Signs You’re Developing Cancer

Cancer is a leading cause of death in the US, second only to heart disease—but with early detection, many cancers can be treated.

“What I tell my patients to keep an eye out for is anything that’s new and it’s persistent in getting worse over a period of two weeks, and if that happens, to give us a call to let us know what’s going on and we’ll have you come in for an appointment,” says Brittany L. Bychkovsky, MD, MSc.

“So, if you’ve strained your knee running and it’s now better, I don’t need to know about it. If you have a stuffy nose and a sore throat, and it’s getting better, I also don’t need to know about it, but if you aren’t feeling well and something is going on that’s persistent and getting worse over a period of two weeks, come in and be seen.”

Here are two signs you’re at high risk of cancer, according to the CDC.

Being Overweight

According to the CDC, being overweight or obese is linked to a higher risk of developing 13 types of cancer.

“Excess fat tissue causes an overproduction of several blood and tissue factors that can initiate or promote growth of tumors, such as estrogens, testosterone, inflammation, insulin, and factors that cause growth of blood vessels that can feed tumors,” says Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, a cancer prevention researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

“Both men and women have increased risks for several cancers if they are overweight or obese. We found that weight loss, as little as 5% to 10% loss of starting weight, significantly reduced blood levels of estrogens, testosterone, insulin, inflammation-related biomarkers and markers of angiogenesis.”

Drinking Too Much Alcohol

According to the CDC, drinking alcohol raises the risk of getting six kinds of cancer.

“It is important that people are made fully aware of the potential harms of alcohol so that they may make informed decisions about alcohol consumption,” says assistant professor Kara P. Wiseman of the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences and UVA Cancer Center.

“By identifying ways to support consistent discussion about alcohol between providers and patients, and developing messaging about the potential harms of alcohol, we may be able to begin to address an important cancer risk factor.”

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