News Release

December 6, 2004

Contact: Maureen McGuire, 860-679-4523

A Healthy Resolution: The Cancer Prevention Plan

UConn Cancer Expert Spells Out Seven-Step Plan

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Looking for a meaningful New Year’s resolution? Forget about fad diets and make a lifelong commitment to lower your cancer risk, suggests Carolyn D. Runowicz, M.D., director of the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

“We now know that people can take actions to lower their cancer risk,” said Dr. Runowicz who is President Elect of the American Cancer Society and co-author of a breakthrough new book about cancer prevention, The Answer to Cancer. “Science has shown us that specific drugs can prevent cancer, and also that lifestyle changes can help prevent certain types of cancer. The new frontier of cancer research is prevention,” she said.

In The Answer to Cancer, Dr. Runowicz and co-author Sheldon H. Cherry, M.D., offer a thoughtful, science-based approach to help men and women take charge of their health and reduce their risk of cancer. The cornerstone of the book is a seven-step Cancer Prevention Plan – a plan anyone can introduce into their daily lives.

  • Quit smoking – or better yet, never start smoking: If you are a smoker, “the most important thing you can do to extend your life is to stop smoking,” Dr. Runowicz says. The book provides insight into available tools, resources and medications to help people quit smoking.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: For many Americans, reaching a healthy weight requires losing weight. “In general, cutting 200 to 500 calories from your daily diet and burning more calories through regular physical activity will lead to a slow but steady weight loss,” Dr. Runowicz said. “We encourage our patients to count calories and be mindful of serving sizes,” she added.
  • Eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day – and strive for nine: Fruits and vegetables contain an abundance of cancer-preventing nutrients, such as antioxidants. Research has consistently suggested that diets high in fruits and vegetables can lower cancer risks. However, Dr. Runowicz stresses that it is important to eat the whole fruit or vegetable, rather than nutritional supplements such as bottled beta carotene sold in health food stores. “Your grandmother was right – eat your fruits and vegetables every day to stay healthy!” she said. The Answer to Cancer provides helpful lists of powerful fruits and vegetables – prunes, blueberries, oranges, kale, spinach and eggplant to name a few – and offers advice on how to incorporate healthy foods into daily life.
  • Get moving – add exercise to your daily life: “Studies have confirmed for us that an active lifestyle improves the odds of avoiding some cancers,” Dr. Runowicz said. She advises patients to find ways to make exercise an every day habit.
  • Practice safe sex: Sexually transmitted viruses and bacteria can increase cancer risk. Until a relationship is long-term and monogamous, she advises using a condom and spermicide, along with a woman’s birth control method.
  • Avoid overexposure to sunlight: UV rays from the sun or artificial sources, such as tanning beds, are cancer-causing substances. Dr. Runowicz strongly encourages people to wear and liberally re-apply sunscreen whenever they are in the sun – and better yet, to avoid sun exposure during peak hours.
  • Schedule your cancer check-ups: Cancer is treated best when it is detected in its earliest stages. Men and women should be aware of all the appropriate tests for their age and risk-factors and be vigilant about regular screenings. The Answer to Cancer outlines appropriate tests for men and women. In addition, patients can be seen at the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center for individual risk assessment evaluations.

“Changing your lifestyle to prevent cancer may be a challenge, especially if you smoke or are overweight or sedentary. But if you can muster the motivation to stay the course with your health makeover, you will see concrete benefits,” Dr. Runowicz added.

“As you look toward the New Year, remember to set realistic goals. Change takes time. Eventually, new habits like eating more fruits and vegetables and exercising more will become second nature,” she said.

Along with The Answer to Cancer, Dr. Runowicz has also written To Be Alive: A Woman’s Guide to a Full Life After Cancer; The Menopause Book: A Guide to Women’s Health After 40, which was also co-authored with Dr. Cherry; and Women and Cancer: A Thorough and Compassionate Resource for Patients and Their Families.

The Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center provides a full spectrum of cancer services, from education and prevention strategies to early detection services, innovative, state-of-the-art treatments, reconstructive surgery, rehabilitation and support services. In addition, patients at the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center can participate in a range of clinical trials and research studies. Services are provided in a convenient location at the UConn Health Center campus in Farmington. For more information, visit

UConn Health includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Home to Bioscience Connecticut, UConn Health pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about UConn Health is available at

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