Cancer seems to be one of the world’s most dangerous and scariest killer diseases in the world today. The word cancer will always create a huge fear in every human on this earth. Before now, there have been other deadly diseases that claimed lives within a short period of time. At some point, it was rumoured that cancer was not really an Africa disease because cancer was little heard of in Africa. But in our today’s world, this dreaded disease has found its way into every continent, including the African continent, killing people more than ever before.
The Nigerian masses who loved the former DG of NAFDAC, Prof. Dora Akunyili are still crying over her untimely demise as a result of this dreaded disease called cancer. Now, it is all over the news again that the former Minister of Petroleum Mrs Diezani Madueke, is suffering from cancer; recent photos of her on social media lend credence to the news.
What really is cancer and what are the causes of this disease; in fact, what is it all about? Biologically speaking, cancer is the term used to describe the collection of diseases that arise due to the uncontrolled growth and spread of cells in the body. These abnormal cells escape the biological restrictions that keep the growth of most normal cells under control. In cancers, cells become malignant, growing continuously, competing with other cells for nutrients and space and, in the worst cases, spreading to other parts of the body. The majority of deaths from cancer are due to secondary tumours, and not the primary tumour. Cancers develop for a wide range of reasons. Certain cancers, such as cervical cancer and Karposi’s sarcoma are caused by viral infections, while many other cancers are caused by mutations that occur in the DNA of cells. According to an article by Adrienne Edkins (Scienceinafrica.com), the disease is usually fatal unless it is treated by surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. Some common risk factors of cancer are aging, tobacco, sun exposure, chemical and other substances, some viruses and bacteria, certain hormones, family history of cancer, poor diet and other factors that might seem not to be clear to scientists.
Cancer is a terrible disease that is killing people globally more than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and any other dreaded disease. Though Africans believed cancer to be a disease of Europe and America, yet, as it is now, cancer affects more Africans than perhaps the Americans. Researches (scienceinafrica.com) revealed that the risk of dying from a range of cancers in many African countries is greater than that in the USA or UK. Over half of the approximately 8 million deaths from cancer in 2008 occurred in populations in the developing world and this is expected to increase to over two thirds in the next 20 years. Certain cancers appear to disproportionately affect African populations. In some cases, this is due to an underlying infectious causative agent, such as Karposi’s sarcoma. Karposi’s sarcoma in Africa is predominantly an AIDS-related cancer caused by a virus called human herpes virus 8 (HHV8) and develops in the background of the immunocompromised individual. But it is not only cancers caused by on-co-viruses that affect the African community. It is estimated that more than half of breast cancer deaths occur in women who live in developing countries. Data from American studies suggest that while white women are more likely to develop breast cancer, black women are more likely to develop a highly aggressive form of this disease known as triple-negative breast cancer. This type of breast cancer is often resistant to treatment and affects younger women. Only a third of sufferers of triple negative breast cancer will survive longer than 5 years even with therapy. This indeed is a scary event. HIV has long been in existence, yet some people are ignorant of it, however, it is time to speak more about cancer to create awareness to the entire world.
It is good news that research has shown that there are ways by which one can prevent different types of cancer; and you must have probably heard conflicting reports about cancer prevention. Sometimes the specific cancer-prevention tip recommended in one study or news report is advised against in another. In many cases, what is known about cancer prevention is still evolving. However, it’s well accepted that your chances of developing cancer are affected by the lifestyle choices you make. If you are concerned about cancer prevention, take comfort in the fact that some simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference. Use these seven cancer prevention tips and live a healthy and longer life.
Avoid the use tobacco: Tobacco will put you on a collision course with cancer. Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas. Even if you don’t use tobacco, exposure to second-hand smoke might increase your risk of lung cancer. When you avoid tobacco or decide to stop using it, that will be one of the most important health decisions you can make. It’s also an important part of cancer prevention. If you need help quitting tobacco, ask your physician about stop-smoking products and other strategies for quitting.
Eat healthy balanced diet: You can eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, limit processed meat and avoid obesity. Eating lighter and leaner by choosing fewer high-calorie foods, including refined sugars and fat from animal sources is a sure way to help prevent cancer.
Maintain healthy weight: Maintaining a healthy weight might lower the risk of various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney.
Physical activity: Engage in physical activity because it counts, too. In addition to helping you control your weight, physical activity on its own might lower the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.
Protect yourself from the sun: Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer and one of the most preventable. Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are at its peak. When you’re outdoors, you can stay in the shade as much as possible. Sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat help, too.
Get immunized: Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections. Talk to your doctor about immunization against Hepatitis B which can increase the risk of developing liver cancer. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical and other genital cancers as well as squamous cell cancers of the head and neck.
Get a regular medical care: Regular self-examination and screenings for various types of cancers such as cancers of the skin, colon, cervix and breast can increase your chances of discovering cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Ask your doctor about the best cancer screening schedule for you.
Follow these cancer prevention tips starting today, and the rewards will last a lifetime.