. You can do this by:
- Staying in the shade, when possible, on sunny days, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Covering exposed skin from the sun and wearing a hat and sunglasses
- Using sunscreen to protect from the sun. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a broad spectrum (UVA/IVB) sunscreen with SPF of 15 or higher. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen with and SPF of 30 or higher.
- Do not burn
- Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of 6 months
- Avoiding sunlamps or tanning beds
- Examine your skin monthly
- Have a professional skin exam done yearly by your physician
Skin cancer’s appearance can be different depending on factors such as the stage, type and location. But you should look for scaly or rough patches of skin, oozing, bleeding, sores that don’t heal and other changes, such as new spots or growths, or moles that change size or color.
If you spot any of these signs during a skin cancer self-check, report them to your doctor, who may want to perform additional screening and diagnostic procedures.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly one fifth of all cancers are related to the environment or workplace carcinogens – a substance or exposure that causes cancer. They result in 1.3 million deaths per year, worldwide.
Some of the most common workplace exposure-related cancers are bladder cancer and lung cancer. One tenth of all lung cancer deaths may be caused by exposure to cancer causing materials, including asbestos, in the work environment.
It’s possible to lower the risk of workplace exposure-related cancers by removing carcinogenic materials from the work environment. These include asbestos, silica, radon, arsenic in water and other materials, according to the WHO.
Other cancer-causing exposures include the UV radiation in sunlight and water, soil and air pollution. One type of air pollution is radon, a radioactive gas that occurs naturally from the break down of uranium in soil, rock, and water. Kentucky is rated by the EPA as a Zone 1 state, meaning it has the highest potential for radon exposure.
Lowering Your Risk
To avoid cancers due to air pollution, watch for air quality alerts, keep your home well-ventilated and only smoke outside, away from doors and windows. In addition, test your home, office, and schools for radon to determine your exposure risk. If your radon level is above 4 pCi/L, contact a certified radon mitigation professional.
If you’re a business owner or manager and would like more information on making work safer for your employees, please contact Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville Occupational Medicine. We provide a variety of health services, immunizations and education programs to help your employees stay healthy.
Genetic counseling may be right for you, if you have:
- A personal or family history of cancer, including breast, colon or certain gynecologic cancers
- Multiple relatives on the same side with the same or related cancers, or a personal history of related cancers
- A personal or family history of multiple primary cancers in one individual
- Jewish ancestry and a personal or family history of any of the cancers already mentioned
- A personal or family history of male breast cancer
- An increased risk for hereditary cancer syndrome, as indicated by an IHC screening for colon or uterine tumors
- A known genetic condition in the family (Lynch syndrome, BRCA, etc.)
What happens during a genetic counseling appointment?
During your appointment, a genetic counselor will review your family and personal medical history. The counselor will then discuss screening and management recommendations for your cancer risk.
Our Genetic Counselors
Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville's genetic counselors have specialized training in genetics and genetic conditions and have two years of graduate study in medical genetics. They’re also board-certified, or in the process of getting board-certified.