Cancer is the cause of almost every eighth death in the world. According to WHO, 9.6 million people have died in 2018 from various cancers. Cancer ranks second after cardiovascular disease among the leading causes of death. Almost a third of deaths due to cancer are caused by an unhealthy lifestyle and diet. Therefore, WHO has developed a European Cancer Code, which will help reduce the risk of cancer by 50%. The Center for Public Health talks about the major risk factors and the prevention of cancer.
Tobacco use is a major risk factor for cancer: it accounts for almost 22% of cancer deaths worldwide. Smoking is associated with the development of various types of cancer – lungs, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidneys. Even if you do not smoke alone, the secondhand smoke exposure can increase your risk of lung cancer.
Consume healthy food
A balanced diet can reduce the risk of disease, although there is no conclusive data on certain products that help prevent cancer.
Healthy eating recommendations :
- eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods such as whole grains and beans;
- avoid excess body weight – eat lighter and leaner, choose less calorie foods, exclude refined sugar, trans fats, fast food;
- drink alcohol in moderation – the risk of developing various cancers, including cancer of the colon, breast, lungs, kidneys and liver, increases with the amount of alcohol consumed;
- limit the consumption of processed meat – WHO reports that consuming large amounts of such meat may increase the risk of some cancers.
Numerous studies have shown that women who adhere to the Mediterranean diet with the addition of olive oil and nuts can reduce their risk of breast cancer. This diet includes a significant amount of plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. People who follow the Mediterranean diet choose healthy fats – olive oil, oil and fish instead of red meat.
Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active
Maintaining a healthy body weight can reduce the likelihood of various cancer, including breast, prostate, lung, colon, and kidney cancers. People who exercise regularly have certain health benefits. But at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week are required for substantial benefit. As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day in your schedule.
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers, and at the same time it is relatively easy to prevent. Just follow a few recommendations:
- avoid direct sunlight in the afternoon, especially from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm in the summer, when the sun’s radiation is strongest;
- sunglasses and a hat will help protect your head;
- cover open areas of the body with clothing that covers as much of the skin surface as possible, choosing bright or dark colors that reflect more ultraviolet radiation than pastel or bleached cotton;
- use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, even on cloudy days – do not damage the cream and reapply every two hours or more if you swim or sweat;
- Avoid tanning beds – they are as harmful as natural sunlight.
Make a vaccination
Up to 25% of cancer cases in low- and middle-income countries (which, unfortunately, belongs to Ukraine) are caused by infections such as hepatitis and human papilloma virus (HPV) . Cancer prevention includes protection against these viral infections. Ask your doctor about vaccination.
Hepatitis B may increase the risk of liver cancer. HBV vaccination is recommended for adults at the following risk groups:
- sexually active polygamous people;
- with sexually transmitted infections;
- those who use drugs intravenously;
- men who have sex with men.
Also at risk are health and public safety personnel who may come in contact with infected blood or other body fluids.
Human papillomavirus is sexually transmitted and can lead to cancer of the cervix and other genitals, as well as to squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and boys ages 11-12.
Avoid risky behaviour
Another effective cancer prevention tactic is avoiding risky behaviours that can lead to infections that increase the likelihood of developing cancer.
1. Practice safe sex. Limit the number of sexual partners and use condoms during sex. The more sexual partners you have in your life, the more likely you are to contract a sexually transmitted infection.
2. People living with HIV or AIDS are at a higher risk of anus, liver and lung cancer.
3. Human papillomavirus is most commonly associated with cervical cancer, but it can also increase the risk of cancer of the anus, penis, throat, vulva and vagina.
4. People who use drugs intravenously are advised not to use used needles. Sharing needles with people who use intravenous drugs can lead to HIV infection, as well as hepatitis B and C, which increases the risk of liver cancer.
See your doctor regularly for a preventive checkup
Regular self-examinations and screenings for different types of cancer increase the chances of early detection of the disease, which increases the effectiveness of treatment and reduces its cost. Talk to your doctor about the best onscreen screening schedule for you. Mindfulness and reducing risk factors significantly reduce the likelihood of cancer. When it is not possible to avoid ailments, giving up bad habits will increase the effectiveness of treatment and help improve well-being. The Centre for Public Health recalls that only prevention, screening, timely detection and treatment of cancer will help to achieve significant positive results in the fight against this problem.