The 4th of February is World Cancer Day. A moment dedicated to raising awareness towards this terrible disease and encouraging prevention, detection, and treatment. With more than 14 million new cases each year worldwide, and 1 in 6 global deaths attributed to cancer, it’s now more than ever necessary to shine a light on ways you can avoid becoming part of this continuously growing statistic.
There are many factors that can influence the chances of developing cancer. Many are generally out of our hands, like age or family history, others may be unintentional, like UV exposure from the Sun or certain chemicals, but there is a group of factors that are within our control. These are active elements that anyone can manage and include nutrition, healthy life practices, avoiding bad habits, being (pro)active.
Among the worst culprits that affect health in general and cancer, in particular, is tobacco usage. Smoking alone can lead to more than 16 types of cancer and accounts for a fifth of all global cancer deaths. It can be hard to quit, but consider the advantages non-smokers have: significant lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, many forms of cancer, and a greater life expectancy of about 10 years.
A proper balanced diet is actually more than you think. There are many established options to choose from, and you can try something like the Mediterranean diet or just followed general recommendations like those put forth by the American Institute for Cancer Research/World Cancer Research Fund plan. In essence, most guides advise consuming plenty of fresh (if possible) vegetables and fruit, along with protein sources consisting of fish or poultry (rather than red or processed meats), whole wheat grains and nuts. Alcohol, fast foods, and sugary products need to be limited and only had in moderation.
Physical activity should go along together with the nutrition. Maintaining an average weight and performing at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week will significantly benefit your overall health. Active people have are in general less likely of developing colon, breast or endometrial cancers (not to mention many other conditions and diseases).
It’s hard to stress just how important regular check-ups are. When it comes to cancer, early detection can substantially influence prognosis. A number of malignancies present signs before evolving into something serious.
Vaccination against HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is also essential. The American Cancer Society estimates that every year more than 31,500 men and women are diagnosed with cancers caused by HPV in the United States.
“There’s a lot you can do to get well and stay well”, notes Richard Wender, MD, Chief Cancer Control Officer for the American Cancer Society. “Avoid all tobacco products, make healthy food choices, work hard to keep your weight down, be as active as you can be, and stay up to date with a trusted primary care clinician”.
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