Does what I do really affect my health?
Very much so. All of the major causes
of death--cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and
injury--can be prevented by things you do.
Don't smoke or
Using tobacco is one of the most dangerous
things you can do. One out of every 6 deaths in the United States
can be blamed on smoking. More preventable illnesses are caused by
tobacco than by anything else.
Limit how much alcohol you
This means no more than 2 drinks a day for men, and 1
drink a day for women. One drink is a can of beer (12 ounces), a
4-ounce glass of wine or a jigger (1 ounce) of liquor.
much alcohol can damage the liver and contribute to some cancers,
such as throat and liver cancer. Alcohol also contributes to deaths
from car wrecks, murders and suicides.
See the boxes below for tips on eating healthy. Heart
disease, some cancers, stroke, diabetes and damage to your arteries
can be linked to what you eat. Fiber, fruits and vegetables can help
reduce your risk of some cancers. Calcium helps build strong
What to eat
- 2 to 4 servings of fruits and 3 to 5 servings of vegetables a
- 6 to 11 servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta a day
- 2 to 3 servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese
- 2 to 3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, egg whites
or nuts a day
- Lots of fiber (found in whole-grain breads and cereals, fruits
What not to eat
- Saturated fat. Saturated fats include animal fats,
hydrogenated vegetable fats and tropical fats (coconut and palm
oil). A high-fat diet increases your risk of heart disease, breast
and colon cancer, and gallbladder disease.
- Sodium. Sodium, found in table salt and some foods, increases
blood pressure in some people. Don't cook with salt, avoid
prepared foods that are high in sodium and add salt sparingly, if
at all, when you're eating.
1 medium piece of fresh
1/2 cup chopped or canned fruit
3/4 cup fruit
1/4 cup dried fruit
raw, leafy vegetables
1/2 cup other vegetables, cooked or
3/4 cup vegetable juice
of bread or a small roll
1/2 bagel or English muffin
1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice or pasta
3 or 4
small or 2 large crackers
1 cup milk or
1 1/2 oz. natural cheese
2 oz. processed cheese
2 to 3 oz. cooked lean meat, poultry
or fish; 1/2 cup cooked dried beans, 1 eggwhite or 2 tablespoons
peanut butter equal 1 oz. meat
Lose weight if you're overweight.
Many Americans are
overweight. Carrying too much weight increases your risk for high
blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, stroke,
some cancers, gallbladder disease and arthritis in the
weight-bearing joints (like the spine, hips or knees). A high-fiber,
low-fat diet and regular exercise can help you lose weight gradually
and help you keep it off.
help prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes,
osteoporosis, depression and, possibly, colon cancer, stroke and
back injury. You'll also feel better and keep your weight under
control if you exercise regularly. Try to exercise for 30 to 60
minutes, 4 to 6 times a week, but any amount is better than none.
Don't sunbathe or use tanning booths.
is linked to skin cancer, which is the most common type of cancer.
So it's best to stay out of the sun altogether or to wear protective
clothing and hats. Sunscreen may help protect your skin somewhat if
you can't avoid being exposed to the sun's harmful rays.
Practice safer sex if you're having sex.
safest sex is between 2 people who are only having sex with each
other and who don't have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or
share needles to inject drugs.
If you're at all uncertain
about your partner, use latex condoms and a spermicide
(sperm-killer). If you're concerned you may be at risk of having an
STD, see your doctor about being tested.
If your cholesterol level is high, keep your
level down by eating right, such as by reducing how much fat you
eat, and by exercising.
Control high blood
High blood pressure increases your risk for heart
disease, stroke and kidney disease. To control it, lose weight,
exercise, eat less sodium, drink less alcohol, don't smoke and take
medicine if your doctor prescribes it.
Keep your shots up
Adults need a tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10
years. People 50 or older and others at risk should get a flu shot.
Ask your doctor if you need other shots.
Check your breasts.
Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death for
women. Examine your breasts every month beginning about age 20. Talk
to your doctor about how to check your breasts. Have your doctor
check your breasts every 1 to 2 years beginning when you're 40.
After age 50, you should have a mammogram every 1 to 2 years.
Get regular Pap smears.
Cancer of the cervix in
women can be detected by regular Pap smears. Start having them when
you begin having sex or by age 18. You'll need them once a year at
first, until you've had at least 3 normal Pap tests. After this, you
should have them at least every 3 years.
Ask your doctor
about other cancer screenings.
Adults over age 50 should ask
their doctor about being checked for colorectal cancer. Men over age
50 should discuss with their doctor the risks and benefits of being
screened for prostate cancer.
Should I have a yearly
Health screenings are replacing the yearly
physical. Instead of every person getting the same exams and tests,
only the appropriate ones are given. Talk to your family doctor
about your risk factors and what tests and exams are right for