How to Beat Cancer—Twice | Reader's Digest

How to Beat Cancer—Twice

What doctors and their patients should be talking about when it comes to cancer awareness.

By Susan Ince from Reader's Digest Magazine | March 2013

How to Beat Cancer—TwicePhotograph by Jamie Chung
“The lifestyle factors that contributed to your first cancer can raise your risk of a second.”

“There is a strong connection between many lifestyle factors and the development of primary cancer,” says Jennifer Ligibel, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and senior physician at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. But changing these habits isn’t always easy.

The leading culprit: tobacco. A smoker who has survived lung cancer, for example, is at a fivefold higher risk of developing laryngeal cancer. Other exposures that may increase second-cancer risk: heavy alcohol use (especially in smokers) and certain hormones, chemicals, and infections.

What you can do: You can’t change your genetics or your medical history, but you can control health habits—diet, exercise, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

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