A risk factor is something that increases your chances of developing cancer. Some risk factors cannot be changed, such as family history or genetics. Fortunately, many risk other factors can be modified.
Smoking tobacco introduces a variety of harmful chemicals into your body. The chemicals are carried in the bloodstream and processed throughout the body. This exposure may affect the DNA in cells, causing abnormal growth of new cells.
Quitting smoking is an important step in preventing leukemia and other cancers. The sooner smoking is stopped, the sooner the body can start to heal. Talk to your doctor about the options available to help you successfully quit.
People who work in different jobs may come into contact with chemicals that are known to be harmful, such as benzene. If possible, try to find work in a different environment. If it is unavoidable, take steps to protect yourself from exposure. Check with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or the Environmental Protection Agency about any available protective guidelines.
Low levels of benzene are found outdoors in products like gasoline, vehicle exhaust, or pollution from industry. Indoors, exposure can come from glue, paint, or a variety of cleaning products. When using products that contain benzene or other harmful chemicals, follow instructions carefully. Avoiding direct contact, or using a mask or ventilation while using chemicals will help you reduce your exposure.
Radiation accumulates in the body over the course of a lifetime. Radiation does occur naturally, but low doses are also delivered during medical and dental procedures. Repeated doses of this radiation may increase the risk of leukemia. Some exposure may be necessary for medical treatment, but work with your doctor to avoid unnecessary exposure to this type of radiation.
Can acute lymphocytic leukemia be prevented? American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/leukemia-acutelymphocyticallinadults/detailedguide/leukemia-acute-lymphocytic-prevention. Updated January 12, 2015. Accessed February 11, 2016.
Can acute myeloid leukemia be prevented? American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/leukemia-acutemyeloidaml/detailedguide/leukemia-acute-myeloid-myelogenous-prevention. Updated December 9, 2014. Accessed February 11, 2016.
Can chronic lymphcytic leukemia be prevented? American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/leukemia-chroniclymphocyticcll/detailedguide/leukemia-chronic-lymphocytic-prevention. Updated February 26, 2015. Accessed February 11, 2016.
Can chronic myeloid leukemia be prevented? American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/leukemia-chronicmyeloidcml/detailedguide/leukemia-chronic-myeloid-myelogenous-prevention. Updated February 24, 2015. Accessed February 11, 2016.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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