These days it seems like every time I lift my head to check up on what is going on in the world, someone is being diagnosed with or has just died from cancer. Cancer, the big bad wolf that spares no demography, has either plagued a loved one, a jeopardy game show host or a random person on twitter asking for funds to treat it. No matter who its prey is, being reminded of its existence never ceases to be depressing. Closing your eyes and telling yourself that it can’t happen to me isn’t good enough anymore.
According to WHO, cancer is the second leading cause of death, with an estimated 18.1 million new cases of cancer in 2018 alone and about 9.6 million deaths in the same year. Yes, you heard correctly, 18.1 million new cases. Considering this occurrence is expected to remain the same or even possibly rise over the next couple of years, that’s basically saying that from now till ten years into the future, about 180 million people are expected to get cancer if nothing changes.
The IARC says that one in 5 men and one in 6 women worldwide develop cancer during their lifetime and one in 8 men and one in 11 women die from the disease. If that’s not scary, I don’t know what is. Okay, I must confess I am being a little too dark, things are not all that bad. As the incidence of new cases arises, fewer people are dying from cancer and more are living longer lives post getting a cancer diagnosis.
With billions of dollars being dumped into cancer research for diagnosis and new methods of treatment, cancer patients are getting a much better prognosis. But even then, a lot of people are still dying from cancer which is such a shame, not just because of, well, death, but also because a huge chunk of cancer cases are said to be avoidable. The World Health Organisation says about 30 to 50 percent of cancer cases can be prevented. Clearly, the rich and privileged are already on to this fact. Approximately 70% of deaths from cancer occur in low and middle-income countries like Nigeria. The American cancer society claims that there has been a steady decline in the number of new cancer cases in American men. Stay woke.
These occurrences are probably due to progressive global industrialization. We are eating more junk, drinking more toxins and breathing in substances that our bodies were not designed to tolerate. Yes, cancer treatments are getting better but prevention is better than cure. So here are a few pointers that you need to know to hopefully help you and me reduce our chances of getting cancer.
Cancer sticks and Lung cancer
At this point, if you are still smoking cigarettes, in 2019, I don’t even know what to tell you. Tobacco smoking is responsible for up to 85 percent of lung cancer and let’s not stop there, it is also linked to cancer of the esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach and cervix. And this is not only for smokers, but second-hand smoke is also linked to lung cancer in nonsmokers. So that cancer stick in your hand is not just killing you but those that surround you. Tobacco smoke is said to have about 7000 chemicals, 250 of which are harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer. So please throw away those demonic cylinders into the trash where they belong. And for nonsmokers, know that someone smoking around you is not just an inconvenience but a potential threat to your life.
Speaking of lung cancer, it is the deadliest type of cancer in men and second deadliest in women (after breast cancer). And it’s not just cigarettes that cause it.
Asbestos has also been linked to it; it is a material that is commonly used in buildings, especially for roofing. It has already been banned in most countries but be cautious of the materials used in the buildings you live and work in.
Air pollution is another obvious health risk, especially in big cities or if you live around factories that produce a lot of smoke. I don’t expect you to uproot your life and leave such places but things like avoiding busy roads or construction areas which produce a lot of smoke can help reduce the amount of polluted air you breathe in. Masks can be effective but the quality, type of mask and proper usage matter a lot.