There are many triggers for cancer; like environment, genetics and lifestyle. It might be related to genetics, environment we live in and lifestyle we choose.You can reduce risks of cancer by appropriate screening, making healthy lifestyle choices, early diagnosis and vaccinations.
- Self-Exam and screening
No type of alcohol is better or worse than the other. The lesser you drink – the lower is your risk of cancer. Also, not everyone who drinks alcohol develops cancer, but research suggest that excessive alcohol use contributes to about 3% of all cancers. Research suggests that alcohol increases the risk of liver, oral and breast cancers.
What we eat is a big contributor to cancer and may be responsible for up to a third of all cancer deaths. People whose intake does not involve fruit and vegetables are at a greater risk of several common cancers, including colorectal and stomach. Maintaining a healthy weight also helps towards cancer prevention.
A healthy diet is high in fruit, vegetables and cereals; and, low in fat, salt and sugar. World Health Organisation advices on 5 A Day campaign; which recommends eating a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetable a day.
It is recommended to include whole grains over refined grains in your diet as they are high in fibre and help to maintain weight and lower the risk of cancer. Red and processed meat should be avoided and supplemented with plant-based proteins such as soya, nuts and beans.
No food or food groups can completely prevent or eliminate your risk of cancer but maintaining a healthy diet and following basic guidelines can reduce your risk of cancer and other diseases.
Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections that increase your risk of cancer.
- Hepatitis: Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver but also refers to a group of viral infections that can damage the liver. There are various types of hepatitis – A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis B and C can cause cancer. You can get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B only. Please discuss with your doctor for further information and details about hepatitis and its prevention and treatment.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV): HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical and other genital cancers as well as squamous cell cancers of the head and neck. There are HPV screening tests for women however there are neither any HPV screening or HPV related cancers tests for men. It is recommended for girls and boys aged 11-12 to have HPV vaccine. It is also available to both men and women age 26 or younger who didn't have the vaccine as adolescents. Please discuss this further with your doctor for more information.
Obesity is one of the biggest preventable risk factors for cancer. Being overweight does not mean that someone could definitely get cancer, but it increases their risk of cancer. Obesity increases the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, endometrial and colorectal cancers.
The good news is that small changes over a period of time can help to make a real difference. Maintaining an active lifestyle helps to maintain a healthy weight, regulates your hormone levels and promotes digestion all of which help to reduce the risk of cancer. It is recommended to do 150 minutes of moderate exercise (like walking, yoga) or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (like jogging, swimming) per week.
Smoking is the biggest preventable cause of cancer in the world. Smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer and 14 other cancers including bladder, cervix, kidney, liver, leukaemia, mouth, oesophagus, ovary, pancreas, stomach, etc.
Smoking causes cancer by damaging your DNA. Each cigarette can damage DNA in many lung cells and the build-up of this damage in each cell can cause cancer. Though it can take many years for the DNA to be damaged; research suggest that every 15 cigarettes smoked can lead to DNA change and increase the risk of cancer.
The risk of cancer is direct to the number of cigarettes you smoke per day. Reducing the number of cigarettes, you smoke is a good starting step but smoking cessation is imperative to reduce the risk of cancer in your lifetime.
Please speak to your doctor for further information on how to quit smoking and the support available for you.
There is no such thing as a safe way to use tobacco. Tobacco contains over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Mouth cancer is the most common cancer caused due to tobacco use.
Tobacco is used in many forms and each of them is linked to cancer; like:
- Smoked tobacco: which includes cigars, pipes, roll up tobacco and bidis. Smoking these increases the risk of lung, mouth, oesophagus and stomach cancer. Smoking any of these is as bad as smoking cigarettes.
- Smokeless tobacco: which includes chewing tobacco, paan and inhaled tobacco (shisha). Most types of smokeless tobacco contain 28 different chemicals that can cause cancer. Hence like cigarettes smokeless tobacco is both addictive and dangerous.
Quitting tobacco at any age lowers the risk of cancer and is necessary to reduce the cancer risk in your lifetime.
Please speak to your doctor for further information on how to quit tobacco and the support available for you.
Regular self-exams and screening can help towards early detection of certain cancers like breast, cervix, oral and skin. Early detection increases the chances of treatment being more successful.
Please refer to our cancer screening page for further information or speak to your doctor for the best screening schedule for you.