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A discussion on cancer and its prevention and treatments

  1. This causes damage to the molecules that make up the cancer cells and leads them to commit suicide. If you smoke, quit.
  2. Innovations continue to be developed to aid the surgical process, such as the iKnife that "sniffs" out cancer.
  3. Balancing these risks and benefits is key.
  4. Not smoking and avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke can greatly reduce the risk of lung, kidney, bladder, and head and neck cancer.

Unfortunately, most people remain unclear about the key steps they can take to lower their risk 3. The good news, though, is that when all this evidence is looked at together, eight simple tips rise to the surface. These include things like, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco.

And while there are additional steps on top of these that can reduce the risk of some individual cancers see Twelve Preventable Cancersthese eight behaviors provide the greatest benefit for the most cancers and can also go a long way toward preventing other serious chronic diseases, like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Also see preventing cancer with the HPV vaccine. About half of all smokers will die from a smoking-related disease, like cancer, heart disease, and chronic obstructive lung disease. Globally, tobacco causes just over five million deaths a year 6 and is projected to cause 1 billion deaths worldwide by the end of the century 6.

The single best way to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases is not to smoke. In the United States alone, over 160,000 cancer deaths could be avoided each year if tobacco were somehow miraculously eliminated from the earth 7 Preventing teens and young adults from taking up smoking provides the biggest health benefits, yet despite stepped up efforts to prevent tobacco use, approximately 18 percent of adults in the United States still smoke 7. Because of this, efforts to get smokers to stop smoking cessation have become increasingly common as well, yet only a small percentage of those trying to quit seek effective treatments that can help them stop 8.

Despite this, cessation has huge benefits. Within two years of quitting, a discussion on cancer and its prevention and treatments risk of many smoking-related diseases begin to drop, and after 10 — 20 years, the risk of lung cancer and most other tobacco-related diseases nearly equals that of non-smokers. A relatively new addition to the smoking discussion are electronic cigarettes, which are growing immensely in popularity and are often marketed as a safer alternative to standard tobacco cigarettes and as a tool for quitting smoking.

These battery-powered devices go by many different names — including e-cigs, vape pens, personal vaporizers, and hookah pens — and work by aerosolizing a nicotine-containing liquid that is then inhaled. Though on the face of it electronic cigarettes would appear to be safer than standard tobacco cigarettes, there are many unknown questions about their risks and benefits.

Until those questions are answered, avoiding electronic cigarettes is best. Smokers looking for help quitting should talk to a doctor about FDA-approved cessation aids, like gum, lozenges, patches, and certain medications.

Maintain a healthy weight Although weight is one of the most important risk factors for cancer, a recent survey by the American Institute for Cancer Research found that around half of people are unaware of the link 3, 9. Very good evidence, though, shows that about 120,000 deaths from cancer could be avoided each year in the United States if everyone stayed at a healthy weight throughout life 10.

Carrying extra weight, particularly being obese defined as BMI greater than or equal to 30 A discussion on cancer and its prevention and treatments calculatorhas been strongly linked to an increased risk of cancers of the breast after menopausecolon, kidney, pancreas, esophagus adenocarcinomaovaries, and prostate. And there is growing evidence that obesity also increases the risk of leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the liver and gallbladder.

The way weight increases cancer risk varies from cancer to cancer. For example, estrogen produced by fat cells likely increases risk of postmenopausal breast cancer; blood sugar and insulin problems linked to being overweight likely increases risk of colon and pancreatic cancer; and weight-related irritations caused by gallstones and acid reflux likely increase the risk of cancers of the gallbladder and esophagus, respectively.

The now well-known and disturbing trends in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States predict a growing burden of not only weight-related cancers but also heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

2. Maintain a healthy weight

Over the last two decades, rates of obesity have significantly increased across the nation. In 2000, no state had a rate of obesity of 30 percent or higher 11.

  • If you need help quitting tobacco, ask your doctor about stop-smoking products and other strategies for quitting;
  • If cancer is common in your family, it's possible that mutations are being passed from one generation to the next;
  • Ask your doctor about the best cancer screening schedule for you;
  • Covering exposed skin and using broad-spectrum sunscreen products with a sun protection factor SPF of at least 30 that protects against both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B light also help reduce the risk of skin cancer;
  • Rates of screening are much better for the Pap test, which screens for cervical cancer.

Today, 12 states do. Such trends, while most pronounced in the United States, are being expressed worldwide as well, pointing to a huge future global burden from weight-related diseases. Such numbers demonstrate the need to continue and accelerate weight control efforts that cut across many different parts of society — schools, workplaces, communities, and even social media.

There is a suggestion that such concerted efforts are beginning to have a positive effect in certain groups of children 13. Such progress, though, is just a start and needs to be used to energize further efforts that will have a much broader impact for all.

Exercise regularly The health benefits of regular physical activity are well known. In addition to lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure, it also helps prevent cancer.

For breast cancer, regular exercise lowers risk for both premenopausal and postmenopausal women.

Cancer: Treatments and Prevention

Getting out regularly to, say, walk or ride the bike likely lowers risk through multiple ways. It can improve immune function, which helps the body fight off infections linked to cancer. It can help maintain healthy levels of hormones like estrogen and progesterone in the blood.

And it can help women keep their weight in check. Growing evidence shows that the earlier regular exercise starts in life, the better it is when it comes to later adult breast cancer risk 16.

The time between when a girl starts her period and has her first child is key to the growth and development of the breasts. During this time, breast tissue seems more susceptible to harmful risk factors, which provides an important opportunity to lower adult breast cancer risk by eating a healthy diet, being physically, and staying at a healthy weight.

For colon cancer, the main mechanism seems to be that exercise can help control insulin levels, which can keep in check certain hormones and growth factors that can promote cancer in colon tissue. For all its benefits, activity is not the preferred pastime of most people in the United States. Approximately 30 percent of men and 34 percent of women get very little — or almost no — physical activity during their leisure time 17. Eat a healthy diet A healthy diet is key to overall health and can help lower the risk of many cancers.

While news coverage of the links between diet and cancer have been confusing at best, and misleading at worst, there is solid evidence that the way we eat has a real impact on cancer risk. Keeping calories in check, so weight stays in check, is the single most important change in diet people can make. Outside of calories, good evidence shows that a risk-reducing diet is: A daily multivitamin with folate can provide a nutrition insurance policy as well as added protection against certain cancers and other chronic diseases 21-23.

Folate is a B vitamin that has been shown to lower the risk of colon cancer, as well as breast cancer, in women who regularly drink alcohol. The calcium and vitamin D in most multivitamins may also help provide added protection against colon cancer 21, 24. Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all Alcohol has a discussion on cancer and its prevention and treatments complex role in health.

Balancing these risks and benefits is key. Although the benefits of moderate intake in older adults are well established, the cancer risk and potential for alcohol dependence means that non-drinkers should not be encouraged to start drinking. All heavy drinkers, though, should be encouraged to cut back to moderate levels, or stop altogether. Growing evidence strongly suggests that drinking in youth and young adulthood has a particularly important impact on later adult breast cancer risk 25.

Youth should completely avoid alcohol. Ideally, young adult women should as well; at a minimum, though, if they do drink, they should do so at moderate or lower levels — and avoid binge drinking.

For both breast cancer and colon cancer, alcohol likely increases risk by lowering levels of folate in the body, though there are other possible reasons. Folate has been shown in some studies to protect against cancer.

The lower levels caused by alcohol may therefore increase risk. Evidence, though, suggests that taking a folate supplement like a multivitamin may help eliminate some of the cancer risk linked to alcohol 26-28. Protect yourself from the sun. And avoid tanning beds Too much sun exposure is a well-known cause of skin cancer, including serious melanoma.

With melanoma rates rising steadily from year to year both in the United States and worldwide, proper sun protection is a key public health message. Yet in the United States, an increasing number of people are experiencing severe sun exposure. The percent of the population reporting a sun burn over the past year is rising, with a third reporting at least one sunburn, and about 20 percent reporting four or more 29.

  • Diet is also an important part of cancer prevention since what we eat has been linked to the disease;
  • Breast cancer hormone therapies often focus on reducing estrogen levels a common drug for this is tamoxifen and prostate cancer hormone therapies often focus on reducing testosterone levels;
  • You can find our cancer news section here;
  • Cancer refers to any one of a large number of diseases characterized by the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and have the ability to infiltrate and destroy normal body tissue.

Tanning bed use is also an important concern, particular in youth and young adults. The International Association for Research on Cancer labels indoor tanning carcinogenic to humans, and the increasing use of indoor tanning closely mimics the rise seen in melanoma rates. One analysis that looked at the results from multiple studies found that any level of use of tanning beds increased the risk of melanoma by around 20 percent 30. If use began before age 35, risk increased even more — by 90 percent.

To lower the risk of melanoma and other types of skin cancer take these steps: Protect yourself from infections Although not well known by the general public, infections play an important role in the development of some cancers. Approximately 23 percent of all cancers in lower income countries are linked to infections. In higher income countries, this number is seven percent.

In North America, it is four percent 31. Certain infections can either directly or indirectly cause changes that can lead to cancer. This can happen because of the chronic inflammation that some infections cause or by an infectious agent like a virus changing the behavior of infected cells. Infections that compromise the immune system like HIV also increase cancer risk by making the body less able to defend against infections that can cause cancer. Not surprisingly, infection-associated cancers are not a health burden borne equally by all.

The poor living conditions and inadequate health care experienced by many people worldwide increase the likelihood of cancer resulting from chronic infections. There are at least ten infectious agents that are known to increase the risk of cancer see tableand several of them are quite common. Yet, in most instances, only a small proportion of those infected actually go on to develop cancer because it takes a unique set of factors along with the infection to turn normal cells cancerous.

Still, these infectious agents have a substantial impact on cancer worldwide. HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that is linked to numerous cancers, with cervical cancer being the most important. Hepatitis B and C infect the liver and together account for the large majority of liver cancer. Finally, Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that infects the stomach, has been estimated to cause upwards of 75 percent of all stomach cancers, the fourth most common cancer worldwide.

The promise of prevention is a bright spot when looking at the reach of infection-associated cancers. HPV vaccination of both girls and boys can prevent cervical cancer as well as penile, anal, and throat cancers. The hepatitis B vaccine — which is growing in use — can prevent liver cancer. Treatment of Helicobactor pylori likely reduces stomach cancer risk. And improved screening for and treatment of Hepatitis C may lower liver cancer risk. Outside of vaccination and treatment, individuals can also lower the risk of infection-linked cancers by taking steps like avoiding blood exposure by not sharing needles, for examplepracticing safer sex and, for women, getting regular Pap tests and possibly HPV tests.

Further advances in vaccines — and in programs that administer them — offer much hope for prevention. Get screening tests regularly Having cancer screening tests at regular intervals is the single best way to protect against cancer. Screening tests for colon cancer help prevent cancer by finding and removing adenomatous polyps, which a discussion on cancer and its prevention and treatments abnormal growths that can go on to become cancer.

Regular screening with sigmoidoscopy, for example, has been shown to cut the risk of dying from colon cancer by 30 to 50 percent; fecal occult blood tests can cut colon cancer mortality by up to a quarter 32, 33.

And observational studies show that colonoscopy can cut the risk of colon cancer mortality by over half. Yet, a third of people in the United States who are age-eligible for colon cancer screening are still missing recommended tests 12, 34.