THE BIG C: Can Cancer Be Prevented?

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Statistically, one in every two people will get cancer in their lifetime. This is a shocking and frightening statistic, guaranteed to worry all of us. Understandably, the question ‘can cancer be prevented?’ is something many of us will have asked ourselves. The answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ which we appreciate is not very helpful, but read on.

Who is likely to develop cancer?

There are some people at higher risk of developing cancer than others. The following groups of people are most susceptible.

  • People who work in a high-risk environment, such as those working with cancer-causing substances, such as asbestos. As you will have seen on the media, there has been a massive demand for the best lawyers for asbestos exposure victims, especially for those who weren’t made aware of the dangers of this deadly substance in their workplace.
  • There is some research to suggest that the gene pool is also an overriding factor in developing the disease. After inheriting damaged DNA from their parents, the risks of cancers such as breast and ovarian have been increased. Despite the added risk, however, scientists have discovered only 2 or 3 people out of every 100 are in danger of cancer because of their faulty genes. There have also been advances in technology designed to alter the genes to make cancer less likely.
  • Lifestyle choices can also increase the risk of cancer. Sun-worshippers are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer because of the sun’s UV rays. Those who smoke tobacco are at risk of developing lung cancer. Then there is the debate around obesity, with some studies suggesting extra body fat and unhealthy eating plays a part in some cancers.

While the above categories place you in a higher risk of getting cancer, there is still the chance of cancer developing in those who aren’t recognized as being ‘high-risk.’ There have been cases of people developing lung cancer, for example, despite never having smoked a cigarette in their lives. So, while there is no cast-iron way to fully prevent cancer, there is still the need to take the appropriate measures to reduce the risk.

Preventative measures

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Some of these are common sense, especially when considering some of the points made above. Preventative measures include:

  • Avoiding tobacco completely, be you somebody who smokes or chews the acrid substance. Smoking is a proven factor of lung cancer, and chewing has been linked to mouth and pancreatic cancer. Admittedly, giving up on smoking is difficult, as with any addictive substance, but your doctor or pharmacist should be able to advise you on specific products to help you with your cravings if this is something relevant to you.
  • Change your diet. Some foods have been found to increase the chances of cancer, and so by avoiding these foods, no matter how tempting, you are putting yourself in less danger. Remembering too, that obesity could lead to cancer, it is also important to avoid overeating and foods that are guaranteed to pile on the pounds. Healthier foods should always be the best option then, including fruits and vegetables, while processed foods and even alcohol should be cut down in your weekly shop.
  • Engage in physical activity more often. This is a guaranteed way to beat the dangers of obesity, and specific cancers, such as breast and colon that are prevalent amongst those who don’t exercise enough. Of course, there are all kinds of other health benefits associated with exercise, so we need to cut back on the excuses for not keeping fit on a regular basis.
  • Protect yourself from skin cancer by taking preventative measures when out in the sun. This includes wearing the appropriate level sun lotions, covering exposed areas of the skin with light clothing, and staying in the shade on particularly hot days. You should also be aware of the harmful effects of UV rays from other sources, such as sunlamps and tanning beds. Avoid them or limit the time you spend trying to bronze your skin.
  • See your doctor regularly. Regular screenings can discover the signs of cancer early, making the disease more treatable. Your doctor will also give you advice on your lifestyle choices, answer your questions about the disease, and advise you on preventable tactics. You should also take any immunizations on offer, especially if you are at risk of sexually-transmitted diseases, as STDs have been linked to certain kinds of cancer, such as anal and lung cancer.

The answer to cancer

Can cancer be prevented? Yes and no, but hopefully one day, a cure will be found to eliminate the disease entirely. Until then, your first course of action should be to follow the preventative measures we mentioned to reduce the risk of cancer in your life. Continue your research online and speak to your doctor who will advise you further.

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