Cancer is preventable. Experts reveal how | Health - Hindustan Times

Cancer is preventable. Experts reveal how

ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi
Jan 08, 2023 02:19 PM IST

Globally approx 19.3 million cancer cases are diagnosed annually with approx 10 million deaths every year and among them 30-50% are preventable. Yes, cancer is preventable. Read on to know how, as experts reveal the top strategies to lower your risk of developing cancer or to spot it early

Cancer has been a disease of discussion for many families these days but under the carpet as people see it as a stigma and shy away discussing the same considering it as the end of the road since the diagnosis itself has implications not only personal but also social and financial. The most cost-effective way to reduce the cancer burden is to spread awareness about cancer prevention and as per the IARC Globocan 2020, globally approximately 19.3 million cancer cases are diagnosed annually with approximately 10 million deaths every year where among them 30-50% are preventable (Courtesy: WHO).

Cancer is preventable. Experts reveal how (Brett Sayles)
Cancer is preventable. Experts reveal how (Brett Sayles)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Amit Verma from Cancer Institute for personalized cancer therapy and research, shared, “Cancer is a disease of ageing and is influenced by various genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors. Few of the risk factors are modifiable ie, if you avoid them, you can reduce the chances of cancer. This process is called primary prevention. The notorious risk factors include tobacco and alcohol consumption, thus increasing the chances of various cancers including head and neck, lung, liver, bladder cancers and many more. Quitting smoking, avoiding of passive smoking, cessation of tobacco chewing and alcohol drinking in moderation can reduce the chances substantially.”

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He highlighted, “Lifestyle affecting the body weight (High Body Mass Index) and faulty eating habits can predispose individuals to breast, colon, uterine cancers, etc. Regular physical exercise, body weight reduction (Ideal BMI 18.5-24.9, Courtesy: CDC, USA) and dietary modifications like increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains while limiting the intake of non-vegetarian food especially red meat and high salty foods have a protective effect. Avoid excess sun exposure (UV rays) for skin cancer prevention. Occupational hazards including exposure to asbestos, arsenic, chromium, cadmium, aromatic amines, silica dust, radon, sulphuric mist and radioactive materials are known to be carcinogenic increasing risk of lung and bladder cancer. Use of protective gears wherever necessary are recommended. Infections including HPV, HBV, H. Pylori are known to cause cervical, liver and stomach cancer respectively. Vaccinations against HPV, HBV and use of antibiotics against H Pylori can prevent these infections. Visit your doctor to discuss these medical interventions.”

He revealed that certain people carry high-risk cancer predisposing genes and said, “These genes are transmissible to next generation (inheritable upto 50%) and are responsible for Hereditary cancers (upto 10% of all cancers, Courtesy: NCI, USA). These genetic factors are considered to be non-modifiable but identifying the at-risk individuals through counselling followed by genetic testing (Blood/ Saliva), putting them through cancer screening procedures (active surveillance), offering cancer-reducing medicines (chemoprevention) and preventive surgeries (prophylactic surgeries) is considered as secondary prevention approach. The unnecessary anxiety of cancer should be avoided as the chances of developing cancer varies greatly from person to person. You can lead a normal, healthy life by making wise decisions that will positively impact your health.”

According to Dr Aruna Kalra, Senior Gynaecologist and Obstetrician at CK Birla Hospital in Gurugram, cancer prevention is the practise of reducing the likelihood of developing cancer. She suggested, “This can involve leading a healthy lifestyle, avoiding contact with known carcinogens, and receiving cancer-preventing treatments or vaccinations. Changes in behaviour, such as consuming more fruits and vegetables and avoiding red meat, as well as daily use of sunscreen, can have an impact.” She revealed the top strategies to lower your risk of developing cancer or to spot it early:

1. Regular screen tests

Regular screenings may detect colorectal (colon), breast, and cervical cancers early, when treatment is most likely to be effective. For some patients at high risk, lung cancer screening is advised.

2. Vaccination shots

Vaccines (shots) aid in reducing the risk of cancer. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine aids in the prevention of many malignancies, including most cervical cancers. The hepatitis B vaccine can reduce the chance of developing liver cancer.

3. Healthy decisions

Making healthy decisions like maintaining a healthy weight, abstaining from cigarette use, consuming alcohol in moderation, and taking care of your skin can lower your risk of developing cancer.

4. Practice safe sex

The human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause at least four more cancers in addition to cervical cancer, including oropharyngeal cancer, which affects the tonsils and base of the tongue. Using a condom correctly each time you have sex will help protect you against HPV because it can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse, but it won't completely prevent you. People can contract hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses through intercourse or blood. Long-term liver infections brought on by the hepatitis B or C viruses can raise your risk of developing liver cancer. To lessen your risk of hepatitis B or C and liver cancer, stay away from dangerous activities and engage in safer sexual practises.

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