New Delhi: Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, and was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is estimated that nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer globally, clearly indicating it is now a rising problem across the world. But research suggests that cancer is a preventable disease and only five percent of cancers are hereditary. That means the lifestyle choices we make, the foods we eat, and our physical activity levels can have a direct impact on our overall cancer risk.
World Cancer Day, observed each year on 4 February, is the one singular initiative under which the entire world can unite together in the fight against the global cancer epidemic. Taking place under the tagline ‘We can. I can.’, World Cancer Day 2016-2018 explores how everyone – as a collective or as individuals – can do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer. The global event aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about cancer and pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action against the disease. The primary goal of the World Cancer Day is to significantly reduce illness and death caused by cancer by 2020.
In India, cancer is the second biggest killer after heart disease and the trend is rising at an alarming pace with over 10 lakh new cases of cancer diagnosed in the country every year. As per a report by Indian Council of Medical Research, India is likely to see over 17.3 lakh new cases of cancer and over 8.8 lakh deaths due to the disease by 2020 with cancers of breast, lung, and cervix topping the list. In 2012, over 60,000 deaths in India were caused by cancer.
Around one-third of deaths from cancer are due to the five leading behavioral and dietary risks, such as high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use. Thus, it’s well-accepted that your chances of developing cancer are affected by the lifestyle choices you make. Why not take steps to prevent or reduce your risk for cancer now? Consider these five cancer prevention steps:
Avoid tobacco use
Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of cancer, including many other non-communicable diseases. Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer – including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Second-hand smoke causes lung cancer in non-smoking adults. Smokeless tobacco also called chewing tobacco, causes oral, oesophageal and pancreatic cancer.
Eat a healthy diet
Opt for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans which are loaded with nutrients. Cut down on refined sugars and fats from animal sources. Also, cut down on processed meat as eating large amounts of it may increase the risk of certain types of cancer.
A Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts has been linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer in women.
Drink in moderation
If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing some cancers – particularly cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, bowel, liver, and breast.
Stay active and maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight may put you at a higher risk of getting cancer. Maintain a healthy weight through a combination of diet and exercise. Exercising regularly can reduce your risk for cancer. Experts recommend that one should exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week – at least five days a week.
Regular medical care
While following all these simple rules for your health, ensure that you get regular medical care. Regular self-exams and screenings for various types of cancers may help you in discovering cancer early. Detecting and treating cancer early can save lives. You may ask your doctor about the best cancer screening schedule for you based on your risk factors or age.
So, if you’re concerned about cancer prevention, start taking steps today. It will make a big difference, perhaps, the rewards will last a lifetime.