How women can help prevent cancer

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, learn how women can help reduce the burden of cancer on the society.
Women being the ‘kitchen queens’ can adopt healthy dietary practices not only for themselves, but also their families, says expert.(Pexels)
Women being the ‘kitchen queens’ can adopt healthy dietary practices not only for themselves, but also their families, says expert.(Pexels)
Updated on Mar 08, 2020 07:24 AM IST
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ByBy Dr. Jyoti Wadhwa

Women are homemakers and architects of the society. They are leaders in various fields and have contributed to healthcare as well. I feel that every woman can also help in the prevention of cancer. It is overall better and economically advantageous to teach people about the prevention of illnesses rather than helping them recover from these. After all, prevention is better than cure!

Cancer is a major public health problem globally. The common cancers affecting Indian women are that of the breast, cervix, and mouth. Common cancers affecting Indian men are that of the lung, head, and neck. Most of these cancers are dependent on lifestyle. In fact, almost a third of them are related to tobacco. Fortunately, a significant proportion of these sufferings can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle, of which, diet is a major component.

Dr. Jyoti Wadhwa
Dr. Jyoti Wadhwa

A longitudinal study published in 2009 reported that just by adhering to four simple healthy lifestyle factors, there was a 36% lower risk of cancer compared to those who had none of these factors. These factors were—never smoking, having a BMI (body mass index) less than 30, doing at least 3.5 hours a week of physical activity, eating sufficient fruits, vegetables, and whole grain bread, and avoiding excess meat.

Research over the past many decades has suggested an association between diet and cancer. This association gets complicated by the way food is stored, preserved, cooked and consumed.

Women being the ‘kitchen queens’ can adopt healthy dietary practices not only for themselves, but also their families.

They can also ensure adherence to these steps to further reduce the risk of colorectal cancer:

•Abstaining from tobacco and alcohol.

•Eating food and not supplements.

•Eating at least 5 servings of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables every day

•Avoiding eat refined or processed food such as white flour (maida), refined sugar, excessive salt, processed food and meat, or excess of red meat.

•Avoiding fried food and hydrogenated oils.

•Avoiding eating food and drinks that are at a very hot temperature.

•Detoxing your body using herbs (tulsi), spices (turmeric, garlic, etc.), and fasting intermittently.

•Exercising daily.

•Maintain a healthy weight throughout life.

•Adopting safe sexual practices.

•Getting vaccinated against HPV and Hepatitis B virus.

•Avoiding environmental toxins such as asbestos.

•Seeking medical guidance immediately in case of any suspicious symptoms and undergoing cancer screening as per recommendations of the oncologist.

So, all you powerful women out there—take charge of reducing the burden of cancer on the society!

Know more about colorectal cancer here.

This article has been written by Dr. Jyoti Wadhwa, MD (Medicine, A.I.I.M.S.), DM (Medical Oncology, A.I.I.M.S.) Commonwealth Scholar (Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK). Director in Department of Medical Oncology, Medanta -The Medicity Hospital, Gurgaon. It aims to raise awareness on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

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Thursday, June 30, 2022