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Healthy Habits for the Men in Your Life

Article date: June 9, 2014

As Father's Day approaches, help the men in your life stay healthy by encouraging them to adopt healthy habits. Eating better, exercising more, and getting recommended screenings are all part of the equation.

Healthy lifestyle choices can lower your risk for cancer.


The lifestyle choices you make every day can have an impact on your risk for developing cancer. Follow these tips: 

  • Quit smoking. In the US, tobacco use is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths. About half of all people who continue to smoke will end up dying from a tobacco-related disease. Tobacco use causes more than a dozen types of cancer, as well as heart disease, emphysema, stroke, and other health problems.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese is linked to a higher risk of several types of cancer. Eating right and getting enough physical activity can help you shed pounds to get to a healthy weight, and stay there.
  • Get regular exercise. Each week, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (the level of a brisk walk) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (the level of a run), preferably spread throughout the week. Be sure to clear any new activity with your doctor before you start.
  • Eat healthy. Eat at least 2 ½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day. Eat less red meat (beef, pork, or lamb), bacon, sausage, luncheon meats, hot dogs, and other processed meats. Instead, focus more on fish, poultry, and beans. Choose whole-grain breads, pasta, and cereals. Limit sugary drinks, desserts and other high-sugar foods.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink (if you drink at all). Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day.

Screening tests can find cancer early, when it's more treatable.

“Screening” is looking for cancer in people who have no symptoms of the disease. Talk to your doctor about these tests, which you might need based on your age and personal and family medical history:

  • Colon cancer: Many colon cancers begin as growths called polyps. If these polyps are found through screening and removed before they turn into cancer, the disease can be stopped before it starts. Screening can also often find cancer before it has had a chance to grow and spread. Start testing at age 50. Your doctor might suggest starting even younger if people in your family had colon cancer, or if you have had certain colon problems in the past. Talk to your doctor about when to start and which test is right for you.
  • Prostate cancer: Starting at age 50, men should talk to their doctor about the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening, then decide if they want to be tested. Men at high risk (African-American men and those with a family history of the disease) should have this talk at age 45 or even earlier.
  • Skin cancer: During your regular checkups, have your doctor check your skin for signs of skin cancer. If you notice any new skin growths or moles or changes to existing moles, tell your doctor right away.
  • Lung cancer: Men who are at high risk for lung cancer because of cigarette smoking may want to consider being screened. Talk to your doctor about lung cancer screening if you are between 55 and 74 years old, in fairly good health, have at least a 30 pack-year smoking history, and are either still smoking or have quit within the past 15 years. A “pack-year” means that someone has smoked an average of 1 pack of cigarettes per day for a year. For example, a person who has smoked a pack a day for 30 years has a 30 pack-year history of smoking, as does a person who smoked 2 packs a day for 15 years.

Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff

ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases. For reprint requests, please contact permissionrequest@cancer.org.

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