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How an oncologist helps prevent cancer

Norleena Gullett, MD

blog cancer prevention

I know cancer. I know how cancer starts, how it survives and why it multiplies. I know why it spreads, where it likes to go and the devastation it leaves behind. 

I am a radiation oncologist and I treat cancer every day. So when I get home at night, I think about how to prevent cancer. Like you, I want to protect myself and my loved ones from this epidemic. Here are my thoughts based on the current medical literature:

  • Don’t smoke. Tobacco, marijuana—doesn’t matter. Don’t use chewing tobacco either.
  • Eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. Straight up. Buy organic if you can, or grow them in your garden. Eat a fruit or a vegetable every time you put something in your mouth. We don’t fully understand why, but they seem to protect us from cancer—a lot.
  • Get some fresh air and sunshine daily. Turns out vitamin D is really important, and the best way to get it is from the sun.
  • Be active. It turns out the body was made for motion and if we don’t keep it moving, there are consequences.
    • Take the stairs. Often hard to find, but worth it. Trust me.
    • Park the farthest away from the store you can get (even at Christmas). Seriously, trolling for parking is a health hazard.
    • Carry your heavy shopping bags to this far-away parking space—quickly.
    • Play with your children and pets as much as possible.
  • Avoid processed foods. What are these? Basically anything that comes in a bag that you or God didn’t put it in.
  • Avoid processed foods. Worth repeating. Turns out the only thing worth reading on those complicated food labels are the “Ingredients” and if you don’t recognize them, don’t put them in your mouth.

Finally, get the HPV vaccine if you are eligible. HPV is a virus that can cause throat cancer, which is treated aggressively with surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy. HPV also causes cervical cancer, which can require surgery or radiation to treat. Hard to understand why anyone would prefer this to prevention. Really hard to understand.

Okay, that’s my starter list, more to come. Keep it simple—you throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball.

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