Today, Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein joined leaders across the world in highlighting World Cancer Day, an effort by the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness about cancer prevalence and emphasize the importance of preventive measures that can reduce the risk of cancer death. 

“Cancer affects all of our communities in the state and the nation. We all know someone who has been impacted by this awful disease, but the good news is we can take preventive measures to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” Secretary Greenstein said. “With a proper diet, regular exercise and health checkups, people can live healthier lives and reduce their risk of cancer and other diseases.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is the leading cause of death around the world, killing more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Moreover, the United Health Foundation's "America's Health Rankings" latest survey again placed Louisiana at the bottom of overall health care outcomes nationally, ranking 48th in overall cancer deaths. According to American Cancer Society, nearly 21,000 Louisiana residents were diagnosed with cancer in 2010, and 8,400 died from cancer.

While no guarantees exist for fully preventing cancer, these tips from the Mayo Clinic can help reduce the risk:

Stay away from Tobacco
According to WHO, tobacco is the single largest preventable cause of cancer in the world, but it’s also the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Tobacco use has been linked to a number of cancers, including cancer of the lung, bladder, cervix, kidney, oral cavity, larynx, esophagus and stomach. The Louisiana Tobacco Control Program can assist tobacco users; for more information, visit

Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity can increase cancer risk, so everyone should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and eat a minimal amount of high-fat food products. It’s also important to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.

Protect yourself from the sun
The sun can lead to certain types of cancer, so you should avoid midday sun when possible; stay in the shade if you have to be outside, use generous amounts of sunscreen cover and cover any exposed areas; and avoid tanning beds and sunlamps, which are just as damaging as natural sunlight.

Get immunized
Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections. Talk to your doctor about immunization against Hepatitis B and Human papillomavirus (HPV).

Take early detection seriously
Regular self-exams and professional screening for various types of cancers, such as cancer of the skin, colon, prostate, cervix and breast, can increase your chances of discovering cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. To find out the best cancer screening schedule for you, talk to your doctor.

To learn more about World Cancer Day, visit

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's blog at, Twitter at and search for the Louisiana Department of Health on Facebook.