Cancer is one of the most frightening diseases the world has seen. It has become so common that most people are familiar with the treatments and its side effects. But, how many of us learn about ways to prevent cancer?
While many undergo treatments and survive the disease, the side effects follow them throughout their lives. Chemotherapy will result in infertility. But cancer patients do not have any other option but to choose chemotherapy. Wouldn’t it be so much better if we could dodge cancer?
The main characteristic of cancer is abnormal cell growth which has the potential to spread to other parts of the body including vital organs. There are over 100 types of cancers that can affect humans. They all have risk factors that push you closer to the disease.
In most cases, a screening will tell you if you are likely to get cancer. Cancer prevention is a new and evolving part of science. However, taking some precautions and simple changes in lifestyle will lower the risk of cancer. Here are some of the alterations that can save you from this life-threatening disease.
Any type of tobacco use will put you at risk of developing cancer. Chemicals classified as carcinogens are the top reason for cancer and tobacco contains over sixty of them known carcinogens. 22% of cancer deaths were caused by the use of tobacco. 90% of lung cancer is diagnosed in smokers. It doesn't end there. It can cause cancer in the mouth, larynx, neck, throat, stomach, bladder, kidney, oesophagus, and pancreas.
Chewing tobacco also has a similar effect. Most cancer patients who are affected by the diseases in the mouth (under the tongue or inside the cheek) had the habit of chewing tobacco products. Passive smoking is also harmful. You are inhaling as much as carcinogen-filled smoke as the smoker. The risk of cancer is not very different from those who are second-hand smokers.
If you have a healthy BMI, it will lower the risk of a few types of cancer including lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, endometrial cancer, thyroid cancer, liver cancer and gallbladder cancer. Several studies have linked obesity to higher chances of cancer. It is not a cause-effect relationship. Obesity will increase the level of insulin in the body. The insulin growth factor (formerly called somatomedin that stimulates growth) will help the cancer cells to grow. Obese postmenopausal women are prone to developing breast cancer than other women.
Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. Its risk factor is easily increased because ultraviolet radiation from the sun is a top reason. To lower the risk of cancer due to exposure to UV rays, all you have to do is protect yourself from the sun. Sunlight can hurt you as much as it is necessary for your survival. The sunlight before 8 in the morning cannot hurt you. Avoid midday sun (10 AM to 4 PM) as the sun rays are strongest during these hours.
However, it is not possible to stay inside every day. So, cover yourself as much as you can. Wear tightly woven, loose-fitting clothes. Avoid bleached cotton ad pastel colours as they do not reflect UV rays. Wear broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses during the day. Always wear sunscreen with an SPF of 50. Be generous and consistent with it. You need it during cloudy days, monsoon, and winter too.
There are infections that can lead to cancer or increase the risk of cancer. Hepatitis B can increase the risk of liver cancer. People with multiple sex partners are at risk of coming in contact with this virus. Always practice safe sex to lower the risk of hepatitis B. You should not be sharing needles also. HPV is another sexually transmitted virus that can lead to genital infection. You can also take vaccination against these viruses.
Also read: Seven Most Common Signs Of Vaginal Diseases
According to a study published in the journal JNCI Cancer Spectrum, 5% of cancer cases are caused by poor diet. Junk foods can lead to a number of health issues and colon cancer is top on the list. A diet high in processed meat, sugary beverages, and alcohol can damage the gut and lead to colorectal cancer. About 38% of colorectal cancer patients followed an unhealthy diet.
Foods with high glycaemic score can increase the risk of endometrial cancer too. Any food that is high in calories and low in micronutrients can put you in danger. Some of the foods to limit intake are burgers, fried chicken, french fries, chips, cola, pizza, pastries, cookies, and pasta. The homemade version of these foods with wholesome ingredients will not harm you.
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology says that physical inactivity increases the risk of cancer. Findings suggest that anyone who is sitting for more than three hours a day is at 11% higher risk of cancer than those with an active lifestyle. Physical inactivity has negative effects on the endocrine system and the immune system. It can lead to overnutrition and obesity. Longer sitting hours have been linked to a higher risk of cancer in women than men.
Also read: 13 Body Toning Exercises For Females
Excess intake of salt has been linked to gastric cancer and nasopharyngeal cancer. It may be due to the sodium content that nurtures the growth of a type of bacteria called Helicobacter Pylori associated with stomach cancer. People with high salt intake was at 68% higher risk of stomach cancer.
Your body doesn't need more than 5-6g of salt per day. Foods like pickled vegetables, dried fish, cured meat, sauces, condiments, seasonings, dressings, soups, pizza, and breakfast cereals are high in sodium content. Try to avoid them from your diet. If your frozen shrimp, cottage cheese, canned vegetables, or dried fish are high in salt, rinse and drain them to remove some of the salt. Packaged goods are more likely to be high in sodium. Cooking at home will give you complete control over this factor.
Also read: 10 Reasons That You Are Craving Salty Food
The age-old norm says that 'you are what you eat'. Your diet plays the most important role in your health. Many medical professionals believe that the development of cancer is heavily influenced by the food you prefer. Many foods contain compounds that can slow down the growth of cancer or prevent cancerous cells from growing. Compounds including sulforaphane, isothiocyanates, isoflavones and pomiferin are known to inhibit the activity of carcinogenic proteins. These foods are known as anti-cancer foods. Including anticancer foods regularly in your diet can lower the risk of cancer.
Broccoli is a potent vegetable when it comes to cancer prevention. It contains sulforaphane which may even kill cancerous cells. A study showed that sulforaphane can reduce the size and number of breast cancer cells by up to 75% and another animal study says that it killed prostate cancer cells along with reducing the volume of the tumour by 50%.
Carrots are also known to have anti-cancer properties which can lower the risk of stomach cancer by 26%. Foods rich in fibre helps in keeping the colon clean. People who ate beans were found to have 75% less risk of developing a colon tumour. Citrus fruits like lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits are also known for having anti-cancer properties. They can reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer and stomach cancer by 28%. You can design a balanced diet in which all these foods included twice or thrice a week. This will keep your risk of developing cancer to a minimum.
Antioxidants are known for reducing the risk of cancer as they enhance cellular health. They can protect cells from damage caused by free radicals which unstable byproduct molecules roaming around the body. Free radical damage is closely associated with cancer. Keeping them in check from an early age will reduce the risk of cancer.
When it comes to antioxidants, berries top the list. Black raspberries were found to reduce oesophageal tumour risk by 54% and blueberries were found to slow down the growth of cancer cells by 7% in merely seven days. Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins which can prevent free radical damage to DNA. They may also stimulate the self-destruction of some cancer cells.
Spices have been a consistent part of Indian cuisine. They have many health benefits including boosting immunity, curb inflammation, aid digestion, and lower blood sugar. Cinnamon and turmeric can fight against cancer too. A test-tube study suggests that cinnamon extract can not only decrease the rate at which cancer cells are spreading but induce their death as well.
Curcumin found in turmeric can target an enzyme helping the cancer cells to grow and slow down its growth. Including 2-4 gms of cinnamon and 1-3 gms of turmeric in the diet every day can lower the risk of cancer considerably.