What Is Cancer?

We often view cancer as something that is foreign and not a part of us when the truth is that it is our own bodies’ cells that starts overgrowing and mutating for various reasons. We also think of cancer as one disease when it is actually a collection of related diseases.

Cancer can start anywhere in the human body’s more than a trillion cells and for most part go undetected for years until it becomes a real issue.  Most people will be completely asymptomatic and live relatively normal lives until diagnosed.

Facts are that most people with cancer will not have an early diagnosis of their cancer due to the varied symptoms they have and that are treated as everything under the sun except cancer.

What puts you at risk for cancer?

  • Physical carcinogens such as ultraviolet and ionizing radiation;
  • chemical carcinogens, such as asbestos, components of tobacco smoke, aflatoxin (a food contaminant), and arsenic (a drinking water contaminant);
  • biological carcinogens, such as infections from certain viruses, bacteria, or parasites;
  • tobacco use;
  • alcohol use;
  • unhealthy diets, especially a diet high in sugar, refined carbs and processed food;
  • obesity;
  • not being physically active (not exercising);
  • unhealthy lifestyles;
  • risky behaviour (such as drug use, unprotected sex, etc.).

Key facts

  •  Cancer is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with approximately 14 million new cases in 2012.
  • The number of new cases is expected to rise by about 70% over the next 2 decades.
  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer.
  • Approximately 70% of deaths from cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Around one third of deaths from cancer are due to the 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use.
  • Tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of cancer deaths.
  • Cancer causing infections, such as hepatitis and human papilloma virus (HPV), are responsible for up to 25% of cancer cases in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Late-stage presentation and inaccessible diagnosis and treatment are common. In 2015, only 35% of low-income countries reported having pathology services generally available in the public sector. More than 90% of high-income countries reported treatment services are available compared to less than 30% of low-income countries.
  • The economic impact of cancer is significant and is increasing. The total annual economic cost of cancer in 2010 was estimated at approximately US$ 1.16 trillion.
  • Only 1 in 5 low- and middle-income countries have the necessary data to drive cancer policy.

Modify and avoid risk factors

Modifying or avoiding key risk factors can significantly reduce the burden of cancer.

These risk factors include:

  • tobacco use including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco
  • being overweight or obese
  • unhealthy diet with low fruit and vegetable intake
  • lack of physical activity
  • alcohol use
  • sexually transmitted HPV-infection
  • infection by hepatitis or other carcinogenic infections
  • ionizing and ultraviolet radiation
  • urban air pollution
  • indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels.

Have your health checks folks, eat your veggies, lose weight and exercise daily!!!

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