Not all cases of mouth, throat or thyroid cancer can be prevented, but the risk of developing cancer can be greatly reduced by avoiding certain risk factors. By adopting better habits, you can help yourself by noticing unusual changes to your body.
Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Prevention & Risk Factors
Limit Smoking & Drinking
At this point in time, it goes without saying that these two activities contribute the most to putting yourself at risk for cancer. Quitting tobacco (even after many years of use) can dramatically reduce your risk of developing cancers of the oral cavity or head and neck. That also goes for heavy drinking.
In recent years, vaccines have become available that can prevent the onset and spread of the Human Papilloma Virus. Studies have been conducted that show a significant link between taking the HPV vaccine and a drop in cervical cancers in women and oral cancers in both sexes.
Prevention by Eating Healthy
Adding vitamin supplements to an unhealthy diet doesn’t cut it. The American Cancer Society recommends a healthy diet that emphasizes plant foods, which means consuming at least 24 ounces daily of vegetables and fruits. Choose whole-grains instead of refined (or bleached) grains, and eat fish, poultry or beans instead of red meat to help lower your cancer risk.
Limit Exposure to UV Light
When outside for prolonged periods of time, use a moisturizer with SPF 15 or greater. You can even find chapstick with protection from UV light. Both of these are available at any drugstore.
Treat Pre-cancerous Growths
If you notice something—a strange growth, an unusual pain that persists, bleeding that’s not related to trauma—don’t ignore it. Bring it to the attention of your doctor as soon as you can.
Thyroid Cancer Prevention & Risk Factors
Prevention can be difficult for thyroid cancer, because most people with thyroid cancer have no known risk factors.
The best method for prevention is paying attention to your body. For instance, you can palpate (or feel) your neck for unusual lumps. If you find something, don’t be afraid to bring it up to your doctor.
Gender and Age
Women are 3 times as likely to have thyroid cancer than men. The risk peaks in a woman’s 40s and 50s and in a man’s 60s and 70s.
There is some link to family history, but most people who develop thyroid cancer do not have an inherited condition of the disease.
A Diet Low in Iodine
Follicular thyroid cancers are more prevalent in regions where people have a diet deficient in iodine.
Exposure to radiation is a recognized risk factor for thyroid cancer. Exposure to radiation can come from certain medical treatments, fallout from nuclear power plants or weapons testing.
Asking your doctor the right questions throughout your cancer journey is essential for staying well informed and empowered.