Cancer is a reality that many Canadians will one day have to face. It is important to know that there are various preventive measures that can be taken.
What is cancer?
The term "cancer" groups together a number of diseases characterized by abnormal cells that multiply and spread uncontrollably to an organ or to an area of the body. It can develop in many areas of the body: breast, prostate, lung, intestine, stomach, pancreas, etc. Since there are many types of cancer, there are many risk factors. Each type of cancer has its own characteristics. The outcome of a cancer also depends on several factors.
How can cancer be prevented?
The risk of cancer is determined by several factors that cannot be modified, such as age, sex, and heredity. It is also linked to poor lifestyle choices that can be modified. It is estimated that 40 to 50% of cancers could be prevented by making healthier lifestyle choices.
Here are five examples of healthy living practices from a preventive perspective.
As you know, smoking is your health’s worst enemy. Smoking increases the risk of lung, mouth, throat, stomach, pancreatic, and bladder cancer, among others. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4 000 chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic. Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to stay healthy and prevent cancer.
Speak to your pharmacist if you are considering to quit smoking.
For additional information, read the following text: Smoke cessation: information to achieve success.
Stay active, watch what you eat, and maintain a healthy weight.
You are more likely to get cancer if you have a poor diet, are sedentary or are overweight. In fact, experts say that physical activity, good nutrition, and a healthy weight can prevent about one-third of cancer cases. Therefore, adopting a healthy lifestyle in these three aspects is essential and has a great number of benefits that go far beyond that of cancer prevention.
For additional information, read the following text: All you need to know about nutrition.
Use alcohol in moderation.
Excessive alcohol consumption predisposes you to several types of cancers, including the esophagus, larynx, liver, mouth, pharynx, breast, colon, and rectum. According to Éduc’alcool, if you are a woman, you should limit your alcohol consumption to two drinks a day and no more than ten a week; if you are a man, limit your consumption to three drinks a day and no more than fifteen a week. Allow yourself some “alcohol-free days” (at least one a week).
For additional information, read the following text: Alcohol: steer the course.
Protect your skin from the sun.
The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays have a direct effect on mood and a beneficial effect on health: they allow the production of vitamin D. However, you must be cautious, as UV rays also carry significant risks. The biggest concern is the increased risk of skin cancer due to the damage that UV rays cause to the DNA of skin cells.
It is estimated that 50 to 70% of skin cancers are directly related to overexposure to the sun. Some types of skin cancers can be very serious, even fatal. Therefore, it is important to protect yourself from the sun’s rays regardless of your age. Your pharmacist can provide information about sun protection.
For additional information, read the following text: The harmful effects of the sun on skin and health.
See your doctor regularly and get screened.
To stay healthy, you should see your doctor regularly and follow their recommendations, especially for cancer detection and screening. Timely detection or screening will not shield you from cancer. However, it will allow you to take timely action to prevent disease progression if a tumor is detected, which can improve your prognosis.
For additional information, speak to your doctor and visit the Canadian Cancer Society at www.cancer.ca.
Don't hesitate to speak to your pharmacist for information about maintaining healthy habits or about cancer prevention.