What can we do to prevent cancer??? This is one of the commonest questions asked to us by many people and especially relatives of cancer patients. The answer to this question is – Yes!! We can definitely reduce the risk of cancer by following few simple tips.
About 30- 50 % cancers are preventable since they are closely related to our lifestyle. The common cancers which can be prevented include-
Breast Cancer ,Cervical Cancer,Colon Cancer,Liver cancer,Oral Cancer,skin Cancer
Let us see few simple tips which will help you to reduce your risk of cancer development:
1) Avoid Tobacco- Consumption of tobacco in any form either smoking or smokeless is the single most important cause of many cancers in India. Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer — including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas. Even if you don't use tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke might increase your risk of lung cancer. Quitting tobacco is the most important step towards cancer prevention. If you need help quitting tobacco, ask your doctor about stop-smoking products and other strategies for quitting.
2) Eat Healthy diet- a healthy diet can not only keep you fit but also help you to reduce risk of cancers like colon cancers and stomach cancers.
a) Eat more fruits and vegetables- Fresh fruits are rich in antioxidants and vegetables and fiber rich food helps to reduce risk of cancers.
b) Limit processed meat- High consumption of processed meat has been shown to increase risk of certain cancers.
c) Limit /avoid alcohol- Alcohol inself has been shown to be responsible for increasing risk of certain cancers like Liver cancer,
3) Maintain Healthy weight and physical activity- Apart from protecting your heart, a modest amount of exercise can help you to prevent obesity which is shown to be indirectly associated with increased risk of Breast Cancer, endometrial cancer, Colon Cancer, Ovarian cancer. A simple brisk walking for 30 minutes a day is what is recommended. Maintaining ideal body weight will definitely help in long run to reduce risk of many other diseases as well!!
4) Get Vaccinated- Some cancers are associated with infections. Getting vaccinated against these infections can indirectly prevent these cancers.
a) One of the most common cause of Hepatocellular carcinoma is Hepatitis B infection. Hepatitis B vaccine is available and can protect you from acquiring Hepatitis B and thus reduce the risk of HCC.
b) Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is associated with development of cervical cancer in females as well as head and neck cancers. HPV vaccine is now available for both girls and boys. Please contact your gynaecologist or oncologist for suitable age for vaccination.
5) Avoid unnecessary sun exposure- Unnecessary and prolonged exposure to strong sunlight for years is an important risk factor for development of skin cancer. Hence as far as possible avoid unnecessary exposure to strong sunlight and skin tanning. Appropriate use of sunscreens with SPF more than 30 may also help.
6) Avoid High risk behaviours- Risky and unsafe behaviours like unsafe sexual practices can increase risk of infections like Hepatitis B,HIV, HPV which in long run can increase your risk of cancer. Also sharing needles and unsafe blood transfusions increases risk of transmission of infections. Please stay away from risky behaviours and protect you and your family as well!
7) Know about your family history- Some cancers like Breast cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Colon Cancer can be sometimes hereditary i.e they can be passed on to next generations or close relatives. It is worthwhile that you are aware of any history of multiple cancers in family or close relatives. In such cases you can discuss with oncologist about possible hereditary cancers and if indicated can get genetic counseling and testing done. In certain hereditary cancers, certain prophylactic medicines or surgeries can prevent development of cancers in future.
8) Follow cancer screening guidelines- Simple cancer screening tests like self breast examination, mammography, PAP smear can help to diagnose breast and cervical cancers even in precancerous stages and appropriate treatment at earliest stages can prevent development into actual cancers.
Best treatment of cancer is to prevent it !!
Lets spread this awareness and stay away from cancer!!!