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What Causes Cancer?

What causes cancer? A question too often asked. While some factors cannot be controlled, did you know that the World Cancer Research Fund estimates that 20 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the US could have been prevented — largely through lifestyle changes? 

But in order to make changes, you first need to recognize what they are: 


Alcohol is a known cause of cancer of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, and female breast — but only 39 percent of Americans recognize that alcohol increases this cancer risk. According to the American Cancer Society, almost 2 in 3 Americans say they drink, which means more Americans say they drink alcohol than are aware that it causes cancer. For those that drink alcohol, men should limit their intakes to no more than 2 drinks per day and women should limit their intakes to 1 drink per day.

Red Meat.

It has been reported that diets high in red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) have been linked to an increased risk of colon, rectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer. If you tend to eat red meat, choose lean cuts and smaller portions — or opt for fish, poultry, or beans instead of red meat!


While the evidence of whether sugar itself causes cancer is not conclusive, sugar does contribute to weight gain and obesity — which can cause cancer. As such it’s important to watch your sugar intake and limit high-sugar drinks (sodas, sports drinks, etc.) and high-sugar foods (candies, sugary breakfast cereals, etc.).

Sun Exposure.

The dangers of too much sun exposure are well known. The UV rays from the sun as well as man-made sources, like tanning beds, all contribute to causing cancer. The good news is skin cancer, if found early, is often very treatable. But to avoid getting to this point, it’s important to protect your skin regularly, even in non-peak seasons. If you notice any changes to your skin, speak with your physician. 

For more cancer facts, visit the American Cancer Society’s website here.

As one of Long Island's most respected radiology practices for over 80 years, we’ve worked continuously to serve patients and referring physicians with the latest advances in diagnostic imaging. Our commitment to providing the highest level of care begins with our doctors, all board-certified with extensive experience and advanced specialty training. All nine Medical Arts Radiology locations are accredited by the American College of Radiology and have earned designation as Breast Imaging Centers of Excellence.

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