Cancer is caused due to various factors in our lifestyle, environment and a very few through genetics. 33% to 50% of all cancers are caused by our lifestyle, such as smoking, poor diet, alcohol consumption and obesity. 5% to 10% are caused by genetics. The remaining are caused due to environmental factors such as radiation, infections etc.
We should understand that cancer is preventable, and it is not fate or our misfortune when it comes to getting cancer.
Here are some simple recommendations that are evidence-based and that can reduce the risk of cancer.
- Quit smoking. Smoking not only harms you, but people around you. Do not use any form of tobacco. Support smoke-free policies in your workplace as well as your home.
- Maintain a healthy body weight as per your age and height.
- Be physically active in day to day life instead of spending your time sitting and being lazy.
- A healthy diet is very necessary with plenty of whole grains, pulses, vegetables, and fruits. Reduce consumption of high-calorie foods and avoid sugary drinks. Avoid meat which is processed and limit on red meat and foods high in salt.
- Limit the consumption of alcohol. Not drinking alcohol is better for cancer prevention.
- Avoid too much sun, especially for the children. Use of sun protection is advised.
- For women, breastfeeding reduces the risk of cancer for the mother. Limit the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as it increases risk of certain cancers.
- Make sure vaccinations are given to your children at the right age, like Hepatitis B for new-born, Human papillomavirus (HPV) for girls.
Accommodating these tips in your life is important. In reality, it’s not easy to change some behaviours. For example, smoking, are habit-based and are very hard to change. But it is always better to stay on the safer side and prioritise the here and now.
Know that many cancers are preventable, you just need to take a stand for yourself to reduce your own personal risk.