Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Utah, as part of a continuing prgram to promote wellness, has developed seven prevention steps to help persons avoid cancer.

Dr. Knox Fitzpatrick, Jr., company vice president of medical affairs, said that while great strides have been made in the fight against cancer, it is still a leading cause of death in this country."In fact, nationally 18 percent of all deaths are attributable to cancer," he said. "Last year, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Utah spent more than $10 million in the treatment of cancer."

Fitzpatrick said the seven prevention steps do not parallel the well-known seven warning signs of cancer but emphasize the personal role each person can take to help himself from contracting this disease.

The company's seven prevention steps are:

-Don't smoke.

-Eat high-fiber foods and leafy vegetables.

-Use alcohol only in moderation.

-Avoid too much direct sunlight and use sun-blockers.

-Don't use chewing tobacco or snuff. It can be just as dangerous as smoking.

-Avoid exposure to environmental hazards such as radiation, asbestos and pollutants.

-Use self-examination techniques such as breast exams; note changes in moles, or lesions that heal slowly.

According to Fitzpatrick, people don't realize the important role they play in their own health.

"We want to educate Utahns on how important it is for them to take preventive overall health steps," the physician said. "People should educate themselves with the American Cancer Society's seven warning signs, because early detection increases the curing probability."

The society's seven cancer warning signs are: change in bowel or bladder habits; a sore that doesn't heal; unusual bleeding or discharge; thickening or lump in breast or elsewhere; indigestion or difficulty in swallowing; obvious change in wart or mole, nagging cough or hoarseness.

"Common sense should be your guide - don't panic; the warning signs serve as an alert system of possible problems," Fitzpatrick said. "If you have serious concerns, consult your doctor."