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Physicals Should Emphasize Prevention

The annual physical exam is a great opportunity to refocus your attention on prevention and screening:

  • At age 50, it's time to begin regular screening for colorectal cancer. People with immediate family members with colorectal cancer may need to be screened before age 50.
  • For some women, age 40 marks the time to begin annual mammogram screening for breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about possible benefits and risks to starting mammography before 50 years of age.
  • Everyone should have their cholesterol (lipids) checked every five years after age 20, according to the American Heart Association.

Healthy behaviors work far better than medicine at preventing illness, and don't require a prescription:

  • Do 30 minutes of brisk walking or other exercise, most days of the week. Your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer will fall dramatically.
  • Eat a mostly plant-based diet, low in animal fats.
  • Above all, don't smoke.
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