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Cancer Fewer than ten percent of most cancers are thought to be due to strong hereditary factors. Many physicians believe that prevention is the best way to effectively tackle cancer. One of those factors in prevention is the individual knowing their family history so that they can develop an awareness of their families' cancer lineage. Other factors are a balanced diet, not smoking, moderate alcohol consumption and exercise. Strong hereditary factors that increase cancer risk are more likely to be found in families that have: • Individuals diagnosed with cancer at a younger than expected age (for example, breast cancer in the 40's or prostate cancer in the 50's) • Three or more cancers on once side of the family • Three or more generations affected with cancer • Individuals diagnosed with two or more cancers (but not a metastasis or spread from a cancer to another part of the body). The BRCA1 gene is on chromosome 17. BRCA2 is located on chromosome 13. A woman who inherits a mutation in either of these two genes has an increased risk of both breast and ovarian cancer. That is, the same genetic change results in an increased risk of these two cancers. In some families there is also an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, melanoma, and other cancers, but the risk of these cancers if far lower than the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.1-2 Another preventative step is to understand how cancer functions. If people can educate themselves about how cancer survives and works, they can take necessary steps to change their lifestyle to prevent cancer. Cancer is a loss of mitosis, or cell division. Cells begin to divide at an uncontrollable rate, which eventually spreads and eats awa... ... middle of paper ... ...ence from a case-control study. Am J Epidemiol 1982;115:59-66. 15. La Vecchia C, Franceschi S, Decarli A, et al. Cigarette smoking and the risk of cervical neoplasia. Am J Epidemiol 1986; 123:22. 16. Slattery ML, Robinson LM, Schuman KL, et al. Cigarette smoking and exposure to passive smoke are risk factors for cervical cancer. JAMA 1989;261:1593. 17. Burger MM, Hollema H. Gouw AH, et al. Cigarette smoking and human papillomavirus in patients with reported cervical cytological abnormality. Br Med J 1993;306:749. 18. Schiffman MH, Haley NJ, Felton JS, et al. Biochemical epidemiology of cervical neoplasia: measuring cigarette smoke constituents in the cervix. Cancer Res 1987;47:3886. 19. Prokopczyk B, Cox JE, Hoffman D, et al. Identification of tobacco-specific carcinogens in the cervical mucus of smokers and nonsmokers. J Natl Cancer Inst 1997;89:868-873.

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