Cancer Prevention Starts in Childhood
You can reduce your children’s risk of getting cancer later in life. Start by helping them adopt a healthy lifestyle with good eating habits and plenty of exercise to keep a healthy weight. Then follow the tips below to help prevent specific kinds of cancer.
Stay Safe in the Sun
Just a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life. Follow our sun safety tips to protect their skin from the sun whenever they’re outdoors.
Indoor tanning and tanning outside are both dangerous. Don’t let your children or teens tan.
Get Your Kids Vaccinated Against HPV
Human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex, is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV infection also can cause many vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers.
The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most commonly cause cancer. Both boys and girls should start and finish the HPV vaccine series of three shots when they are 11 or 12 years old. Teen girls and young women through 26 years, as well as teen boys and young men through 21 years, who haven’t started or finished the series should get those shots as soon as possible. The HPV vaccine can be given beginning at age 9.
Talk to Your Kids About Smoking and Cancer
The best way to prevent cancer caused by smoking is for kids to never start. Most people start smoking during adolescence. Nearly 9 out of 10 smokers start smoking by age 18, and 99% start by age 26.
In 2011, 44.7% of high school students reported that they had at least tried smoking. One in five high school students was a current smoker. Talk to your children about why you don’t want them to smoke.
Smoke from other people’s cigarettes (“secondhand” smoke) can cause lung cancer. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke for nonsmokers. Don’t expose your children to secondhand smoke. You can quit now.
Our Protect Your Family and Yourself from Skin Cancer fact sheet[PDF-860KB]explains how to stay sun-safe outdoors, and why children and teens should avoid indoor tanning and sunbathing.
Many kids smoke cigars and hookahs, which can be as dangerous as cigarettes. This podcast discusses ways to reduce tobacco use.
Our “Sun Safety: What You Can Do” brochure[PDF-860KB] explains what schools, health care providers, and parents can do to reduce children’s risk for skin cancer.