Updated 14 December 2016

10 ways to prevent cancer

The prevention of cancer starts with making smart lifestyle choices. Here are 10 tips from the Cancer Association of South Africa.

Cancer can be prevented and treated more effectively if diagnosed early (more than 30% of cancers can be prevented) which is why it is vital to be aware of risk factors and ways to reduce the cancer risk.

The prevention of cancer all starts with making smart lifestyle choices.

Here are 10 tips, courtesy of the Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa):

 - The conditions in which people live and work, as well lifestyles, influence their health and quality of life, which is why it is important to lead a balanced lifestyle whether at work or at home.

- Organisations of all sizes can create environments that protect and promote the health of their employees, by providing: 100% tobacco and smoke-free environments; provision of and access to healthy food options; workplace health education programmes; and policies that create awareness of cancer risk factors and the importance of early detection.

 - Physical activity helps to maintain a healthy weight that will assist in lowering the risk for various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney. So get active and maintain a healthy weight.

 - Healthy choices at the grocery store and at mealtimes will help reduce the risk for cancer, so be sure to eat a healthy diet.

 - Skin cancer is the most common cancer caused by the harmful UV rays of the sun, but is also a cancer that is most preventable. Whenever you are out in the sun or exposed to harmful UV rays in any form, be sure to protect your skin.

 - Avoid tobacco products and do not expose yourself to second-hand smoke. Tobacco-related diseases kill over 44 000 South Africans and 5.4 million people worldwide annually. That is, one person every six seconds.

 - Hepatitis B & C viruses, as well the Human Papilloma and Herpes Human cause up to 20% of cancers in Africa. Getting vaccinated against these viruses, and those that can cause cancer, can help prevent the offset of cancer.

 - Getting regular medical care and doing self-examinations make a big difference.  Conducting regular self-examinations and going for screening tests for various types of cancers - such as cancer of the breast, testicles, skin, colon, prostate and cervix – will increase one’s chances of discovering cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Ask a doctor about the best cancer screening available. Cansa offers a variety of screenings at the Cansa Care Centres & Mobile Health Units countrywide.

 -  An effective strategy in assisting to lower the risk for cancer is to avoid risky behaviours that can lead to infections which, in turn, might increase the risk for cancer.

 - Practise safe sex, limit the number of sexual partners and use a condom when having sex. The more sexual partners, the more likely to contract a sexually transmitted infection - such as HIV or HPV. People who have HIVAids have a higher risk for cancer of the anus, liver and lung. HPV is most often associated with cervical cancer, but it might also increase the risk for cancer of the anus, penis, throat, vulva and vagina.

For more information visit or join Cansa on Facebook and Twitter.

(Photo of young couple from Shutterstock)


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CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer. Questions are answered by CANSA’s Head of Health Professor Michael Herbst. For more information, visit

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