Cancer rates may be declining slowly, but deaths from certain types of cancer are still on the rise, and more than 1,500 people in the United States still die from it every day. Stand Up 2 Cancer is determined to accelerate and innovate cancer research, so that patients can have access to new treatments quickly, and scientists can find a cure. Their telethon tonight (8 p.m. ET, on Yahoo.com and elsewhere) is dedicated to raising money and awareness for the fight against cancers of all kinds.
"This broadcast has become a global call-to-action for all those touched by cancer," Gwyneth Paltrow, who is one of the telethon's executive producers, said in a statement. "Like so many people, I know what it's like to lose a family member to this disease, and I'm honored to stand up in my father's memory."
Since 2008, the organization has given out $109 million to fund hundreds of scientists working toward finding a cure for cancer. (Their funding is administered by the American Association for Cancer Research; you can donate at StandUp2Cancer.org) Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Justin Timberlake, Sofia Vergara, Gabrielle Douglas, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Coldplay, Alicia Keys and other recording artists and celebrities will perform during tonight's telethon.
According to the World Health Organization, at least one-third of all cancer cases are preventable. Here are five easy steps you can take to lower your own risk of cancer:
Use sun protection. Skin cancer accounts for nearly half of all cancer cases in the United States -- more than 2 million cases a year, The American Cancer Society notes. While a little bit of sun exposure helps your body produce vitamin D, too much exposure can quickly lead to melanomas and worse -- even for people with darker skin. Slathering on sunscreen (you should use about a shot-glass's worth to cover your whole body) whenever you're outdoors can help protect your skin from damage and reduce your risk of skin cancer.
Watch what you eat. A new study shows that organic food is not more nutritious than conventional food, but organic options can lower your exposure to some cancer-causing pesticides. (The "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean 15" lists can help you decide when buying organic does or doesn't make sense.) And certain foods -- blueberries, kiwis, cantaloupe, garlic, green tea, and fatty fish, among others -- are high in compounds that can help protect against different types of cancers. Also: Drinking plenty of water can help cut your risk of bladder cancer, and reducing your alcohol intake (especially if you're male) can reduce your risk of mouth and oropharynx cancer.
Don't smoke or chew tobacco. "Using any type of tobacco puts you on a collision course with cancer," the experts at the Mayo Clinic warn. Smoking has been linked to lung cancer, of course, but also to cancers of the bladder, cervix, stomach, larynx, esophagus, and kidneys. Chewing tobacco has been linked to oral cancers and cancer of the pancreas. (Want to quit smoking? Yahoo! Shine has some tips.)
Watch your weight. If you're overweight, losing just a couple of pounds can help reduce your risk of several types of cancer. A recent study by Dr. Anne McTiernan at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that overweight, post-menopausal women who exercised moderately for just three hours a week were able to drop enough weight to lower the levels of circulating estrogen in their bodies which, in turn, lowered their risk for developing estrogen-sensitive breast cancers.
Get screened regularly. Catching cancer early can be the key to successful treatment, so it's important for men and women to stay on top of routine screenings. Guidelines for mammograms and pap smears have changed in recent years. And the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that both girls and boys get the HPV vaccine to protect against contracting or transmitting the virus that can cause cervical cancer.
Also on Shine:
How to spot skin cancer
My battle with breast cancer: The road to reconstruction
Giuliana Rancic on fitness, recovering from cancer, and looking forward to motherhood