Cancer is an illness that can be associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Cancer happens due to uncontrolled or unregulated growth of cells due to a process called mutation (alteration of cell’s genetic material), the cause of which may be genetic, environmental, or both. Nevertheless, what pushes the body into it (excluding genetic factors) is an unhealthy lifestyle. Many things can be done to reduce the risk of developing cancers. For example, avoiding exposure to tobacco in all forms can swiftly steer you away from developing cancers of the oral cavity, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, etc. Tobacco is commonly used in cigarettes and combined with other chemicals found in it, it can damage cell DNA over time.
Another easy way in which you can help prevent cancer is by exercising and maintaining ideal body weight. An obese person has more risk of developing cancer and obese women are especially prone to breast cancer. The consumption of healthy food can be greatly beneficial to the body. This is a greatly beneficial lifestyle measure as it also keeps other diseases under check such as diabetes, high blood pressure.
With the advent of modern technology, it is undeniable that healthcare got a much-needed boost with medical imaging technologies such as CT scans and PET scans. These imaging techniques are very much essential for diagnosing a variety of conditions. However, these technologies also come with risks of their own, if used without following the appropriate protocols. These non-invasive technologies use ionizing radiation to form two-dimensional or three-dimensional images of the body parts for diagnostic purposes. Repeated exposure to these high-energy radiations (Especially getting CT scans multiple times) can be detrimental to health in the long term, as they can slowly but surely damage DNA. Having said that, the benefits of using a CT scan once in a while to diagnose a condition or perform a procedure are significantly greater than the risks (The risk of getting cancer is very small). So do not panic if you are being subjected to a CT scan for making a diagnosis or for treatment. However, you must adhere to safety protocols in testing centers and labs. The safety protocol is to be followed in other areas of high ionizing radiation too such as nuclear power plants etc.
Minimizing exposure to sunlight can seem like such a simple and possibly unnecessary thing to do but make no mistake; ultraviolet radiation from the sun is one of the biggest causes of skin cancer. UV beams in sunlight can cause DNA damage and lead to cancer. Also, overexposure to sunlight can cause sunburns and severe dehydration as well. Therefore, wear defensive hats, long sleeves, and sunscreen products with an SPF of at least 15 to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful radiations.
Along with the above-mentioned methods, getting immunized against viruses, especially against HPV and Hepatitis B viruses can help in preventing cancers. HPV vaccine prevents cervical cancer in women while Hepatitis B vaccine prevents Hepatitis B infection. Chronic HBV infection is a risk factor for the development of liver cancer.
As it implies, healthy lifestyle choices are always dependent on people. Taking some simple steps to living a healthier lifestyle will not only help prevent serious diseases such as cancer but will also contribute to better physical and mental health. As the bodily functions thrive without hindrances, the mental faculties shall also flow. Therefore, live and promote a healthy lifestyle to protect you and your community against lifestyle diseases.
(The author is Dr. Sudarshan S, Consultant Physician, Medall Healthcare)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of India TV)