CANCER SOCIETY OF KASHMIR
Cancer is to a large extent avoidable. Many cancers can be prevented by modification of various risk factors responsible for particular cancers (Primary prevention). Others can be detected early in their development (through screening), treated and cured (Secondary prevention). Even with late stage cancer, the pain can be reduced, the progression of cancer slowed and patients and their families helped to cope (Tertiary prevention).
Primary Prevention of Cancer
Primary prevention concerns identification and manipulation of genetic, biologic and environmental factors in the causal pathway of cancer. The important risk factors identified for various cancers are tobacco use, dietary factors and being overweight, infectious agents e.g. Hepatitis B, hepatitis C, Human papilloma virus, EBV, HIV and H.pylori infections, environmental pollution and radiation.
Tobacco use through cigarettes and other means is the most avoidable risk factor for cancer. Tobacco use increases the risk of cancers of lung, mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, colorectum, liver, pancreas, kidney, bladder, uterine cervix and ovary as well as myeloid leukemia. Exposure to second hand smoke also increases risk of lung cancer in adults. 30% of all cancer deaths and about 80% of lung cancer deaths can be attributed to tobacco.
Smokers who quit can expect to live as many as 10 years longer than those who continue to smoke. Those who stop smoking have a lower lung cancer mortality rate than those who continue smoking despite the fact that some carcinogen induced mutations persists for years. Smoking cessation and avoidance have the potential to save and extend more lives than any other public health activity.
Overweight and obesity, physical activity and Nutrition
Obesity, physical inactivity and poor nutrition are major risk factors for cancer, second only to tobacco use. Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for developing many cancers such as breast, colon, rectum, endometrium, kidney, pancreas, adenocarcinoma of esophagus, liver, gall bladder and aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
According to American Cancer Society, the various guidelines on Nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention are:
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight throughout life.
- Be as lean as possible throughout life without being overweight.
- Avoid excess weight gain at all ages.
- Engage in regular physical activity and limit consumption of high calorie foods and beverages.
- Adopt a physically active lifestyle
- Adults should engage in atleast 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity each week.
- Children and adolescents should engage in atleast 1 hour of moderate or vigorous intensity physical activity each day with vigorous intensity activity atleast 3 days each week.
- Limit sedentary behaviour such as sitting, lying down and watching T.V. and other forms of screen based entertainment.
- Consume a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant sources.
- Choose food and beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
- Limit consumption of processed meat and red meats.
- Eat atleast 2 ½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
- Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products.
- Limit alcohol consumption, if you drink at all.
- Radiation exposure: majority of skin cancers are caused by unprotected exposure to UV radiation primarily from sun.
Various measures to prevent skin cancer are
- Seek the shade when outdoors in the sun esp. between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Wear UV protective sunglasses, adequate clothing that covers face, arms, legs and torso.
- Apply adequate amount of broad spectrum sunscreen lotion with SPF of 30 or higher to exposed skin.
- Vaccines and cancer prevention: Currently two vaccines are in use to prevent cancers -Hepatitis B vaccine to prevent chronic hepatitis and liver cancer, and HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.
- Antibiotic eradication of H. pylori is also a cancer prevention strategy.
(Issued in Public Interest by Cancer Society Of Kashmir