About 60% of cancers are preventable

12:11 pm Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India

Awareness generation and switching to a healthier lifestyle are key

New Delhi, 31 January 2018: A recent report indicates that the BRICS grouping of countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — are losing billions of dollars in productivity owing to cancer. India recorded a total productivity loss of $6.7 billion because of cancer, representing 0.36% of our GDP. The costs and logistical difficulties in implementing screening and treatment programmes in the BRICS countries underscore the importance of cancer prevention.

About 40% of cancers in the country (such as lung cancer and cancers of mouth) are caused by tobacco use and another 20% from infections such as hepatitis B that cause liver cancer and human papillomavirus, which can lead to cervical cancer. Cancer cases in India are rising not just because of better diagnostic facilities but also owing to the shift in the way we lead our lives.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “The burden of cancer cases in India is rising. About one million new cases of cancer occur in India every year. The most common cancer among women is breast cancer, while mouth cancer is the commonest cancer among men. About one-third of cancer deaths are related to 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks namely tobacco, high BMI, low fruit and vegetable consumption, lack of physical activity, and alcohol use. Creating awareness becomes especially important as only 12.5 per cent of patients come for treatment in early stages of the disease.”

Cancer is a class of diseases characterized by out-of-control cell growth. There are over 100 different types of cancer, and each is classified by the type of cell that is initially affected. Carcinogens are a class of substances that are directly responsible for damaging DNA, promoting or aiding cancer.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also Group Editor of IJCP, said, “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.”

Here are some lifestyle changes one can make to prevent cancer.

Avoid using tobacco in any form: 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.

Consume a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is important to prevent the risk of cancer.

Maintain a healthy weight: This can lower the risk of various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney. Physical activity every day is important to not just reduce weight but also keep fit.

Avoid risky behaviors: Habits such as unsafe sex and sharing needles can lead to infections that, in turn, might increase the risk of cancer.

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