What is more horrifying than hearing your doctor say, “You have cancer.” Cancer is often unpredictable. It does not develop overnight. It is a disease in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably like an evolutionary process. As it keeps on growing, it starts damaging tissues and organs. It can start from almost anywhere in the body. The sooner cancer is found and treated, the better our chances of living a longer and healthier life.
The purpose of ‘National Cancer Control Month’ observation
The fear of cancer is rising globally and prevention remains one of the most important challenges. The purpose of National Cancer Control month is to help educate the public on the precautionary measures that can be taken to help reduce and prevent the prevalence of cancer.
Cancer Control Month is a reminder that there are several steps we can take to reduce the risk of cancer. It reminds almost every one of us of a friend, family member, or co-worker who has battled cancer and won or lost the fight against this widespread disease. It draws attention to all the factors that may cause or prevent cancer and encourages us to take control of our health.
Key Statistics about Cancer
- After heart disease, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States.
- The lifetime probability of being diagnosed with cancer is 39.3% for men and 37.7% for women, which is a little more than 1 in 3.
- About 1,762,450 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2019.
- In 2019, an estimated 11,060 children in the age group 1-14 will be diagnosed with cancer.
- The number of global cancer deaths is projected to increase by 45% between 2008 and 2030.
- About 30% of the cancer deaths could be avoided by a change of lifestyle and more healthy behaviors.
When it comes to cancer, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Before cancer gets past any treatments, it’s time we develop ways to prevent it in the first place. Cancer sometimes is tricky to spot. There is no magic spell for avoiding cancer entirely, However, there are choices you can make to help lower your risk of developing the disease over the course of your lifetime.
Now the important question – how do you start? It all starts with becoming personally responsible for avoiding risk and implementing preventative measures. Food, nutrition, physical activity, and body weight play a central role in the prevention of cancer. What is required is a little more than a few lifestyle changes to make all the difference in the world. Maintaining a normal weight, practicing healthy eating habits, and engaging in regular physical activity plays a critical role in preventing kidney, endometrial, esophageal, colon, and other forms of cancer.
The American Cancer Society suggests these guidelines for early detection of cancer:
- Learn more about your family members’ medical history
- Ask your doctor about self-exams and symptoms to watch for
- For women, yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40
- Men ages 50 and above should speak with their doctor to decide when to start screening for prostate cancer
- Both men and women should be tested for colorectal cancer every 5 to 10 years
- Protect and examine your skin regularly
It’s time to look at these hard facts and consider lifestyle changes and options for regular screenings to reduce the risk of cancer and increase the chances of detecting it early.
Can lifestyle changes really make a difference?
The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that about 20% of all cancers diagnosed in the US are related to body fatness, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption, and/or poor nutrition. The good news is that you can do something about this. The World Cancer Research Fund has provided a blueprint that directs people towards healthy patterns of diet and physical activity to beat cancer and build a Cancer-free future. It includes:
- Keep your weight within the healthy range and avoid weight gain in adult life.
- Be physically active as a part of everyday life – walk more and sit less.
- Make whole grains, veggies, fruits, and beans a major part of your usual diet.
- Limit consumption of fast foods and other processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars.
- Eat no more than moderate amounts of red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb. Eat little, if any, processed meat.
- Limit sugar-sweetened drinks; drink mostly water and unsweetened drinks.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Don’t rely on supplements, aim to meet nutritional demands through diet alone.
Boost your odds of living a longer, healthier life.
Our bodies are designed to send signals when something is wrong. We know our own bodies the best and more often than not when something is wrong. Listen! Take time to talk with your doctor when you have any concerns. Do not allow fear of any new sign or symptom you may be experiencing from getting it checked out. We still need to learn more about how the disease develops and how we can stop before it starts.
We can all do what is in our power and minimize the risks of getting Cancer. What are you doing to recognize April as National Cancer Control Month? Let us know!