The worst cancer risk factors

We asked top cancer experts to rank the risks on a scale of 1 to 10. Turns out we're probably worrying about the wrong things.
© Self // © Self

9.5: Smoking

Tobacco is responsible for 80 percent of lung cancer deaths in American women and increases your risk for cervical, pancreatic, kidney and oral cancers. Quit now -- after 10 years, your risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half.

1 of 19 Woman smoking (CN Digital Studio)

8.9: Your Age

Seventy-seven percent of cancers are diagnosed in people older than 55. The effects of aging on your cells combined with bad behavior and outside factors take their toll. You can't freeze time, but you can adopt healthy habits today.

2 of 19 Candles in cake (CN Digital Studio)

8.9: The Sun's Rays

About 65 percent of incidents of the deadliest form of skin cancer -- melanoma -- are directly caused by UV radiation from the sun. When enjoying the beams, please, sunscreen.

3 of 19 Sunscreen (CN Digital Studio)

7.8: Genetics

Yes, genes are powerful, but only 5 to 10 percent of cancers are genetic. And even if you do have a family history, good habits may "turn off" bad genes through the epigenome, a system of DNA-related chemicals. Take that, double helix.

4 of 19 Petri dish (CN Digital Studio)

7.4: STDs

HPV and hepatitis B are linked to certain cancers, and HIV could indirectly raise your risk. Ask your doc about HPV and hepatitis vaccines. (And, P.S., a condom wouldn't hurt.)

5 of 19 Condom (CN Digital Studio)

6.6: Obesity

By raising the level of hormones circulating through your body, excess fat seems to create a cozy home for cancer growth. Drop some pounds; lower your risk.

6 of 19 Scale (CN Digital Studio)

5.6: Alcohol

Yes, a bit of booze can help your heart and brain. But (sucky-health-fact alert) only one glass a day slightly raises breast cancer risk, and more is worse. Weigh the choices with your M.D.

7 of 19 Alcoholic drink (Devon Jarvis)

5.3: Diet

We love hot dogs and bacon. But truth: Red and processed meats may raise your risk for colorectal cancer. Plus, sugary drinks are so highly associated with obesity that they could indirectly bump up your cancer risk.

8 of 19 Hamburger (Romulo Yanes)

5.0: Inactivity

Getting your heart pumping can lower your chances of getting colon, breast, lung and even endometrial cancer. Aim for 150 moderate minutes or 75 vigorous minutes per week. If you happen to lose weight, even better.

9 of 19 Running shoes (CN Digital Studio)

4.3: The Pill

Birth control with estrogen may lower risk for ovarian and endometrial cancers, but it raises it slightly for breast cancer. When you choose to go off, the risk drops.

10 of 19 Birth control pills (CN Digital Studio)