Cancer: Are You at Risk?
Not all of us develop a cancer but not all of us are spared either. One may be at risk for a cancer and many a times it may be a modifiable risk. You should know the possible the risks and also amend them to avoid a potential cancer.
Anybody can be at risk of cancer. The global trends for cancers are increasing fast. The World Cancer Report projects an increase in cancers by 50% to 15 million new cases in the year 2020. You have more risk of developing cancer as you age. The risk is also high if one or more of your family members have had a cancer. You may be enjoying drinking alcohol and smoking but these increase your risk of cancer by many folds. If you are occupationally or otherwise exposed to some external agents like smoke, harmful radiations, chemical substances, and certain harmful microorganisms, you stand a higher risk for cancer. Being overweight, having a sedentary lifestyle, and an unhealthy diet are other important risks for cancer.
Smoking and other tobacco use
Tobacco whether in the form of smoke or chewable forms has been an independent risk factor for development of not only the lung cancer but also those of the mouth, oral cavity, voice box, food pipe, nasal sinuses, stomach, liver, kidney, reproductive organs, and blood cancer. Even if you are not a smoker but are exposed to tobacco smoke in the environment, you stand a risk of cancer. Tobacco has many carcinogens (cancer causing entities) which include the tobacco–specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), nicotine, N–nitrosamino acids, benzopyrene, and many more. Evident enough that is now time to QUIT smoking!
Alcohol is a carcinogen. It can itself act as an irritant, or as a transporter or solvent for other carcinogens. Alcohol increases the risk for a number of cancers like those of the mouth, throat, food pipe, voice box, liver, and breast. Men should not have more than 2 and women more than 1 drink per day. If you drink in excess, get down to moderation, NOW!
Diet and exercise
Physical inactivity is a risk factor for colon, breast, prostate, uterus, and other cancers. Obesity can predispose to cancers and exercise can significantly cut down the risk of cancers.
Diet has a direct link to cancers. A diet low in fiber and roughage is a risk for colon cancer. A diet rich in calories and fats increases a risk for cancer of colon, uterus, and prostate. Fruits and vegetables have the goodness of mineral, vitamins, and fiber that help to prevent cancers. Some specific types of food like smoked meat and salty and fried items increase the risk of stomach cancer. Indeed you need to rethink your diet.
Cancer can be inherited in the genes we get from our parents. You may have a high, moderate or low inherent risk for cancer. Cancers like those of breast, ovary, uterus, and stomach are known to run in families.
Risk factors at workplace and environment
Harmful physical, chemical or biological carcinogens can be present in the external environment or the workplace. People employed in chemical manufacturing or processing industries are exposed to carcinogens like asbestos, benzene, benzidine, cadmium, nickel, and others. Harmful radiations in the environment can lead to cancers in the thyroid, breast, blood, etc. A type of radiation called ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is known to be risk factor for skin cancers. Some viruses like the hepatitis B virus, HIV virus, human papilloma virus (HPV), and bacteria like the H. pylori are known to increase the risk of cancers like those of the liver, cervix, stomach, etc.
You can avert the risks for cancer. Quit smoking and make moderation a must for alcohol consumption. We cannot prevent ageing but adopting a healthy lifestyle can help us avoid the risks of cancer as we age.
Get active. Include at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity in your routine for at least 5 days in a week. Find a buddy to accompany you for a walk or join a group activity.
Watch what you eat. Eat healthy foods. Include fruits and vegetable sin your diet. Drink plenty of water. Avoid foods rich in fats and calories like butter, whole milk, fried and fast food.
If others in your family have cancer, you can know your risk by undergoing tests and screening procedures.Early detection of a cancer can help to contain it at an early risk before it has ravaged the rest of your body.
Many viruses that are known to cause cancer, spread through irrational sexual practices and sharing of needles. Practice safe and protected sex. Condoms are the best bet. Have yourself vaccinated if one is suitable for you. Never share needles, razors, or any sharp cutting instruments with anybody.
Above all, undergo regular screening. If you think you stand risks for certain cancers, you should undergo periodic tests and checks to detect the emergence of one. Example, if you are a menopausal woman and have been taking hormone replacement, you should undergo periodic testing for uterine and breast cancers. If you are a smoker, you should have yourself screened for lung and other cancers. If you are a sexually active woman, you should undergo screening for cervical cancer.
More risks for cancers are modifiable than not. Prevention is the key to a better and longer life!