National Cancer Prevention Month -February 2023
National Cancer Prevention Month - February 2023
February marks National Cancer Prevention Month. Cancer has been claiming lives for years. One of the most common non-communicable diseases, cancer, has been the leading cause of deaths globally. In 2020, nearly 10 million deaths were reported due to cancer. Now, anyone can get cancer, and there are no exact ways of preventing it. This is because the exact causes of cancer remain unknown. However, there are various known risk factors of cancer that may increase a person's likelihood of developing cancer. Reducing and preventing these risk factors may be helpful in preventing or reducing the risk of cancer.
This blog will help us in learning about the ways to reduce the risk of developing cancer
Risk Factors Of Cancer
Before learning the ways to reduce the risks of developing cancer, let's discuss the various risk factors that may increase an individual’s risk of developing cancer. The various cancer risk factors include the following,
- Family history
- Smoking and tobacco use
- Alcohol consumption
- Exposure to some chemicals
- Infections caused by certain viruses (like human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B and C virus)
- Long-term, unprotected UV light exposure or exposure to radiation
- Unhealthy diet and eating habits
- Lack of physical activity
Ways To Reduce The Risk Of Developing Cancer
1. Stop Smoking And Using Tobacco Products
Tobacco use, whether through smoking or chewing, has been linked to several types of cancer, including lungs, mouth, voice box, throat, pancreas, kidney, cervix, and bladder. Even exposure to secondhand smoke can raise the risk of lung cancer. To reduce the risk of developing cancer, avoiding or quitting tobacco is crucial. To quit smoking and consuming tobacco, help can be taken from a healthcare provider, as they can offer support and resources to help individuals quit, such as stop-smoking products and other quitting methods.
2. It Is Important To Get Vaccinated
To reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, like cervical and genital cancers, it's important to protect against viral infections. This can be done by getting vaccinated. Vaccinations are available for the following viruses that, when taken, may help in reducing the risk of certain types of cancer,
- Hepatitis B: This virus can increase the risk of liver cancer. High-risk groups for contracting hepatitis B include those with multiple sexual partners, those with a partner who has multiple partners, people with STIs, drug users, and healthcare/public safety workers who may come in contact with infected blood or bodily fluids.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV): It is a sexually transmitted virus that can increase a person's risk of developing cervical cancer, genital cancers, and head and neck squamous cell cancers.
Diet is one factor that can be altered to reduce cancer risk. Research has shown that certain foods, such as processed meats, red meat, deep-fried foods, salted fish, sugar-sweetened drinks, fast food, and hot beverages, may increase the likelihood of developing cancer. Avoiding regular intake of these foods may help in reducing the risk of cancer.
To reduce the risk of cancer, it is important to incorporate a high intake of fruits and vegetables into the diet. Plant-based foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes can be added to the daily diet. Choosing low-calorie options and limiting consumption of high-calorie foods is equally essential. Additionally, avoiding excessive consumption of refined sugars and animal-based fats is important.
4. Maintaining A Healthy Weight And Staying Physically Active
Obesity has been linked with an increased risk of several types of cancer, including kidney, pancreatic, breast, ovarian, esophagus, colon, thyroid, multiple myeloma, and uterus. Being obese also raises the likelihood of developing severe health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. In addition, obesity can cause chronic inflammation and hormonal imbalances, which may further increase the risk of cancer.
A healthy weight can be maintained by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. A lack of physical activity can also cause obesity. Hence, it is important to be active. You can try brisk walking, jogging, yoga, swimming, cycling, or any other exercise you like to maintain a healthy weight.
5. Avoid Risky Behaviors
Avoiding risky behaviors is another strategy for preventing cancer. Practicing safe sex by limiting the number of sexual partners and using condoms can help reduce the risk of developing cancer. Avoid sharing needles since using shared needles can lead to HIV and hepatitis B and C, which are known to raise the risk of liver cancer.
6. Protect Yourself From The Harmful Rays Of The Sun
Skin cancer happens to be one of the most common and preventable forms of cancer. To reduce your risk of skin cancer, follow these tips,
- Avoid being in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m where the UV light.
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 and reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating
- Seek shade from sun and wear protective clothing, such as a hat and sunglasses, to cover your skin
- Avoid using tanning beds or sunlamps
7. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Drinking too much alcohol increases the chances of developing certain cancers, such as mouth, liver, throat, and colon cancers. Heavy alcohol consumption also elevates the risk of breast cancer in women. Additionally, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption combined amplify the risk of various alcohol-related cancers.
8. Get Regular Screenings Done
Early detection is the key to treat cancer successfully and it can be done by regular self-examinations and getting screened for cancers such as breast, skin, colon, and cervix. Additionally, regular screenings are even more important for people with a family history of cancer.
Together, We Can Fight Cancer
Cancers can happen to anyone. Reducing the risk factors is a great way of reducing the risk of developing cancers. It is important to educate our family and friends about the various risk factors of cancer. This National Cancer Prevention Month 2023, take an oath to spread awareness among your kith and kin about the various cancer risk factors and the importance of getting regular screenings done. Encourage the people you know to get screened for cancer, especially if they have a family history as it is better to be safe than sorry.