Preventing cancer can be as easy as checking your lifestyle

Every other day, if you open some news site, there is news about some celebrity suffering from or dying from cancer. People who are rich enough to have the best medical treatment in the world, why do they have to suffer and die from cancer?

Every other day, if you open some news site, there is news about some celebrity suffering from or dying from cancer. People who are rich enough to have the best medical treatment in the world, why do they have to suffer and die from cancer?

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death after coronary artery disease in the developed world and its incidence is also rising in developing countries.

Cancer, once started, spreads like evil in the body, dealing devastation in any part it affects. Untreated, there is slow painful death. Curative measures like surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy only prolong life not the quality. But when detected and treated at the early stages, the individual can lead a long good quality life. It is better to prevent cancer, rather than suffer from it.

Usually, a healthy body’s immune system prevents the multiplication of cancer cells and destroys them. But humans today have reduced immune system due to lifestyle and habits. There are many risk factors which are within our control to avoid.

It is important to educate people about preventive measures, especially in developing countries where facilities for investigations and treatment are limited.

A healthy, well-balanced diet is useful in preventing cancer. Diet should include green vegetables and fresh fruits along with cereals, whole grains and fish.  Excess fats and oils should be avoided. Red meat, particularly processed one like smoked beef, ham, etc, also increase risk of cancer. Ready-to-eat fast foods have harmful chemicals which predispose one to cancer. These chemicals are the ones used as preservatives, additives, colouring or flavouring agents.

A low fibre diet predisposes one to constipation and cancer of stomach and colon.

Regular exercise is must for   prevention of cancer.

Alcohol is a risk factor for cancers of the liver, stomach, etc. Smoking leads to lung cancer. Use of tobacco in other forms is responsible for cancers of  within mouth and head and neck. 

Having sex from early age along with multiple partners predisposes a woman to develop cancer of the cervix.  Multiple pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases increase the risk.

In contrast not having children or not breast feeding them, are risk factors for breast cancer.

Stress both physical and mental reduces the immunity of the body and increases the risk of developing cancer. Keep relaxed physically as well as mentally.

Along with technological advancement, man has been exposed to many kind of carcinogens. Many chemicals were put in industrial use without realising their potential cancer producing property. Chronic exposure to lead in paints and varnish industry is associated with bladder cancer. Workers dealing with asbestos have  greater risk of developing lung cancer. People dealing with polyvinyl chloride used in manufacture of plastics have known to develop liver cancers. The responsibility lies with employers to provide the workers with suitable preventive measures.

Prolonged exposure to radiation results in cancer of exposed parts. Individuals working with X-rays should always use protective shields. The persons engaged in occupations involving  exposure to carcinogens should be screened regularly for early detection of cancer.

Excess exposure to sunlight makes one more susceptible to skin cancers. This should be avoided by using sunglasses and caps while moving out in the sun. The various kinds of, “Fairness creams”, available and used by women  increase risk of  skin cancer.

People who are HIV-positive are at a high risk of developing various kinds of cancers like lymphomas and leukemia and cancer cervix due to reduced immunity of the body.

One should be vigilant enough to pick up the early tell tale signs of cancer in the body. After all, disease like calamity can come any time.

Persistent or recurrent white patches or ulceration in the mouth should be screened for oral cancer. Hard painless lump or nodule, appearing anywhere in the body could be cancerous and should be tested for the same. Unexplained weight loss in an elderly person with no diabetes is highly suggestive of presence of cancer somewhere in the body and that needs to be searched by relevant tests.

Chronic cough with bloody expectoration, breathlessness and weight loss, in which investigations exclude an infection suggest high possibility of lung cancer.

Similarly, altered bowel habits in elderly, ie, new onset of diarrhea or constipation which is persistent is a sign of cancer of large bowel.

Self-examination of breasts is useful and economical technique to detect breast cancer at its earliest. Any lump, persistent pruritic patch or puckering of nipple or bloody discharge from nipple, should be immediately reported to the doctor and tested for cancer.

Middle aged and elderly women should be cautious about any vaginal discharge because discharge at this age could be due to cancer of cervix. Bleeding occurring six months after menopause, could be due to cancer of uterus. It is recommended that every woman after 40 years of age should regularly undergo, “Pap’s smear” (test to detect cervical cancer) annually.

This is the print version of the article we published on our web site on August 20. Visit www.newtimes.co.rw for more

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