According to WHO, Cancers is among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with approximately 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer related deaths in 2012. The number of new cases is expected to rise by about 70% over the next 2 decades.
Around one third of cancer deaths are due to the 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks, namely, high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, alcohol use. Tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer causing around 20% of global cancer deaths and around 70% of global lung cancer deaths.
“Unhealthy lifestyle habits can play a major role in the development of cancer. Contrary to popular belief, cancer is not inevitable. A person has more control over the disease than they might think. A simple change in lifestyle can go a long way in preventing cancers,” said Dr. Neelesh Reddy, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Columbia Asia Hospitals.
While some factors are beyond our control, here are a few healthy lifestyle habits by Dr. Neelesh that can help lower cancer risk.
Avoid smoking or exposure to smoke
The most important lifestyle choice you can make to cut down your cancer risk by half is to quit smoking. Smoking is responsible for not only lung cancer, but many other types as well. Not exposing yourself to second–hand smoke is also another way to prevent cancer.
Practice sun safety
By simply using a good sunscreen throughout the day is enough to reduce your risk of skin cancer drastically. Avoid exposure to UV rays as much as possible, by avoiding the mid-day sun and wearing protective clothing when outdoors.
Include fruits and veggies into your diet
A well balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants, can help repair damaged cells. Green, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables contain the highest amount of antioxidants and are a great way to prevent cancer.
Think before you drink
Studies suggest that men who consume two alcoholic drinks per day and women who have one alcoholic drink per day significantly increase their risk factors for certain type of cancers.
Exercise for cancer prevention
It is suggested that a person must exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, for at least 5 days a week. Apart from burning away those extra calories, it also boosts a person’s morale by releasing endorphins, the feel good hormone.
Swap sugary drinks like cola or lemonade for water or unsweetened tea or coffee to help reduce your weight, and thus your cancer risk.
Know your risk factors at your work place
There are certain chemicals that are carcinogenic in nature. Constant exposure to these chemicals can increase your risk of developing cancer. Fumes, dust, chemicals like diesel exhaust, arsenic, beryllium, vinyl chloride, nickel chromates, coal products, mustard gas, and chloromethyl ethers are all carcinogens and can be found in some work environments. If you are exposed to any of these chemicals be sure to talk to your doctor about how you can stay safe.
Get annual health check ups
Screening for cancer and getting an annual health check-up helps in not only catching the disease early but also may help in preventing various other lifestyle diseases. Screening tests like a colonoscopy and Pap smear can detect abnormal cellular changes before they turn cancerous, but they are only effective if done regularly.