Health crisis: Cancer spike blamed on lifestyle, environment

Thursday, August 1st, 2019 00:00 |
Cancer scourge.

Today, we are facing a health crisis of monumental proportions, as cancer devours the very fabric of our society. There seems to be no respite in managing cancer. No one is exempt from its claws, apparently.

In a span of one week, we have lost two VIPs to cancer. Condolences to the families, friends and constituents of the late Kibra MP Ken Okoth, and former Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso. 

More so, let us think seriously of the countless people perishing without the decency of a spirited medical fight. There are many types of cancer from different causes. According to data from the National Cancer Control Strategy 2017-2022, leading cancers in men include prostate, karposi sarcoma and cancer of the oesophagus. 

The report notes that women suffer more from cancers of the breast, cervix and oesophagus. 

Current statistics from the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organisation indicate that we are losing more than  30,000 lives annually from cancer, placing the scourge as the third leading cause of death in the country, next to infectious and cardiovascular diseases. 

The first step in curbing a cancer-driven health disaster is to map out the types with the highest rates, and then identify the specific elements or factors leading to the condition.

On top of the list is diet, which could explain the high rate of cancers affecting the stomach and colon. 

The excessive consumption of artificial sugars, particularly in fizzy drinks, and transient fats in animal products and deep fried foods, is a major culprit.

 It is claimed that cancer cells thrive best in environments rich in concentrated sugar and processed foods. 

Thank goodness that, at last, the Kenya government has banned the use of plastics. People have been warned against heating food in microwave ovens using plastic containers. 

An emerging school of thought claims that consuming hot foodstuffs and liquids in heated plastics could cause cancer of the stomach and the digestive system. 

Could we also be consuming toxic foods? Some medical experts observe that years of poisoning our soils with the now banned DDT and other highly toxic chemicals could be contributing to the sudden spike in cancers found predominantly in agricultural zones.

There is also ongoing research about the relation between radiation from mobile phones and, for instance, brain tumours.

Barring other triggers, I find that I usually get a headache if I sleep with my phone near my head. 

Research is also ongoing on prevalence of cancer by region. Currently, a media survey shows that compared to other regions, Central is hardest hit by the scourge. 

This could be caused by loss of cultural practices which acted as crucial safeguards against environmental vagaries.

We may not go back to consuming yams and arrow roots exclusively as staple diets, but we should drastically reduce junk food consumption, and be more creative with traditional cuisine. As they say, we should eat food as medicine. 

Also, let us stop the stereotypical condemnation of tobacco and alcohol, while conveniently ignoring the massive air, water and land pollution among us. 

We need to look to the East, and find out how the correlation between their overall good health and longevity on one hand, and minimal medication on the other. The writer is a communication expert, and public policy analyst. [email protected]

More on News