Half a century ago a person was far more likely to die from heart disease. Now cancer is on the verge of overtaking it as the No. 1 cause of death.
I am frequently asked why so many people these days are being diagnosed with cancer?
So …what could account for the rise in cancer cases? While human genes haven’t changed drastically over recent years, conditions in and around them have shifted. Lifestyle factors like diet and bad habits certainly play a role in our cellular health, as our life expectancy and the job we do. The rates of many chronic diseases have fallen in the past decades, but cancer is not behaving in the same fashion for a few reasons. When coming to cancer, one fact is very clear the older we get the higher is our risk; the longer we live, the more time we have for errors to build up. And so, as time passes, our risk of developing cancer goes up as we accumulate more of these faults in our genes. While tools for cancer diagnosis and treatment have improved, lifestyle has gone in the other direction. Poor lifestyle and sedentary habits have become the norm, which makes people overweight or obese increasing the risk of cancer. It has been estimated that over half a million cancers worldwide can be directly linked to obesity and inactivity every year. Obesity is tied to number of cancers including Breast, Colon, Oesophagus, Pancreatic, Endometrial, Kidney and Thyroid. In fact obesity threatens to overtake smoking as a number one risk factor for cancer. Other lifestyles like a diet that is high in red meats (such as beef, pork, lamb, or liver) and processed meats (such as hot dogs and some luncheon meats) can raise our risk of colorectal cancer .Drinking more alcohol, more regularly ups our risk for Breast, mouth, oesophageal and colon cancer. Sun bathing increases risk of skin cancer. On the other hand changing reproductive habits could explain why rates of breast ovarian and some other reproductive cancer haven’t fallen much despite introduction of HPV vaccine and more conscientious screening. How we choose to feed and protect our body can go far to reducing our risk of invasive cancer, most notably skin and colon cancer.
Cancer is currently more common in men than women, but due to changes in lifestyle women are catching up fast. It’s clear that unless progress is made in tackling obesity and other preventable causes of cancer, more people of both sexes will be diagnosed with the disease every year. We can all take the initiative in reducing our chance of getting cancer by eating more healthily, drinking less and doing more exercise.
Facing cancer was never easy, but you can take some comfort in that, prognosis has never been better than it is today. Like many life threatening medical conditions, early diagnosis can increase your likely hood of beating the disease and living a long life.
Thankfully in this day and age, receiving a cancer diagnosis is no longer a death sentence.