It seems that these days, in whatever company you find yourself, you hear about someone diagnosed with cancer.
The World Health Organisation has conducted research on cancer trends around the world and has made predictions based on these trends. The news is not good: it is expected that cancer in South Africa will increase with a staggering 75 to 81% from 2008 to 2030. Even if cancers caused by infections such as cervical cancer and cancers associated with Aids can be prevented, it is expected that lifestyle-related cancers will increase.
In rich and average countries, prostate and breast cancers are increasing while stomach and cervical cancers generally are declining. Lung cancer is decreasing among men but increasing among women. The seven most common types of cancer worldwide are lung cancer, female breast cancer, colorectal cancer, stomach cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer and cervical cancer.
In men of the UK, 6.1% (9,600) of cancer cases were linked to a lack of fruit and vegetables, 4.9% (7,800) to occupation, 4.6% (7,300) to alcohol, 4.1% (6,500) to overweight and obesity and 3.5% (5,500) to excessive sun exposure and sunbeds. In women, 6.9% (10,800) were linked to overweight and obesity, 3.7% (5,800) to infections such as HPV (which causes most cases of cervical cancer), 3.6% (5,600) to excessive sun exposure and sunbeds, 3.4% (5,300) to lack of fruit and vegetables and 3.3% (5,100) to alcohol.
Expensive price of progress
As the living standards of South Africans rise, they have more money to spend on luxury items, and tend to start following a westernised lifestyle, which includes a poor diet, lack of exercise and other bad habits associated with affluence. A westernised lifestyle increases the incidence of breast, prostate and colorectal cancers. Research has shown that this has already happened in other countries and, as third-world countries become more westernised, they too will succumb to this trend.
It is said that over 40% of cancers are due to lifestyle and therefore can be prevented. These include:
Although leading a healthy lifestyle cannot guarantee that you would never get cancer, you can significantly stack the odds in your favour. It is your decision whether you are going to follow a healthy lifestyle to decrease the risk.