Friday, May 3, 2019

QUITTERS ARE WINNERS: Are Your Habits Increasing Your Cancer Risk?

Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash
I used to have family members who would smoke at least 2 cigarettes a day. It's either they were stressed or they need it to help with their digestion. Sometimes, it's out of peer pressure especially if you're working in the call center industry. Thankfully, they all eventually quit even before having any side effects. 

If you have a cigarette smoking habit, think twice about taking another puff: tobacco use is the most important  risk  factor  for  cancer,  responsible  for  around  12%  of  cancer deaths based on the Globocan 2018 data. Among the different types of cancer, the one that affects the lung is the most common cause of cancer mortality at an estimated
1.76 million deaths globally.

According to the World Health Organization, the second leading cause of death around the world is cancer, responsible for around 9.6 million lives lost in the year 2018 alone. About a third of these cancer deaths arise from behaviors and risks such as high body mass index or what we know in layman’s terms as obesity, not eating enough fruits and vegetables, lack of physical activity, tobacco or cigarette smoking, and alcohol intake. Among other contributing risk factors for cancer are genetics, that’s when cancer runs in the family and age because as one gets older, cells aren’t as healthy or capable of fighting rogue cells anymore.

But we are not entirely helpless in the face of cancer; individuals can improve their odds of not developing cancer by correcting poor lifestyle habits. Here are a few ways to help put you on the road to better overall health:

  • Give up cigarette and tobacco use. It can be difficult to quit smoking because it contains the addictive substance nicotine as well as other harmful chemicals which are easily absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs.Don’t worry much about the withdrawal symptoms; these will improve over time everyday that an individual stays tobacco-free.
  • If you’re not a cigarette smoker, stay away from places where you are in danger of breathing in second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke is the combination of smoke that comes from a cigarette and smoke breathed out by the smoker.
  • Avoid a sedentary lifestyle to decrease the risk of colon, endometrial, and lung cancers.It is easy to fall into inactivity because of gadget use, the many forms of entertainment media available and work routines that keep people seated  for hours.  When sedentary behaviors are partnered with unhealthy eating, health problems  will  arise.  Know  that  just  a  few  minutes  of  daily  exercise  does wonderful benefits to the body. Engage your partner or friend to join your regular walks or workouts so you don’t slip back into old patterns
  • Reduce  the  intake  of  high-calorie  foods  and  processed  meats,  and  start  a healthier  diet  that  includes  vitamin-rich  fruits  and  vegetables,  whole  grain  and other  fibrous  foods,  to  lower  the  chances  of  developing  cancers  of  the  mouth, upper throat, larynx, lung, stomach, and bowel.
  • Alcohol use is another lifestyle risk of various cancers that affect the liver, mouth, pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box), esophagus, and colon and rectum,  as well as cancers of the breast, pancreas, and stomach. The risk can depend on the amounts  of  alcohol  intake  and  the  length  of  time  a  person  has  been  drinking alcohol.
  • Risky  sexual  behaviors  can  also  increase  the  probability  of  developing  cancer. Using condoms greatly reduces the possibility of catching and spreading sexually transmitted infections, such as human papilloma virus or HPV infection which can cause cancers of the cervix, anus, the middle part of the throat (including the soft palate, the base  of the tongue and the tonsils), as well as other rarer cancers, according to the US National Cancer Institute.
  • If it can be helped, stay away from ultraviolet radiation, or at least wear adequate protection.
  • Highly polluted areas contribute to the  development of  lung cancer  because of the poor quality of air particularly in urban zones. Indoor smoke from household use  of  solid fuels  such  as  charcoal  and  wood  can also  increase the burden of cancer.  To  protect  against  pollution,  keep  your  home  well-ventilated  or  modify your energy or heating source.
While  there  is  no  guarantee  that  people  who  subscribe  to  lifestyle  modifications  will never  get   cancer,  changing   habits  for  the  better   can   decrease  the   chances  of developing the malignant disease.

For those who have been diagnosed with cancer, the next course of action is treatment. Chemotherapy, radiation, and  targeted  therapy  continue  to  be  treatment  options  for cancer  patients.  But a new one, immunotherapy, holds great promise  in  clinical  trials worldwide.

Image taken from
Immunotherapy does not have the same toxicities as conventional therapies, and lung cancer has been shown to be responsive to immunotherapy treatment (other types like melanoma, stomach cancers, bladder, head and neck cancers are also responsive to the treatment). Those who want to know if they can benefit from the latest immunotherapy treatment can visit for more information. 

In an interview with a local broadsheet, Dr. Gerry Cornelio, an oncologist at St. Luke’s Medical Center,  noted  that  while  medical  solutions  for  lung  cancer  are  steadily improving  and  experts  are  closer  to  being  able  to  control  the  illness,  still  the  best defense against lung cancer and other forms of the disease is prevention: this means adhering to a healthy, clean lifestyle and environment. 

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