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Cancer: Exercise, eat veggies, don't smoke

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To reduce your risk of dying from cancer, don't smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke. Cigarette smoking causes at least 30% of all cancer deaths and contributes to tumors of the lungs, larynx, mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, pancreas, liver, cervix, kidney, stomach, colon and rectum, and to some leukemias. About half of all smokers -- who also face an increased risk of heart disease -- will die from the habit.

Other steps you should take:

*Exercise. Adults should exercise moderately at least 30 minutes a day on five or more days a week. To reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer, they should exercise even more. Kids should be active at least one hour a day.

*Control weight. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of cancers of the colon, endometrium, esophagus and kidney, as well as post-menopausal breast cancer.

*Strive for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Doctors still aren't sure exactly how plant foods interact to reduce the risk of cancer. But studies show that people who eat lots of fruits and vegetables have lower rates of cancers of the lung, mouth, esophagus, stomach and colon.

*Reduce fat. High-fat diets are associated with cancers of the colon and prostate. Low-fat diets might protect against post-menopausal breast cancer, according to research presented in May at the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

*Stay out of the sun and avoid tanning beds. Limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when sunlight is most intense. Wear hats that shade the face, neck and ears and cover the rest of the body with light clothes. Wear sunglasses and use sun block with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Severe sunburns in childhood greatly increase the risk of melanoma later in life, so protect youngsters from the sun.

*Limit alcohol. Heavy drinking increases the risk of liver and oral cancers.

Source: The American Cancer Society

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© Copyright 2004 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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