Home About Cancer Cancer Preventions

Cancer is to a large extend avoidable. Many cancers can be prevented. The most important modifiable risk factors for cancer are:

  1. Tobacco use - responsible for up to 1.5 million cancer deaths per year (60% of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries);
  2. Overweight, obesity and physical inactivity - together responsible for 274000 cancer deaths per year.
  3. Harmful alcohol use - responsible for 351000 cancer deaths per year;
  4. Sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV) infection- responsible for 235000cancer deaths per year;
  5. Air pollution (outdoor and indoor)-responsible for 71000 cancer deaths per year;
  6. Occupational carcinogens - responsible for at least 152000 cancer deaths per year

TOBACCO, through its various forms of exposure, constitutes the main cause of cancer related deaths worldwide among men, and increasingly among women. Forms of exposure include active smoking, breathing secondhand tobacco smoke and smokeless tobacco. Tobacco causes a variety of cancer types, such as lung, esophageal, laryngeal, oral, bladder, kidney, stomach, cervical and colorectal.

CHANGES IN LIFESTYLE and dietary pattern play an important role as causes of cancer. Overweight and obesity are causally associated with several common cancer types, including cancers of the esophagus, colorectal, breast in postmenopausal women, endometrium and kidney. Regular physical activity and the maintenance of a healthy body weight, along with a healthy diet, will considerably reduce cancer risk.

INFECTIONS: Infectious agents are responsible for almost 22% of cancer deaths in the developing world and 6% in industrialized countries. Viral hepatitis B and C cause cancer of the liver; human papilloma virus infection causes cervical cancer; the bacterium Helicobacter pylori increases the risk of stomach cancer. In some countries the parasitic infection schistosomiasis increases the risk of bladder cancer and liver fluke increases the risk of cholangiocarcinoma of the bile ducts. Preventive measures include vaccination and prevention of infection and infestation.

ALCOHOL USE is a risk factor for many cancer types including cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colorectal and breast. Risk of cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed

RADIATION: Ionizing radiation is carcinogenic to humans. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and in particular solar radiation, is carcinogenic to humans, causing all major types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma. Avoiding excessive exposure, use of sunscreen and protective clothing are effective preventive measures.

ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION of air, water and soil with carcinogenic chemicals accounts for 1 to 4% of all cancers (IARC/WHO, 2003). Exposure to carcinogenic chemicals in the environment can occur through drinking water or pollution of indoor and ambient air.

OCCUPATIONAL CARCINOGENS: More than 40 agents, mixtures and exposure circumstances in the working environment are carcinogenic to humans. Occupational carcinogens are causally related to cancer of the lung, bladder, larynx and skin, leukemia and nasopharyngeal cancer.

                                 TIPS FOR CANCER PREVENTION                                

Protect your skin from sunlight

Stay away from tobacco and alcohol

Get to and stay at a healthy weight

Get moving with regular physical activity

Eat healthy with plenty of fruits and vegetables

Know yourself, your family history, and your risks

Have regular checkups and cancer screening tests



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