Every year on the 4th of February, everyone unites to raise more awareness and education about cancer. The theme for Cancer Day this year is ‘#IAmAndIWill’
Whoever you are, you have the power to reduce the impact of cancer for yourself, the people you love and for the world. It’s time to make a personal commitment.
Inspire action – Take action. These are things you can do to prevent cancer and be more healthy.
1. Maintain a healthy diet
Although making healthy selections at the grocery store and at mealtime can’t guarantee cancer prevention, it might help reduce your risk. Consider these guidelines:
• Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Base your diet on fruits, vegetables and other foods from plant sources — such as whole grains and beans.
• Avoid Processed foods. foods that have been chemically processed and made solely from refined ingredients and artificial substances, are dangerous to our health. They’re usually high in sugar, they are made to be extremely desirable which leads to over consumption, they are also low in nutrients and they contain artificial ingredients like preservatives, colorants, flavor and textautants, all of which are harmful. We need to totally scrap canned foods in exchange for their natural equivalents. For example, why use tin tomatoes when you can get fresh tomatoes and blend?
• Limit processed meats and red meats.
Eating large amounts of processed meat can slightly increase the risk of certain types of cancer. Red meat hardens the blood vessels. A study from Harvard school of public health found an association with red meat consumption and increased risk of shortened life span.
2. Don’t use tobacco (quit smoking)
Using any type of tobacco -including shisha – puts you on a collision course with cancer. Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer — including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas. Even if you don’t use tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke might increase your risk of lung cancer. Avoiding tobacco — or deciding to stop using it — is one of the most important health decisions you can make. It’s also an important part of cancer prevention.
Most importantly, smokers need to quit smoking. Tobacco use is one of the single largest preventable cause of cancer globally. Quitting smoking will have a major positive impact on an individual’s health and that of his friends and family as well. The good news is that quitting at any age is beneficial as it will increase life expectancy and improve quality of life.
3. Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active
• Maintaining a healthy weight might lower the risk of various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney. Eat lighter and leaner by choosing fewer high-calorie foods, including refined sugars and fat from animal sources.
• Physical activity counts, too. In addition to helping you control your weight, physical activity on its own might lower the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer. Adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits. But for substantial health benefits, strive to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic physical activity. You can also do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine — and if you can do more, even better
4. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation.
The risk of various types of cancer — including cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver — increases with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you’ve been drinking regularly. If you choose to drink, drink in moderation
5. Protect yourself from the sun
Reducing exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and other sources , such as solariums, is also important to reduce the risk of many skin cancers.Try these tips:
• Avoid midday sun. Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.
• Stay in the shade. When you’re outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible. Sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat help, too especially when going to the beach.
• Cover exposed areas. Wear tightly woven, loose fitting clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible.
6. Get immunized. Vaccinate against HPV and hepatitis B virus;
Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections. Talk to your doctor about immunization against:
• Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B can increase the risk of developing liver cancer.
• 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. In Nigeria, one woman dies every hour of cervical cancer. Pre exposure vaccine is one of the most effective methods of preventing the transmission of HPV (human papilloma virus). You can vaccinate your children from age 11. Adults can be vaccinated too, but if sexually active before the vaccine, you would still require yearly follow up screenings to be safe.
7. Early detection is KEY! Get regular medical care
Regular self-exams and screenings for various types of cancers — such as cancer of the skin, colon, cervix and breast — can increase your chances of discovering cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Ask your doctor about the best cancer screening schedule for you.
Schools can play their part as well
Schools can be champions of healthy behavior among children, staff, parents and the wider community by cultivating an environment that supports good nutrition and physical activity. Every school can foster a culture of healthy choices and habits.
8. Providing healthy food choices.
Providing healthy choices in school canteens and cafeterias to ensure children have access to lower energy density meals and snacks. For example, schools can make water available instead of sugar-sweetened beverages, this can have a considerable influence on the development of positive attitudes towards food and promote healthy behaviors.
The establishment of standard of meals provided in schools or foods and beverages sold in schools, that meet healthy nutrition guidelines, is one of a set of recommendations by the World Health Organization to promote healthy school environments.
9. Participation in physical education and activity should be compulsory for students
Regular participation in quality physical education will improve a child’s attention span, enhance their cognitive control and processing as well as provide instruction and skill learning opportunities that contribute to the development of physical literacy and positive attitudes.
10. Maintain a healthy school environment
Schools should appoint a person to oversee investment and policies that support a healthy school environment. This is sure to improve the physical and mental health of students and staff that extend to the whole community.
Take cancer prevention into your own hands, starting today. The rewards will last a lifetime. Inspire Action. Take Action
Culled from Mayo Clinic, WHO and Worldcancerday.org