1. Get your cholesterol tested if you haven’t done so in the last 5 years. High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in both men and women.

2. Power up your diet with produce. A diet containing 5 to 9 servings of fruit and vegetables a day may decrease your overall cancer risk, according to the National cancer institute.

3. If you smoke, quit. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking is the leading cause of lung, laryngeal, esophageal, oral, pancreatic, bladder and cervical cancers. It also increases your risk of heart disease.

4. Take aim at breast cancer. Perform monthly breast self examination, starting in your 20’s. It’s the first step toward detecting breast cancer in its early, most curable stages. Get a breast exam. The ACS recommends a breast exam yearly for women 40 and older and every 3 years for women 20 to 39. If you are under 40 and at risk for breast cancer due to a family history, talk to your doctor. They may recommend mammography before age 40.

5. Go with whole grains. The United States Department of Agriculture and the American Dietetic Association would like you to eat 3 servings of whole-grain foods daily. Studies show that people who consume more whole grains have a lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders and possibly some forms of cancer.

6. Seek out soy foods, such as tofu and soy milk. Studies have shown that soy protein can lower total blood cholesterol as well as LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, to reduce your risk of heart disease.

7. Limit Drinking. Women should limit their alcohol intake to one drink per day while men should limit their alcohol intake to 2 drinks per day Excessive alcohol may increase your risk for colon and rectal cancer, breast cancer, as well as stroke, osteoporosis, liver damage and creeping blood pressure.

8. Talk to you doctor about getting tested for type 2 diabetes. A fasting blood glucose test is available to detect this common chronic killer (normal levels are in the 70 to 120 mg/dl range).

9. Boost your brain power. If you work with numbers at your job, spend your spare time doing something completely different, such as reading, writing or painting. According to According to Elkhonon Goldberg, PHD, clinical professor of neurology at the NYU Medical Center in New York, diverse activities help improve connections between brain nerve cells.

10. Right size your portion sizes. To prevent overeating, get out the measuring cups and spoons for a while and brush up on your portion sizes.

11. Take a calcium supplement if you don’t get two to three servings per day of calcium rich foods that your body needs.

12. Keep stress at bay. Schedule in at least 20 minutes of daily down time. Unmanaged stress, that nagging, frazzled feeling, is associated with a host of conditions, from an increased risk of the common cold to heart disease.

Edited and compiled by Jan Beckage, Campus Nurse, SHU Wellness Center