How can we prevent cancer?
04th Feb, 2019
Cancer is the second highest leading cause of death worldwide. It seems it’s everywhere you look, and with one in five men and one in six women developing the disease, it’s no wonder.
However, steps can be made to prevent cancer. A key example is that 27% of all cancers relate to tobacco and alcohol use - no more than 10% of diagnoses come from genetic mutations.
What is cancer?
Cancer occurs when a body’s cell or cells become abnormal. This abnormal cell will then divide and make more abnormal cells. These cells can evolve, mutate and weaken the immune system, which is why it is unlikely, if not impossible to create one treatment that cures all cancers.
The theme for World Cancer Day 2019 (and the next three years) is ‘I am and I Will’ - a call to action asking people, whether they’re a cancer survivor, healthcare worker or business leader, to make a personal commitment to help reduce the impact of cancer.
For those who don’t work in oncology or care for cancer patients, the greatest physical step you can take in cancer prevention is caring for yourself! Experts estimate that lifestyle changes could stop roughly 40% of all cancer cases.
Here’s how you can do just that…
Steps you can take to prevent cancer
We all love having a summer glow, but for skin cancer prevention, it’s crucial you know how to enjoy the sun safely.
Stay safe in the sun by:
- Using a minimum of SPF15 with a rating of at least four stars - remembering to re-apply regularly, especially if you’re going in and out of water
- Covering up and wearing sunglasses
- Giving your skin breaks and spending time in the shade (as much as you can)
Diet and foods that prevent cancer
What you put into your body can have a massive impact on reducing your cancer risk. It helps you maintain a healthy weight and care for your internal organs, preventing their chance of becoming diseased.
The best foods to eat to prevent cancer include pulses, wholegrain foods, fruits and vegetables - essentially foods containing fibre.
Processed and red meats can increase the risk of bowel cancer, so it is best to keep these to a minimum within your diet.
Exercise goes hand in hand with diet, as keeping a healthy body weight can really lower your cancer risk. In fact, being active and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of 13 different types of cancer.
What counts as being active?
Experts recommend that adults aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week – this could be walking, swimming, dancing or even doing housework and gardening!
Alcohol can cause seven different types of cancer so cutting down is another way of preventing your risk. All forms of alcohol are equally as hazardous because it is alcohol itself that causes harm. Ultimately, the less you drink, the better your chances of remaining cancer-free.
Smoking is the world’s leading cause of cancer. In Australia, smoking is responsible for 84% of new lung cancers in men and 77% in women.
According to Cancer Research UK, smoking forms at least 15 different types of cancer!
What else can you do as a healthcare professional?
The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the leaders of World Cancer Day, asks that healthcare professionals learn the signs and symptoms of cancer to avoid misdiagnosis, and understand, as well as encourage, the value of early detection in their patients.
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