National Cancer Awareness Day is observed on November 7 in India, annually to raise awareness about the increasing prevalence of cancer in our country. This health event was first coined in September 2014 by then Union health minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, which coincides with the birth anniversary of Nobel laureate Marie Curie, whose remarkable works led to the advancement of radiotherapy to treat cancer.
India initiated a vital step in the fight against this lethal disease in 1975, with the initiation of the National Cancer Control Program, which was aimed to deliver cancer treatment amenities to the populace, after ten years the vision of this scheme was revised to pay attention on prompt detection and prevention of cancer.
In India, 13,24,413 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the year 2020, and two-thirds of cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, thus decreasing the chances of survival. Reports state that one woman loses her life due to cervical cancer every 8 minutes in India. Tobacco-related cancers account for 3,17,928 mortalities in men and women in 2018. Cancers of the oral cavity and lungs account for over 25% of cancer deaths in males and breast and oral cavity cancers account for 25% of cancers in females. Around 70% of the factors that lead to cancer are preventable which include chemical and atmospheric pollutants, poor eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, and infections.
On this health day, government motivates people to visit hospitals, Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) centers, and municipal clinics for free cancer screening. Early diagnosis and treatment can detect malignancies in their earliest stages and better survival outcomes. Also, several activities have been formulated to improve research on the prevention, and early detection of cancer.
Early diagnosis is crucial, but can you reduce your risk of getting cancer in the first place? Well, scientist claim that up to 75% of cancer deaths can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle and following these effective measures, which include:
Effective Ways To Prevent Cancer
Avoid Tobacco In All Forms
Yes, using any form of tobacco can up your risk of cancer. Smoking has been associated with several types of cancer, such as cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix, and kidney. While chewing tobacco has been linked to the oral cavity and pancreas cancer. Even passive smoke might increase your risk of lung cancer.
Refraining from tobacco or deciding to quit smoking is a crucial part of cancer prevention. If you need support with quitting tobacco, ask your physician about the different types of smoking cessation products that are available and other effective strategies for quitting.
Eat A Wholesome And Varied Diet
Eating a balanced and healthy diet goes a long way in augmenting your health and well-being. Some of these guidelines can help avert cancer risk:
Have plenty of rainbow-colored fruits and vegetables and other plant-based foods like whole grains and beans. Eat leaner by choosing minimal amounts of high-calorie foods such as refined sugars and fat from animal sources.
Limit processed meats. Several pieces of evidence state that eating large servings of processed meat can gradually increase your risk of certain types of cancer.
Follow a Mediterranean diet that comprises mainly plant-based food, whole grains, legumes, and nuts and a healthy source of fats can greatly lessen the risk of cancer.
If you choose to drink alcohol, drink so in moderation. As long-term consumption of alcohol can increase your risk of breast, colon, lung, kidney, and liver cancer.
Manage Weight/ Lead An Active Lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the effective ways to reduce the risk of developing several types of cancer like breast, prostate, lung, colon, and kidney. While staying physically active also counts, as this may help one control weight and lower the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. The general goal is to include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in regular routine, and if you can stretch more, even better.
Protect From Sun Damage
Well, skin cancer is one of the most prevalent kinds of cancer and it is easily preventable. Follow these tips to mitigate the risk:
Stay away from the midday sun between 10.00A.M to 4.00 P.M, when the sun’s rays are strongest.
Stay in the shade while you’re outdoors as much as possible. Sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat may also help.
Wear loose-fitting clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible. Go for dark colours, which reflect more UV rays than light-coloured dresses.
Never go out without applying sunscreen, even on cloudy days. Use a broad spectrum of sunscreen with at least 30 SPF.
Vaccines are available that offer protection against certain viral infections, talk to your healthcare provider about vaccination against:
Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B can up the risk of liver cancer. Doctors recommend certain people at high risk, to get the hepatitis B vaccine like those who are sexually active, but not in mutually monogamous relationships, people with STI, those who use IV drugs, men who have sex with men, and health care workers or public safety workers who may be exposed to infected blood or fluids.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV): HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections that can lead to cervical and other genital cancers. It is highly recommended for girls and boys ages 11 and 12 to get the HPV vaccine to safeguard them against the risk of cancer later in life.
Practice Safe Sex
Limit the number of sexual partners or use a condom when you have sex. The more a person has sexual partners, the higher risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection like HIV or HPV. People suffering from AIDS are at higher risk of developing anus, liver, and lung cancer. Also, HPV is most often related to cervical cancer, but it may also up the risk anus, penis, throat, vulva, and vagina.
Get Regular Medical Screening
Regular self-exams and screening for different types of cancers like skin, colon, cervix, and breast - can improve your chances of discovering cancer early, when treatment is most effective. Talk to your healthcare provider for the best cancer screening schedule.