New Jersey Environmental Public Health Tracking Program

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Cancers and Human Health

What is Cancer?

Cancer is a group of over 100 different diseases with different causes and risk factors.  The lifetime probability of developing cancer among men is 1 in 2.  For women, the lifetime probability is 1 in 3.  In general, most cancers are related to a combination of factors including heredity, family or personal health history, reproductive patterns and life-style factors such as smoking, diet, exercise, alcohol consumption and exposure to sunlight and certain infections.

Where can you get more information if you are concerned about cancer?

Click here for more information about cancer screening, research, treatment and support.

What can a person do to prevent cancer?

There's no certain way to prevent cancer. But doctors have identified suggestions for reducing your cancer risk, such as:

  • Stop smoking. If you smoke, quit. If you don't smoke, don't start.  Smoking is linked to several types of cancer — not just lung cancer. Quitting now will reduce your risk of cancer in the future.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure. Harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can increase your risk of skin cancer. Limit your sun exposure by staying in the shade, wearing protective clothing or applying sunscreen.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Select whole grains and lean proteins.
  • Exercise most days of the week. Regular exercise is linked to a lower risk of cancer. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. If you haven't been exercising regularly, start out slowly and work your way up to 30 minutes or longer.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese may increase your risk of cancer. Work to achieve and maintain a healthy weight through a combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise.
  • Schedule cancer screening exams. Talk to your doctor about what types of cancer screening exams are best for you based on your risk factors.
  • Ask your doctor about immunizations. Certain viruses increase your risk of cancer. Immunizations may help prevent those viruses, including hepatitis B, which increases the risk of liver cancer, and human papillomavirus (HPV), which increases the risk of cervical cancer and other cancers. Ask your doctor whether immunization against these viruses is appropriate for you.

Return to main EPHT Cancer Page

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