Lifestyle changes play a major role in cancer prevention

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About two-thirds of cancers are diagnosed in the advanced stages

New Delhi, 15 December 2017: A recent research has indicated that about 40% cancer deaths can be prevented through simple lifestyle changes. The eight groups of modifiable risk factors that were examined in the research include tobacco smoke, dietary factors, alcohol consumption, being overweight or obese, physical inactivity, ultraviolet (UV) exposure, infections, and hormonal factors. The work has highlighted how cancer is not always genetic but can be acquired due to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Smoking and chewing tobacco are two of the biggest cancer risk factors. Tobacco use alone accounts for 12 lakh deaths every year. Reducing tobacco consumption can significantly decrease the global burden of 13 different types of cancers, including lung, oral cavity etc. Alcohol use has also been linked to cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, bowel, liver and breast.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, National President Indian Medical Association (IMA) and President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Dr RN Tandon – Honorary Secretary General IMA in a joint statement,said, “Cancer is a group of diseases with similar characteristics. Cancer can occur in all living cells in the body and different cancer types have different natural history. Although some rare cancers can be driven by genetic mutations, the most prevalent diseases are down to environmental and lifestyle factors. We all know that cancer, if detected early, can be treated at a much lower cost compared to that incurred when diagnosed at an advanced stage. Its mortality rate is also lowered substantially if people report for screening when the earliest symptoms manifest. Unfortunately, nearly two-thirds of cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, reducing patients’ chances of cure and survival.”

There are more than 100 different kinds of cancer. The treatment options for cancer may include chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery. However, it is imperative to make lifestyle changes an essential part of managing this condition.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, said, “Prevention and awareness are vital tools in the fight to end cancer, and they start with knowing how to nourish your body and how to develop healthy habits with lasting benefits. There are a lot options available in life and around us to help reduce our risk of cancer – beginning with some basic changes to lifestyle. Learning what influences our health gives us the power to know what to avoid and how to work towards a healthier lifestyle.”

Here are some lifestyle changes one can adopt to prevent cancerand/or manage the condition.

  • Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
  • Ensure that you get physical activity for about 30 minutes every day.
  • Avoid sugary drinks, and limit consumption of high-calorie foods, especially those low in fiber and rich in fat or added sugar.
  • Eat more of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes.
  • Limit consumption of red meats and avoid processed meats.
  • Limit your daily alcohol intake. The recommended intake is two drinks for men and one drink for women.
  • Limit consumption of salty foods and food processed with salt (sodium).
  • Don’t use supplements to try to protect against cancer.
  • After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.