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As college students, we’re excited about being away from home for the first time and enjoying what is often referred to as “the best years of your life.” It’s easy to forget that living a healthy lifestyle in college will help set us up for a lifetime of healthiness and happiness long after we’ve earned our degrees and entered the “real world.” Here are a few tips to stay healthy and help to reduce your cancer risk:

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Eat right. The “freshman 15” isn’t just for freshmen, and “all you can eat” does not equal “all you should eat.” So, go light on the pizza and desserts and be sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet. When it comes to snacking, make sure you do it in moderation and stock up on healthy choices. Instead of cookies or chips, try yogurt or carrots with hummus.

Drink responsibly. Of course, it is college and you want to have fun, but be sure not to overdo it. Besides being full of calories and potentially causing damage to your liver, drinking to excess puts you at increased risk for several cancers, including oral, breast and colorectal. Men should limit themselves to two drinks a day while women should have one.

3097640389_0e87cf647c_zDon’t smoke. This sounds obvious but many people start their smoking habit in college, with over 30 percent of students identifying as tobacco users. Even “social smoking” is dangerous. E-cigarettes also are not a healthy substitute. They contain nicotine in uncertain amounts and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing their safety in order to regulate them.

Don’t neglect your bed. That ten page report is due tomorrow and you haven’t started yet? Sounds like another all-nighter. Guzzling coffee and knocking back energy drinks will get you through the night, but they are no substitute for a good night’s rest. So, make use of your planner, tackle big assignments early, and get the recommended eight hours of sleep. You’ll be happier, more energetic, pay more attention in class and maybe even see your GPA go up.

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Get moving. Do your best to get the recommended thirty minutes of exercise per day. Hop on one of the treadmills at the gym. Head outside and go for a run on your school’s outdoor track. Sign up for a yoga class. Join an intramural team. You can even be “gym buddies” with one of your friends to keep each other on track. Exercising is a great way to deal with stress, energize yourself and boost your mood.

Protect your skin. Once the warm weather hits, the quad is prime for studying, tossing frisbees and catching some sun. But before you head outside, remember your sunscreen. Make sure it’s SPF 30 or higher, and remember to reapply it every two hours to protect yourself from skin cancer and increased wrinkles later in life.

Practice safe sex. Did you know that human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus, is the cause of seventy percent of cervical cancers? Protect yourself through regular screenings and avoiding risky behaviors.

For more tips on being healthy and reducing your cancer risk, visit our website.