World Cancer Day Focuses on Top Recommendations for Preventing Cancer

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One of the most prevailing myths about cancer is that there is nothing you can do to prevent the disease. World Cancer Day 2014 has set a goal to inform the world that cancer can be preventable and that diet is a major focus toward preventing illness.

Today, February 4 2014, is World Cancer Day, a chance to raise our voices in the name of improving knowledge about cancer and dismissing misconceptions about the disease. The most common misunderstandings about cancer are:
• We Don’t Need to Talk About Cancer
• There are No Signs or Symptoms of Cancer
• There is Nothing I Can Do to Prevent Cancer
• I Don’t Have the Right to Cancer Care

Anew global cancer report compiled by UN Agency, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) shows that:
• As a single entity, cancer is the biggest cause of mortality worldwide - there were an estimated 8.2 million deaths from cancer in 2012
• Global cancer incidence over four years increased by 11% to an estimated 14.1 million cases in 2012 – equal to the population of India’s largest city (Mumbai)
• Cancer cases worldwide are forecast to rise by 75% and reach close to 25 million over the next two decades

Unfortunately, a survey conducted by the World Cancer Research Fund for World Cancer Day has found that 34% of participants incorrectly believe that the chances of getting cancer are mainly due to family history of the disease. In truth, only 5-10% of cancers are linked to inherited genes.

Most of the prevalent cancers today are a result of other factors, which include our lifestyle choices about diet and exercise.

"In the UK, about a third of the most common cancers could be prevented through being a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and being regularly physically active,” says Amanda McLean, World Cancer Research Fund’s General Manager. “These results show that many people still seem to mistakenly accept their chances of getting cancer as a throw of the dice. But by making lifestyle changes today, we can help prevent cancer tomorrow."

World Cancer Research Fund, along with the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), is working to let people know there is a lot they can do to prevent cancer. Based on the compilation of more than 7,000 research studies, the team has focused on the top eight areas for everyone to focus on for cancer prevention:

Keep your weight at a healthy level – meaning a BMI of between 18.5 and 25. After smoking, staying in shape is the most important way you can reduce your risk of cancer, as well. Cancers most strongly linked to being overweight include bowel, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, endometrium, breast and possibly gallbladder cancers.

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Be active for at least 30 minutes every day. There is strong evidence that exercise can protect against bowel cancer. It may also protect against breast cancer in postmenopausal women and endometrial cancer.

Avoid “junk” foods that are high in fat and sugar. Studies indicate that diets made up of too many energy-dense foods, particularly processed foods, increase the risk of becoming overweight or obese which in turn increases the risk of a range of cancers, including bowel and breast.

Eat more plants! A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may protect against oral cancers (mouth, pharynx and larynx), esophageal cancer, stomach cancer and lung cancer.

Eat less meat. There is strong evidence linking red meat to bowel cancers, possibly because the compound that gives red meat its color may damage the lining of the bowel.

Skip the alcohol. There is evidence that all types of alcoholic drinks are linked to a number of cancers, including oral, esophageal, breast, and bowel cancers. It is also possibly linked to an increased risk of liver cancer.

Reduce salt intake. You probably are already aware that too much salt can increase the risk of high blood pressure. But did you also know that it could increase the risk of stomach cancer as well? About 75% of the salt we eat comes from processed foods. The remaining 25% is added during cooking or at the table.

Eat real food – skip the supplements. There have been several studies recently that link high doses of specific vitamins and minerals to an increased risk of cancer.

Adams, Chief Executive Officer at UICC, said: "Governments around the world … must recognize the growing cancer burden in their country and act on it now. On World Cancer Day, we demand that health leaders commit to reducing the millions of predicted, needless and premature deaths caused by cancer by focusing efforts and funds on proven preventive and early detection
measures."

Resource: World Cancer Day; World Cancer Research Fund

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