With World Cancer Day around the corner, it is time to take cognisance of this dreadful disease, build awareness, and learn how we can reduce our risks
The number of people being detected with cancer in India is alarming. Most recently, you would have heard of celebrities fighting their battle with cancer. From Sonali Bendre to Irrfan Khan to Tahira Kashyap (Actor Ayushmann Khurrana's wife) the disease is unforgiving and impartial. We hope you never have to deal with it, but it is important to be aware, alert, and proactive if it does strike you.
World Cancer Day is the perfect time to spread awareness, learn how you can live a healthy life, and take all the precautionary measures you possibly can.
Here are some cancer-related facts that will shock you and push you to spring into action:
- The deadly disease has more than doubled in India over the last 26 years.
- Cancer is the second most common cause of death in India. The top cause is cardiovascular disease.
- One woman dies of cervical cancer every 8 minutes in India. More women in India die from cervical cancer than in any other country.
- For every 2 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, one woman dies of it in India.
- 2.25 million people are estimated to be living with the disease.
- 11,57,294 lakh new cancer patients are registered every year in the country.
- Males are 9.81% at risk of developing cancer before the age of 75, while females have a 9.42% risk.
- There were 7,84,821 deaths due to cancer in 2018 (Men: 4,13,519, Women: 3,71,302).
- 3,17,928 deaths were caused in 2018 due to usage of tobacco in India.
- On an average, 2500 people die every day in India due to tobacco-related diseases.
- Risk of dying from cancer before the age of 75 is 7.34% in males and 6.28% in females.
- Oral cavity and lung cancer account for over 25% of cancer deaths in males.
- Breast and oral cavity cancer account for 25% of cancer in females.
- The Indian government has identified four cancers that constitute 41% of all cancer cases. These are breast cancer, cervical cancer, oral cancer, and lung cancer.
Tips on living a healthy life
These alarming numbers prompt the question: How can one live a healthy life and beat the odds of being affected by cancer?
- Do not use tobacco in any form. It is the highway to cancer. It can lead to cancer of the lung, mouth, kidney, bladder, and cervix.
- Eat a balanced diet. Cut down consumption of salty and sweet foods, and sugary drinks. Avoid processed foods. Have more leafy vegetables, fruits, legumes and proteins, and less red meat.
- Eat foods that can lower your risk of cancer. Increase consumption of broccoli, carrots, beans, cinnamon, nuts, flaxseeds, citrus fruits, olive oil, etc.
- Limit consumption of alcohol. Don’t have more than three drinks a week.
- Lead an active lifestyle. Ensure you get some exercise every day for 30 minutes. Choose whatever activity you like. Take a brisk walk, swim, dance, do yoga, or hit the gym.
- Avoid taking supplements as much as possible. Try to meet nutritional needs from natural foods. This is because supplements can have unexpected adverse side effects.
- Wear sunscreen 20 minutes before you step out. Exposure to sun is the number one cause of skin cancer. Cover yourself well. Use hats and sunglasses to minimise exposure.
- Avoid tanning beds like the plague. They can give you the ‘just returned from a tropical island sun-kissed look’, but they are also an open invitation to cancer. Tanning beds are more damaging than natural sunlight.
- Get vaccinated for Hepatitis B and HPV (human papillomavirus). Practice safe sex and never share needles. Sexually transmitted diseases can lead to liver cancer, and cervical and genital cancers.
- Regularly get yourself checked. Learn how to do a breast self-examination. Get yourself screened by a doctor annually. You have a much higher chance of beating cancer if it’s caught early.
Get health insurance cover
The financial cost of getting cancer treatment done can break the bank. A comprehensive health insurance plan with a rider for critical illness can help mitigate the financial risk that comes along with an ailment as serious as cancer.
Most insurers have a minimum three-year waiting period before the benefit of the policy kicks in, which makes it important to be proactive and invest in a good health plan pronto. Learn why a critical illness rider is imperative and if your health insurance plan is adequate to cover critical illness.
This World Cancer Day, educate yourself about the disease and the preventive measures you can take to minimise risk. Do not forget to share this information with your friends and family to help build a world that is ready to fight and win against cancer.