Love Life? Eat well, exercise, get screened.

February 3, 2015 | Cancer Screening, Health, Women's Health

February is National Cancer Prevention Month. All month long we have the opportunity to pay special attention and to do right for our bodies, and making sure our friends and family does the same. Many cancer deaths could be prevented by making healthy choices like not smoking, staying at a healthy weight, eating right, keeping active, and getting recommended screening tests.  This month, and every month for that matter, we encourage you to learn how to help lower your chances of getting cancer, plus what screening tests the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends, and when.

The good news is the steps listed below can help reduce the risk that you and your loved ones will develop cancer. The better news is that incorporating these approaches into your life—which many of us already do– is almost guaranteed to improve your overall health, and makes you feel better on a daily basis.

Here are some tips to help you reduce your risks and improve your overall health:

  • Choose mostly plant foods, limit red meat and avoid processed meat.
  • Be physically active every day in any way for 30 minutes or more.
  • Aim to be a healthy weight throughout life.
  • Stay up to date on recommended cancer screenings.
  • Choose to live tobacco free.

These guidelines are the same advice given to prevent other chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Let’s take a closer look at few of these guidelines:

  1. Be physically active every day in any way for 30 minutes or more.

Get active! No gym membership required – just get your heart pumping!

30 minutes of physical activity every day, including: walking, vacuuming, dancing or hiking – will lower your risk for colon cancer and possibly other cancers as well.

You might need to get more than 30 minutes a day in order to prevent weight gain – which is very important — but you don’t have to do it all at once. Try breaking your activity into several 15- or 20- minutes’ sessions to fit your schedule. You can even try “Burst! Workout” which is a way to get exercising in 10 minutes at a time and works! Learn more about Burst! at:

  1. Stay up to date on recommended cancer sreenings.

Go to your health care provider for regular cancer screenings throughout your lifetime.


  • Mammogram – every two year beginning at age 50.
  • Clinical Breast exam by your health care provider starting at age 21


  • Colonoscopy – every 10 years beginning at age 50.
  • Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)—done once a year can detect small amounts of blood (occult) in your stool.


  • Pap smear – every 3-5 years beginning at age 21.
  • HPV test—looks for the virus that can cause cell changes on the cervix. If done with a pap test (co-testing) and your results are normal you may be able to wait as long as five years before your next screening.

It’s important to remember, though, that these are general recommendations. Depending on things like family history and risk factors, some people may need to start screening earlier, or get tested more or even less often.

Uninsured or worried about costs? The Montana Cancer Screening Program may be able to help.

So this month especially, keep these guidelines in mind and remember: It’s never too early and never too late to start making choices that improve your chances for good health for 2015 and beyond.