Every February, Cancer Prevention Month is marked worldwide, raising awareness for the various types of cancers that affect millions of people every year. Here are some ways you can take part, by learning more about prevention, and supporting the cause.
Each type of cancer comes with its own risk factors, but there are several common ones between them. By taking note, you can reduce your risk of cancer, and others’ too.
1) Quit smoking
The most obvious link between smoking and cancer is lung cancer. Almost 90% of all lung cancer is smoking related; by smoking, you not only affect your own lungs, but also the lungs of the people around you (known as secondhand smoking.) Smoking is also considered the most preventable cause of cancer. Even more dangerously, it is also linked to other respiratory cancers, like mouth and throat, but beware: it has proven a risk factor in colon, cervical, stomach, and many other cancers as well. Plus, it can damage your immune system, making you more prone to cancer in general, amongst other conditions. Not smoking at all would be the ideal situation, but quitting at any point can massively reduce its risks.
2) Consume a balanced diet
A balanced diet typically consists of largely fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates, proteins, limited fats, and various nutrients and vitamins. Certain elements in a healthy diet, like antioxidants, can actually have risk reducing effects, so make sure to intake foods high in these, such as berries (like cranberries, goji berries, and strawberries), as well as pecans and kale.
Limit the amount of ‘unhealthy’ foods you take in. Unhealthy foods, in this context, are those that raise your blood pressure or body weight excessively. Of course, don’t cut them out completely; simply balance them with healthy counterparts. Too much fat – like that in many oils and margarine, alongside processed meat – can make you more prone to cancer. They can also cause other diseases, like COPD and diabetes, which increase your risk. Keeping your body healthy can significantly reduce your chances of contracting cancer.
3) Limit alcohol consumption
Like smoking, alcohol is one of the most preventable risk factors of cancer. An overconsumption can severely damage various organs, leading to kidney, liver, and stomach cancers. Alongside this, the immune system is damaged, and other health problems can occur, which further higher chances of cancer. A healthy amount of alcohol is around 1 glass per day for women, and 2 per day for men.
4) Maintain a healthy weight
This links in with a balanced diet; regular exercise can reduce blood pressure and other similar conditions, as well as decrease your overall cancer risk, according to doctors. Being overweight has the opposite effect, and can also increase your chance of contracting diabetes, which is a risk factor.
5) Reduce exposure to harmful UV light
The main source for this is sunlight. That’s not to say you should avoid sunlight, but ensure you’re adequately protected, since UV rays from the sun are a major cause of skin cancer. Protective sunscreen, of a high SPF – SPF 100 – can help reduce this risk, and wearing protective clothing to cover the skin can do so as well.
6) Watch out for infection
Vaccinations are key when it comes to cancer prevention. They play a key role in protecting your immune system from infections that can make you cancer-prone. All pathogens that affect your immune response should be vaccinated against, but the most important ones of all are HIV, hepatitis, HPV, and similar vaccines. They can majorly damage your body and increase your risk, so ensuring you are vaccinated, and vaccinated properly, is crucial. These viruses can also be transmitted quickly between people, so practice safe sex in order to keep them at bay.
7) Check for symptoms
Different types of cancer have different symptoms, though many overlap with other conditions, so it can be difficult to identify something as a cancer very early. Despite this, there are some common symptoms to keep an eye out for, like prolonged redness, the presence of lumps, prolonged sharp pains, and ulcers. By keeping track of potential symptoms, you can make it easier to identify cancer before the advanced stages and seek a more efficient, and faster, treatment plan.
8) Get yourself tested
Regular screenings are probably the best way to identify cancer as quickly as possible. Visit your local GP or cancer specialist to discuss a screening plan, and when to begin, since an earlier cancer (or benign tumour) diagnosis means an earlier, and often more effective, treatment. At www.cancerx.co.in, you can learn more about available screenings and what they can do for you.
What else can I do?
The most critical action you can take is spreading awareness. There are a lot of myths about cancer that must be corrected, so share resources and information wherever you can: be it with your family, friends, social media followers, or anyone else. Read up about cancer signs and symptoms, look out for yourself, and for others. Advocate for a more comprehensive cancer education; cancer rates in younger children are rising, so make sure to inform your kids about the risks and complications.
Partake in preventative measures, and encourage the people around you to as well. Spread the word – speak up for eating healthy and staying healthy to diminish preventable cancer rates as much as possible. Set yourself challenges, or involve the household in balancing your diet or staying active.
You can also donate to cancer charities and research organisations, like the Indian Cancer Society, Cope With Cancer, The Cancer Society, and others to help support more research on cancer, and fund affordable cancer treatment for all.
Make a change this Cancer Prevention Month, and keep yourself, your friends, and your family safe. Don’t forget to wear a purple ribbon to signify your cancer awareness!
Get an expert opinion on your cancer diagnosis now! Visit www.cancerx.co.in/medical_query/.