World Cancer Day 2023- Smoking, chewing tobacco, and betel nuts are risk factors known to cause cancer. Expert explains various causes of Cancer.
Cancer is a dreaded disease, and its incidence is increasing. In a special series, on World Cancer Day, the OnlyMyHealth editorial team talked to Dr Vineeta Goel, Cancer Specialist, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi. Dr Goel has been treating and helping cancer patients live a healthy life for the last 25 years. Dr Goel talks in great detail about what different causes of cancer and approaches to deal with them. It is important to remain vigilant of these causes of cancer and prevent them as much as possible.
What Causes Cancer?
According to Dr Goel, “The causes of cancer are not fully known, but we know some risk factors that are associated with cancer development. Consumption of tobacco, betel nut, and smoking are all associated with the increased risk of several cancers, including mouth, throat and lungs. Avoid these substances to prevent cancers.” Sometimes mouth/tongue cancer can also occur due to constant trauma or friction by sharp teeth or ill-fitting dentures. Be aware and see your dentist if you have any such teeth to avoid cancer development.
Lifestyle-Related Causes Of Cancer
There are certain lifestyle factors like lack of physical exercise, sedentary life, obesity, and consumption of junk foods, which also increase the lifetime risk of developing cancer. There is a saying that “sitting is the new smoking”. This means lack of exercise or prolonged sitting is as harmful as smoking.
Genetic Causes Of Cancer
Few cancers run in families and are transferred through genes. According to Dr Goel, the extent of genetic cancer is only about 5%, while the rest 95% of cancers are not hereditary. It is important that people with a family history of cancer be more aware of this disease and do regular screening tests.
Approaches To Fight Cancer
It is important that we change our perception towards cancer. Dr Goel suggests three ways one can deal with cancer.
Prevention Of Cancer
Adding to the prevention of cancer, Dr Goel said, “Cervical cancer is common cancer in women but can be prevented by a vaccine. This vaccine is easily available in India. The vaccine is administered to girls after the age of 12 years, in two to three shots.” The risk of breast cancer reduces in women by breastfeeding and avoidance of prolonged use of oral contraceptive pills. Cancer of the liver is sometimes associated with Hepatitis B infection, and like cervical cancer, Hepatitis B vaccines are also available in the market.
Dr Goel recommended having a plant-based diet with more fresh fruits and vegetables instead of junk, processed foods, and meat. Additionally, one should not forget to indulge in regular physical exercise.
Many cancers cannot be prevented, but since they are common cancers, it becomes important to be aware of their symptoms and go for regular screening and health checkups. In today’s day and age, many people do regular checkups for heart disease, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. One should include cancer screening tests in their health checkups as well.
Golden Rule For Timely Cancer Detection
If you have any symptoms like any ulcer, swelling, unexplained weight loss, reduced appetite, change in voice, difficulty in gulping food, difficulty in breathing, abnormal bleeding, or back pain persisting for more than three weeks, please consult your doctor to rule out the possibility of serious illness like cancer.
Our Attitude Determines Our Altitude
It is important that we change our perception towards cancer diagnosis and treatment. While concluding, Dr Goel said, “We need to change the pessimistic view that cancer cannot be cured. Modern medicine has made significant advancements that make cancer cure possible for the majority of patients. We should have an optimistic approach and think that cancer is just a comma in one’s life and not a full stop.”
Prevention, awareness, screening tests, early detection and optimism towards cancer diagnosis and treatment is the message that we should be spreading on this World Cancer Day.