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Lifestyle modifications to prevent Cancer

March 25, 2019

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The cancer rates in India are considerably rising each year. Evidence suggests that lifestyle factors, including diet, inactivity and exposure to carcinogens such as alcohol, tobacco, smoking play a major role in the development of these common cancers. Hence it is important to make certain lifestyle modifications to prevent the risk of developing cancer.


Quit Smoking, Tobacco and Alcohol

One of the major cause of cancer is Smoking. India has one of the highest rates of oral cancer in the world, with 90% of the patients being tobacco chewers. Approximately half of all cancers in men are tobacco related. Smoking increases the risk of lung, esophagus, mouth, throat, bladder, liver, stomach, kidneys, pancreas and cervix. Also people who are exposed to passive smoking have a 25 per cent increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer. There is a strong association between alcohol consumption and risk of cancer of 7 types of cancer which included mouth, Pharyngeal, oesophageal, laryngeal, breast, bowel and liver cancer.


Eat a healthy and balanced diet

Unhealthy dietary habits are one of the causes of cancer. The quantity and the type of the food you eat will have a major influence on your health. Studies have shown that diets which are high in vegetables and fruits and low in animal fat, meat, and calories have a reduced risk of some of the most common types of cancer. Also high-fat diets have been associated with an increase in the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum, prostate and endometrium.


Following are the steps you can take towards healthy eating habits:


• Eat small and frequent meals.

• Choose whole grains food over refined food and sugars.

• Include at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit in the diet.

• Include antioxidants in the diet by including variety of fruits and vegetables.

• Limit consumption of fat (Saturated & Trans fats) in the diet and opt for good quality fats (Mono saturated fats & Omega 3 fats).

• Avoid consumption of Red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and processed meats as it increases the risk of colorectal and stomach cancer. Choose fish, poultry or beans instead of red meat.

• Avoid high consumption of salt and processed foods.


Maintain a healthy weight

Research has shown that obesity is linked to cause certain types of cancer. We can take an important step by maintaining a healthy weight as it will greatly reduce the possibility of developing certain forms of cancers. To achieve a healthy weight it is very important to adapt a healthy lifestyle by including a healthy and well balanced diet, be physically active.


Protect yourself from harsh sun

The UV Radiation (UVA & UVB) from the sun can damage the DNA in the skin and cause skin cancer. About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 65 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Therefore it is mandatory to take precautions and protect yourself from sun. Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. as the sun's rays are strongest during that time. Apply a sunscreen with good SPF before you step out in the sun.


Exercise regularly

There is strong scientific evidence that following healthy dietary patterns in combination with regular physical activity may reduce the risk of several types of cancer including cancers of the breast and colon. According to American Cancer Society including daily moderate activity for 30-45 minutes may reduce the risk of cancer.



Infections are responsible for almost 22% of cancer deaths in the developing world. Certain Infections such as 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. Hence preventive measures such as vaccination should be taken to prevent the infections.


Regular Checkups and screening

Visit your doctor for regular checkups especially if there is any family history of cancer. Most screenings and checkups are to detect cancer early, when it's easier to treat and may even be curable.

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