Healthy Lifestyle Choices for Everyone

Stay away from tobacco

There is no safe form of tobacco. If you smoke cigarettes or use other types of tobacco products, it's best to stop. It's also important to stay away from tobacco smoke (secondhand smoke). Both using tobacco products and being exposed to tobacco smoke can cause cancer as well as many other health problems. If you don't use tobacco products, you can help others by encouraging the people around you to quit. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 for help, or see How to Quit Smoking or Smokeless Tobacco to learn more about quitting.

Get to and stay at a healthy weight

Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for many types of cancer. You can control your weight with the choices you make about healthy eating and exercise:
- Avoiding excessive weight gain throughout life
- Balance the calories you take in with the amount of physical activity you do

If you are overweight, try to get to a healthy weight and stay there. Losing even a small amount of weight has health benefits and is a good place to start. Watching your portion sizes is an important part of weight control – especially for foods high in fat and sugar. Low-fat and fat-free doesn’t always mean low-calorie, so read labels and try to eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in the place of higher-calorie foods.

Get moving

Adults: Each week, get at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity  or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (or a combination of these). Getting to or doing more than the upper limit of 300 minutes is ideal.

Children and teens: Get at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity every day.

Moderate activity is anything that makes you breathe as hard as you do during a brisk walk. During moderate activities, you’ll notice a slight increase in heart rate and breathing. You should be able to talk, but not sing during the activity.

Vigorous activities are performed at a higher intensity. They cause an increased heart rate, sweating, and a faster breathing rate.

Don’t be a couch potato - limit the amount of time you spend sitting or lying down.

Doing some physical activity above usual activities, no matter what one’s level of activity, can have many health benefits.

Eat healthy

Follow a healthy eating pattern that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limits or avoids red and processed meats, sugary drinks, and highly processed foods

It's best not to drink alcohol

If you do drink, have no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men

A drink is 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ½ ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.

See our Guideline on Diet and Physical Activity for more information.

If you are 21 to 29, here's what you need to know about screening tests for certain cancers:

Colon Cancer Testing

Find out if you are at higher than average risk for colon cancer because of family history, genetic disorders, or other factors. If not, then testing is not needed at this time. If you are at increased risk, talk to a health care provider about when you need to start testing and what tests are right for you.

Breast Cancer Testing

All women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a health care provider right away. Find out if you are at higher than average risk for breast cancer. If not, then testing is not needed at this time. If you are, talk to a health care provider about when you need to start getting mammograms or other screening tests.

Cervical Cancer Testing

No test is needed before age 25.

Starting at age 25 and through age 65, all people with a cervix should have a primary HPV test* every 5 years. If a primary HPV test is not available in your area, then acceptable options include a co-test (an HPV test done at the same time as a Pap test) every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years. (*A primary HPV test is an FDA approved test that is done by itself for screening.) The most important thing to remember is to get screened regularly, no matter which test you get.

Follow testing recommendations even if you've been vaccinated against HPV.

You don't need testing after surgery that removed the cervix as long as it was done for reasons not related to cervical cancer or pre-cancer.

If you are 30 to 39, these screening tests for certain cancers might be recommended for you:

Colon Cancer Testing

Find out if you are at higher than average risk for colon cancer because of family history, genetic disorders, or other factors. If not, then testing is not needed at this time. If you are at increased risk, talk to a health care provider about when you need to start testing and what tests are right for you.

Breast Cancer Testing

All women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a health care provider right away. Find out if you are at higher than average risk for breast cancer. If not, then testing is not needed at this time. If you are, talk to a health care provider about when you need to start getting mammograms or other screening tests.

Cervical Cancer Testing

People with a cervix should get a primary HPV test* every 5 years. If a primary HPV test is not available in your area, then acceptable options include a co-test (an HPV test done at the same time as a Pap test) every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years. (*A primary HPV test is an FDA approved test that is done by itself for screening.) The most important thing to remember is to get screened regularly, no matter which test you get.

Follow testing recommendations even if you've been vaccinated against HPV.

You don't need testing after surgery that removed the cervix as long as it was done for reasons not related to cervical cancer or pre-cancer.

People with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue testing for 25 years after that diagnosis.

If you are 40 to 49, these screening tests for certain cancers are recommended:

Colon Cancer Testing

All people at average risk should start testing at age 45. There are several testing options. Talk with a health care provider about which tests are best for you and how often testing should be done.

If you're younger than 45, find out if you are at higher than average risk for colon cancer because of family history, genetic disorders, or other factors. If not, then testing is not needed at this time. If you are at increased risk, talk to a health care provider about when you need to start testing and what tests are right for you.

Breast Cancer Testing

Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so. The pros and cons of screening should be considered when making this decision.

Starting at age 45, women should get mammograms every year.

It’s important to know if you are at higher than average risk for breast cancer. If you are, talk to a health care provider about when you need to start getting mammograms and whether you need to get other tests along with your mammograms.

It's also important to know how your breasts normally look and feel and to report any changes to a health care provider right away.

Cervical Cancer Testing

People with a cervix should get a primary HPV test* every 5 years. If a primary HPV test is not available in your area, then acceptable options include a co-test (an HPV test done at the same time as a Pap test) every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years. (*A primary HPV test is an FDA approved test that is done by itself for screening.) The most important thing to remember is to get screened regularly, no matter which test you get.

Follow testing recommendations even if you’ve been vaccinated against HPV.

You don't need testing after surgery that removed the cervix as long as it was done for reasons not related to cervical cancer or pre-cancer

People with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue testing for 25 years after that diagnosis.

Prostate Cancer Testing

Starting at age 45, men at higher than average risk of prostate cancer should talk with a doctor about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of testing so they can decide if they want to be tested. This includes African-American men and men with close family members (father, brother, son) who had prostate cancer before age 65.

Men with more than one close relative who had prostate cancer before age 65 are at even higher risk and should talk with a doctor about testing starting at age 40.

If you are 50 to 64, these screening tests for certain cancers are recommended:

Colon Cancer Testing

All people at average risk should start testing at age 45, so talk to your health care provider if you haven't started yet. There are several testing options. Talk with a health care provider about which tests are best for you and how often testing should be done.

Lung Cancer Testing

If you are age 50 or older, talk to a health care provider about your smoking history and whether you should get yearly low-dose CT scans to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit you if you smoke now or if you quit within the past 15 years, have no signs of lung cancer, and have a 20 pack-year smoking history. (A pack-year is 1 pack of cigarettes per day per year. One pack per day for 20 years or 2 packs per day for 10 years would both be 20 pack-years.) You should discuss the benefits, limitations, risks, and potential costs of screening with a health care provider before testing is done. You also should find out how much the test will cost – not all health insurances cover it.

Breast Cancer Testing

Women ages 50 to 54 should get mammograms every year. Be sure you understand the pros and cons of breast cancer screening.

Starting at age 55, you should switch to getting mammograms every 2 years, or you can continue to get one every year.

It’s important to know if you are at higher than average risk for breast cancer. If you are, talk to a health care provider about whether you need to get other tests done along with your mammograms.

It's also important to know how your breasts normally look and feel and to report any changes to a health care provider right away.

Cervical Cancer Testing

People with a cervix should get a primary HPV test* every 5 years. If a primary HPV test is not available in your area, then acceptable options include a co-test (an HPV test done at the same time as a Pap test) every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years. (*A primary HPV test is an FDA approved test that is done by itself for screening.) The most important thing to remember is to get screened regularly, no matter which test you get.

No testing is needed after surgery that removed the cervix as long as it was done for reasons not related to cervical cancer or pre-cancer.

People with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue testing for 25 years after that diagnosis.

Prostate Cancer Testing

Starting at age 50, all men at average risk should talk with a health care provider about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of testing so they can decide if they want to be tested.

If you are 65 or older, these screening tests for certain cancers are covered by Medicare and are recommended:

Colon Cancer Testing

Testing is recommended up through age 75. People aged 76 to 85 should talk with their health care provider about whether continuing screening is right for them. Most people older than 85 should no longer be screened. If you are being screened, there are many testing options. Talk with a health care provider about which tests are best for you and how often testing should be done.

Lung Cancer Testing

If you have a smoking history, talk to a health care provider about it and whether you should get an annual low-dose CT scan to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit if you smoke now or smoked before (quit within the past 15 years), have no signs of lung cancer, and have a 20 pack-year smoking history. (A pack-year is 1 pack of cigarettes per day per year. One pack per day for 20 years or 2 packs per day for 10 years would both be 20 pack-years.) You should discuss the benefits, limitations, and risks of screening with a health care provider before testing is done.

Breast Cancer Testing

You should get a mammogram every 2 years, or you can choose to get one every year. Be sure you understand the pros and cons of breast cancer screening.

It’s important to know if you are at higher than average risk for breast cancer. If you are, talk to a health care provider about whether you need to get other tests done along with your mammograms.

It's also important to know how your breasts normally look and feel and to report any changes to a health care provider right away.

Cervical Cancer Testing

No testing is needed if you’ve had regular cervical cancer testing with normal results during the previous 10 years.

No testing is needed after surgery that removed the cervix as long as it was done for reasons not related to cervical cancer or pre-cancer.

People with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue testing for 25 years after that diagnosis.

Prostate Cancer Testing

Overall health status, and not age alone, is important when making decisions about prostate cancer testing. Men who can expect to live at least 10 more years should talk with a health care provider about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of testing so they can decide if they want to be tested.