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Lifestyle Changes Can Minimize Risk of Cancer

Used cigarettes / Photo by geralt via Pixabay

 

Cancer has been proven to be one of the deadliest and most dangerous diseases to ever exist in this world that kills tens of thousands of people each year. According to Cancer Research UK, around 14.1 million cases of cancer were recorded in 2012 alone such as breast, colon, and lung cancer; with around 8.2 million fatalities recorded in the same time period.

With these figures, numerous research and development programs were implemented to minimize the risk of people developing cancer in the near future. While most of these research programs offer little to no progress at this moment, one scientist has studied the possibility of minimizing the risks of cancer with a very simple case: changing lifestyle.

Dr. Otis W. Brawley, the chief medical and scientific officer for American Cancer Society, has pushed forward such a claim that lifestyle plays a very important part when it comes to people and developing cancer. He said that lifestyle changes for men, such as smoking and obesity, can greatly affect the person’s risk of developing cancer.

 

 

Aging and Cancer

The National Cancer Institute in the United States determined that age is one of the risk factors for developing cancer. In their study, it has been proven that the median age for cancer patients is pegged at 66 years old, with 76.9 percent of new cancer cases occurring at ages 55 and above.

As we grow older, our bodily functions and processes start to age as well. The mitochondria, also known as the powerhouse of the cell, starts to age, making it easier for people to develop mutations, and unfortunately, cancer.

While it can be attributed to an aging population, getting the risk of cancer varies among different demographics, more specifically, sex and lifestyle choices. For example, men are more susceptible toward getting the disease, with a 16-percent higher risk compared to women. They, too, are 40 percent likely to die from cancer, according to the National Cancer Intelligence Network.

As stated earlier, the higher tendency toward developing cancer as one advances in age can be thwarted with a change in lifestyle.

 

Tobacco and Cancer

Lifestyle also plays a very integral part in keeping someone’s body healthy in general, whether you’re at risk of contracting cancer or not. In the United States alone, 20 percent of all new cancer cases could have been prevented through a change in lifestyle, and the leading reason for someone getting cancer is through exposure or use of tobacco.

While we are only familiar with lung cancer as the main disease that one can contract from using tobacco, the case seems to be much worse. According to Dr. Brawley, at least 18 types of cancer are related to tobacco use; and aside from cancer, it’s also the leading cause of heart diseases in the United States.

As early as the 1950s, it was already established that tobacco poses a great risk as a carcinogenic, with different studies linking the said substance to cancer cases and risks. This did not change the lifestyle of people who used tobacco substances more often, leading to a sharp increase in cases and deaths since the 1950s. It is believed that tobacco is responsible for at least 30 percent of cancer cases in developed countries.

While the number of cancer patients linked to use of tobacco has declined over time, thanks to lesser people consuming the said product, it is still considered to be the elephant in the room, with at least 134,000 cases annually, traced to tobacco and substance use.

Dr. Brawley has one suggestion for people who smoke: Stop before it’s too late. While it can be argued that for most people, tobacco withdrawal can pose great effects on the body, Dr. Brawley said that the benefits can greatly outweigh these. “It’s never too late to quit,” Brawley said.

And he’s not underselling the possible effects of withdrawing from using tobacco: the risk of heart attacks and cancer can go down sharply within days or weeks of not using tobacco. This can result in a better life and a healthier lifestyle.

 

Obesity and Cancer

For non-smokers, however, Dr. Brawley has noticed another culprit in developing cancers: Obesity. In developed countries, seems to be one of the most compelling reasons why people develop cancers, with 1 out of 20 cases in the United Kingdom attributed to obesity. In the United States, this is the second leading cause of cancer in adults, causing different types of the disease in the colon, prostate, and others.

This should not come in surprise as developed nations tend to have obese populations greater than in other countries. The US is home to at least 109 million obese people, in a study conducted by Renew Bariatic. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, is home to 12 million obese people, or at least 28 percent of their population.

 

Photo by Steve Baker via Flickr

 

Lifestyle Change can lead to a cancer-free life

With these facts about cancer and how it affects people around the world, one can argue that the best way to save people is to live a healthy life aside from what they are familiar with.

Dr. Brawley seems to agree with this point, saying that “there is a lot a man can do to take charge of his health and reduce his cancer risk.” While it cannot be fully quantified or guarantee that changing or shifting to a healthier life can eliminate the risk of getting cancer, at the very least, these risks are being greatly minimized.

“The health benefits come with the added bonus of improving heart health at the same time,” Dr. Brawley concluded.

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