World Cancer Day : Cancer Prevention, What Can you Do?

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4 Feb 2014

Cancer PatientToday 04 February is World Cancer Day.

Cancer Prevention: What Can you Do?

Partly because of the dramatic portrayal of cancer in the movies of yesteryears, and partly because of plain lack of information, cancer is commonly viewed as a health calamity, an “Act of God” that can strike anyone at anytime. The problem with this perception is that we do not give serious thought to cancer prevention because we do not see how our lifestyle choices and level of awareness may impact our risk. Scientific research has been able to identify cancer risk factors that are within our control. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 40% of all cancer cases are in fact preventable.  More importantly, early detection is possible in a large number of cases which greatly increases the chances of successful treatment.  Here is an overview of the most common cancers and what you can do to reduce your risk or ensure early detection.

The burden of Cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in developed countries after cardiovascular diseases. But in no way should it be thought of as a disease of the affluent. It ranks among the top three causes of death in low and middle income countries.  In 2004, 7.4 million people died of cancer. In spite of medical advances, cancer is on the rise and cancer deaths may rise to more than 11 million in 2030.  Lung cancer is the single largest killer among all cancers and a large part of it occurs because of tobacco use.

Is Cancer Preventable?

leading causes of cancer

Cancer prevention is possible because the occurrence of most common cancers has been linked to risk factors that are within our control. More than 90% of oral cancer cases that occur are directly linked to tobacco use, something that can certainly be avoided. In fact, tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of cancer in the world. There is also definitive evidence of an association between obesity and some cancers, such as those of breast in postmenopausal women, and cancer of the uterus and colon. Excessive alcohol use and potentially preventable infections such as Hepatitis B and HPV can cause cancer.  By making the right lifestyle choices, you can certainly decrease your risk of falling prey to cancer. The best part is that these same lifestyle measures also offer protection against cardiovascular diseases and should thus be looked upon as the keys to healthy and long life.

Steps you can take to prevent Cancer

cancer test

  • Quit tobacco in all forms, smoking as well as smokeless (pan, gutkha etc.).
  • Have alcohol in moderation. Not more than 2 drinks a day for men or 1 for women.
  • Adopt a physically active lifestyle. At least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.
  • Consume a healthy diet with limited red meat and saturated fat and more fiber
  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis B.
  • Protect yourself from HPV infection through safe sexual practices. Women may consider vaccination.
  • Though skin cancer is rare, sunscreen is advised to protect skin from UV radiation.
  • Avoid risk of occupational exposure to chemicals and radiation through taking necessary precautions.

risk factors with cancer 

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