Such a rampant, evasive disease is born from a seemingly simple problem: Out-of-control cell growth. There are tons of sneaky sources of cell mutations. According to a paper arguing that cancer is a preventable disease, most cancer cases can be attributed to environmental factors like tobacco, diet and infections, as well as stress, physical activity and environmental pollutants, while an estimated 5-10 percent of cases are related to your genes. But a New England Journal of Medicine study found that certain types of cancer—specifically prostate, colorectal and breast cancers—tend to be significantly more heritable.If someone in your family has or had cancer…

  • Find out: The exact age your full-blood relative had the cancer, particularly breast or colon cancer.
  • Test this: Get screened ten years prior to the age of onset. So if your mother had cancer at 47, you should get a mammogram at age 37 instead of waiting until the recommended age of 40. Same goes for a colonoscopy in screening for colon cancer (normally recommended at age 50).
  • Keep in mind: With breast and ovarian cancer, there is a blood test to see if you have a genetic risk. However, you must have other risks before thinking about such a test, which would require direction of a doctor and genetic counselor, Wellness Advisor Beth Ricanati, M.D. warns. This test identifies mutations in the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes, which have been linked to development of these cancers.
  • Take a simple step: Get active. A woman who is physically active at some point in her life has a 30 percent lower risk of breast cancer than a woman who reports being inactive.

THIS STUDY, EXPLAINED: Exercise Reduces Breast Cancer Risk

  • According the American Cancer Society, 45-60 minutes of intentional physical activity at least five days a week may reduce colon and breast cancer risk.

A note on skin cancer: You should visit your dermatologist for a skin cancer check yearly if it runs in your family. These frequent checks aren’t necessary if you don’t have this risk factor, or other risk factors, like fair skin and frequent UV light exposure.WATCH VIDEO:QUIZ: Test Your Physical Activity Levels Now