Over 11,57,294 lakh people are diagnosed with cancer every year in India alone.
The statistics look grim and they seem to be evolving faster than we do. As per Dr. Akshay Karpe, specialist in blood and bone marrow cancers, Sunriseoncocare, there is an alarming increase in breast cancer and ovarian cancers, especially, in young women in urban areas.
That being said, over 30 to 50% of them are preventable.
While your family history of cancer is definitely a factor, there are things you can do to prevent its onset or catch it early. Here are 6 things you can do to prevent cancer:
1.Using tobacco: While using any kind of tobacco is harmful, about 90% of all cancers are related to smoking. Smoking and tobacco products have been linked to a large number of cancers including, lung, colorectal, breast, throat, cervical, bladder, mouth and esophageal. Even non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke are at a high risk of lung cancer and other respiratory ailments.(1)
Solution: Quit smoking or use of other tobacco products. If you live with non-smokers, avoid smoking around them.
2. Drinking: As per the Havard Health Publishing, consuming alcohol excessively increases your risk of cancers of the mouth, larynx, esophagus, liver and colon. In women, it increases the risk of breast cancer(2). To make matters worse, if you smoke and drink your chances of suffering from an alcohol-induced malignancies skyrocket.
Solution: If you choose to drink, limit yourself to an average of one drink a day.
3. Risky sexual behavior: Having unprotected sex with unfamiliar partners or people with preexisting sexually transmitted diseases, puts you at a very high risk of cancer. A number of studies suggest that an infection with the hepatitis viruses, HIV, and certain high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause cervical cancer in women. In the case of men, HPV infection can lead to the development of penile cancers. HPV also can cause cancers of the mouth, throat, and anus in both sexes.(3)
Solution: Use protection while having sex and get vaccinated against HPV.
4. Sun exposure: While, in India, the occurrence of malignant melanoma is uncommon (occurring in less than 0.5% of the population), excessive sun exposure can lead to cancer of the skin. That being said, melanoma has been known to spread to one’s lungs leading to metastatic lesions.(4) The good news though, is that most cases of primary cutaneous malignant melanoma are cured by surgical excision.
Solution: Use a sunscreen with adequate SPF
5. Obesity and Cancer: “Obesity leads to insulin resistance which causes a variety of cell growth defects – leading to a number of cancers,” says Dr Akshay Karpe. Obesity increases the risk of many forms of cancer such as colon cancer and a more aggressive form of prostate cancer. In fact, staying physically active has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer and a woman’s risk of breast and possibly reproductive cancers. Obesity also increases the risk of breast cancer, colon cancer and ovarian cancer(5).
Solution: Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet, exercise regularly and lose weight if required.
6. Family history and cancer: As per genetic specialists between 3 and 10 in every 100 cancers (3 to 10%) diagnosed are linked to an inherited faulty gene(6). If a close member of your family has ever had either bowel, kidney, ovarian, melanoma, kidney, pancreatic, prostate, retinoblastoma, thyroid, uterus cancer, then it’s best to get screened for the presence of gene markers for these cancers.
Solution: Get screened for genetic markers of cancer-linked genes that could predispose you to common familial cancers.