Anybody who knows a cancer patient, in the family or otherwise, knows that the battle with this disease is an arduous one, draining one both physically, mentally and financially.
Every year, more than 8.8 million people lose their battle with cancer all over the world. The high mortality rate and prevalence in recent times, has made cancer a global healthcare concern—so much so that the World Health Organisation is finding ways to identify and fight preventable forms of cancer.
WHO states that the most cost-effective and sustainable plan, in the long run, is to raise awareness regarding preventive strategies of cancer, and reduce people’s exposure to risk factors. This can be especially beneficial for a developing country like ours which is hindered by a limited healthcare budget, lack of oncologists, and a burgeoning population. So let us first learn about what exactly causes cancer, and how it occurs.
What is cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) cancer is a group of diseases that occur due to the unregulated growth of one type of cells in the body. These cells escape check by the immune regulator cells and thus grow uncontrolled and spread to other organs.
The stimulation for growth is provided by the risk factors for cancer that we are going to talk about, shortly. In fighting preventable cancer, it must be kept in mind that if external stimulators and risk factors are removed, then certain cancers can be averted.
Risk factors for cancer:
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) about 30 to 50 percent of all cancers are preventable. There are certain risk factors that are notorious for causing cancer, such as:
- Hepatitis B and C
- Papilloma virus
- Alcohol consumption
- Physical inactivity
- Poor diet
Each of the aforementioned risk factors is associated with multiple types of cancers. Thus eliminating them will have a positive impact on lifestyle and decrease the risk of disease as well.
How to prevent cancer?
Some cancers present with overt signs and symptoms thus making diagnosis difficult. The ACS suggests going to the healthcare provider for a thorough checkup if there is unexplained weight loss, fatigue, fever, changes in bowel habits, unusual bleeding or discharge. The signs are not limited to these only, but any significant change in the body should be reported to the doctor.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in cancer-fighting agents. They contain antioxidants, that reverse oxidative stress and damage in the body and phytochemicals that play a significant role in fighting cancer. Coloured fruits and vegetables like oranges, watermelon, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, apple, grapes, cherries and berries are some examples. They strengthen the immune system by inhibiting cell growth, fight carcinogens and decrease inflammation.
Avoid cancer-causing agents:
This is not a difficult task per se, but the increased use of plastic in the environment, and adulterated food ingredients make avoiding carcinogens difficult. Increased use of organic food items and reliable vendors should help address this problem. Furthermore, it is important to stop smoking—actively and passively, stop tobacco use, as well as alcohol use.
Pakistan is a country with one of the highest loads of hepatitis b and c. This could be attributed to the unprecedented use of syringes and blood transfusions without screening.
Chronic cases of hepatitis have a high risk of developing hepatocellular cancer. Similarly, human papilloma virus (HPV) is a cause of cervical cancer. Vaccines are available for some serotypes of HPV and hepatitis B that can reduce the risk of these cancers.
In conclusion, it must be remembered that cancer is not an unpreventable disease. There are ways to equip your body with exercise and healthy diet so that the body itself fights inflammatory changes and haywire growth factors.
If you need to know more about your risks of cancer then book an appointment with a top oncologist in Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.