Taking action against death threatening scourge – cancer

Monday, February 3rd, 2020 00:00 |
Cancer test,

Christine Nderitu

January was cervical cancer observance month, and a lot of activities took place including the launch of Kenya’s second national cervical cancer awareness week and a walk in Kanthonzweni, Makueni county.

Tomorrow, February 4, is World Cancer Day. The aim of these observances is to increase awareness about these ailments, which experts warn could be responsible for 13 million deaths per year if action is not taken. 

Today, we know a lot more about cancer than we did a few years ago. We know that more than one third of the cancers can be prevented.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has been shown to prevent cervical cancer as well as mouth and throat cancer linked to HPV in men, while hepatitis B virus vaccine prevents liver cancer. 

According to World Health Organisation (2018) at least a third of the common cancers can be prevented by a healthy diet, healthy weight and physical activity.

Further, smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer, while tobacco products have been shown to cause other cancers including blood cancer (Cancer Research UK).

Limited consumption of alcohol has also been shown to reduce the risk of several cancers including bowel cancers.

In addition, ultraviolet radiation has been shown to cause skin cancer while workplace hazardous chemicals have been shown to cause certain cancers. 

Taking action

With this information, as individuals, we can adopt healthy practices that minimise the risk of cancer such as quitting tobacco, limiting alcohol use, eating a healthy diet and maintaining healthy weight. You should also ensure you as well as our loved ones get vaccinated. 

Schools can champion healthy lifestyles through good nutrition and physical activity.

Workplace can also promote healthy lifestyles by putting in place policies that protect against exposure to cancer-causing agents, providing smoke free spaces as well as promoting good nutrition and physical activity.

The government also needs to implement programmes that promote prevention as well screening since a good third of cancers are curable if detected and treated early.  

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