April is National Cancer Control Month

Wednesday, 07 April 2010

April has been established by Presidential proclamation as National Cancer Control Month. The month encourages cancer control in individuals by improving their lifestyles, promoting the importance cancer screenings, and improving the quality of life for cancer survivors. Firefighters are often exposed to many different things on the job that can increase your risk of getting cancer. It is important to know your risks and take steps to reduce them.

One of the biggest ways to reduce the risk of cancer is to quit smoking if you are a smoker. Research has found a strong link between tobacco use and many cancers. Quitting smoking has proven to greatly reduce your risk of developing cancer and other serious diseases. For information and tips on quitting smoking, visit the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program web site.

Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are other ways to help reduce your risk of developing cancer and other serious illnesses. A healthy diet includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk products, lean meats, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts and is also low in salt and added sugars. In addition, regular physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of colon, breast, and other cancers. Find more information on nutrition and fitness from the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program.

Taking small precautions on the job can have a big impact towards reducing your risk of cancer. For instance, if you are going to wash the apparatus, pull it outside. Leaving the apparatus running inside the apparatus bays can allow harmful fumes to build up and get in your lungs. If your station has an exhaust removal system, be sure to use it. If your station does not have an exhaust removal, there are grants available to get one. During overhaul, be sure to leave your SCBA on until the air is deemed breathable. Many harmful toxins remain in the air long after the fire is out. Keeping your SCBA on for an extra ten to fifteen minutes can go a long way to reducing your risk of cancer.

Remember it’s your health and life – take responsibility and start a trend of healthy actions in your department. Find more information on an all-around healthy lifestyle on the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program web site.

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