World Cancer Awareness Day: 17 people die every minute from cancer

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By Dr Azadeh

World Cancer Day, organized by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and celebrated each year on 4 February, is an opportunity to rally the international community to end the injustice of preventable suffering from cancer.
This year’s theme, “I can, we can” acknowledges that everyone has the capacity to address the cancer burden. We can work together to reduce cancer risk factors. We can overcome barriers to early diagnosis, treatment and palliative care. We can work together to improve cancer control and achieve global targets to reduce premature mortality from cancer and NCDs.

World Cancer Day is an international day marked on February 4 to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.
World Cancer Day was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration, written in 2008. The primary goal of World Cancer Day is to significantly reduce illness and death caused by cancer[1] and is an opportunity to rally the international community to end the injustice of preventable suffering from cancer.]
World Cancer Day targets misinformation, raises awareness, and reduces stigma. Multiple initiatives run on World Cancer Day to show support for those affected by cancer. One of these movements is #NoHairSelfie, a global movement to have “participants” shave their heads either physically or virtually to show a symbol of courage for those undergoing cancer treatment.[5] Images of participants are then shared over social media. Hundreds of events around the world also take place.

World Cancer Day 2019: Foods and Drinks That Are Most Likely To Increase Risk of Cancer
World Cancer Day 2019: The estimated number of deaths due to cancer in 2018 was 9.5 million, which amounts to a whopping 26,000 deaths a day. This number is expected to increase as environmental stresses increase, air quality worsens, lifestyles and eating habits too!

Highlights
1. World Cancer Day is an international day, marked on 4th Feb
2. Always opt for fresh and local produce
3. Switching to artificial sweeteners to cut down calories is not wise
World Cancer Day is an international day, which is marked on 4th February to increase awareness of cancer, and to encourage its prevention, early detection and treatment. Every year the theme has its own theme. The theme for World Cancer Day 2019 is – ‘I am and I will’. The estimated number of deaths due to cancer in 2018 was 9.5 million, which amounts to a whopping 26,000 deaths a day. This number is expected to increase as environmental stresses increase, air quality worsens, lifestyles and eating habits too!
Apart from the above, there are some factors which increase cancer risk, these include:
increasing age
stressful lifestyle associated with poor nutritional status owing to low fruit & vegetable intake
use of tobacco, alcohol
chronic infections
Being overweight too increases the risk of breast, esophageal, colorectal, ovarian and endometrial cancer.
Foods which can increase risk of cancers of different types include:
Charred meats: When red meat and processed meats are grilled to a high temperature and charred, it produces DNA damaging heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. So cook on medium heat, flipping at intervals; baking at moderate temperature and broiling are also safe cooking methods.
Microwavable popcorn: The bag of microwavable popcorns is lined with perfluoro-octanoic acid (PFOA) which is a likely carcinogen. The corn kernels are genetically modified and the fumes released from the artificial butter contain diacetyl and are toxic to humans. So make your popcorns the traditional way.
Hydrogenated fats: Change the shape of cellular membranes and promote the growth of abnormal cells, these are definitely very harmful. These should be replaced with a variety of healthier fats & oils like desi ghee, coconut oil, mustard oil, groundnut oil etc used in moderation.

Sodas: Sodas are a deadly concoction of harmful colors, preservatives loaded with tons of sugar and hidden sugars. So remain loyal to the good, old nimboo-pani or nimboo soda; adding a little bit of sugar is not harmful. What is harmful is the hidden sugar added by the manufacturers in processed and packaged foods.
Packaged foods containing hidden sugars: Hidden sugars like high fructose corn syrup are one of the major cancer causing foods which leads to spikes in serum insulin and also feeds cancer cells. All sources of hidden sugars like bakeries, confectionaries, biscuits, ready to eat breakfast cereals, energy bars and the so-called health drinks etc should be avoided.
Artificial sweeteners: Switching to artificial sweeteners to save some calories is not a wise decision either. Several studies have shown a link between artificial sweeteners and cancer risk in lab studies.

Canned foods: The lining of most cans contain bisphenol A (BPA) which is known to increase cancer risk. Many plastic packaging also contain BPA. Of canned goods, tomatoes and its products are the worst because their acidity causes more BPA to leach into the food.

Highly salted foods:
Regular consumption of highly salted foods like cured meats, salted fish etc can lead to stomach cancer by damaging the stomach lining and causing inflammation. Always opt for fresh and local produce.
Processed & smoked meats: Excess consumption of processed meats including ham, bacon, sausages and salami can increase the risk of some cancers. When smoked foods are cooked at high temperatures, the nitrates present in them (that have been added to prolong shelf life) convert into the more dangerous nitrites.

Fats
Alcohol: Several studies have established the link between alcohol intake and cancer though the exact mechanism is not understood. It could be through promoting weight gain. Moderation in consumption is critical to minimize its damaging effects.
Pesticide residues in foods have adverse health effects and may increase the risk of cancers. One simple way to eliminate some pesticide residue is to dip your fruits, vegetable and fresh produce in a vessel containing 4 parts water and 1 part vinegar for about 20 minutes and then rinse with clean water.

There are some food items that help in preventing the growth of cancer cells. These include turmeric, garlic, citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, purple-red fruits & veggies, high-fiber whole grains, nuts & seeds, beans, leafy veggies etc. Regular consumption of these, abstinence from smoking, alcohol and an overall healthy diet and lifestyle can help reduce cancer risk.
There were an estimated 18 million cancer cases around the world in 2018, of these 9.5 million cases were in men and 8.5 million in women. The most common cancers globally are listed in the table below.

With this growing global burden, prevention of cancer is one of the most significant public health challenges of the 21st century. Our Cancer Prevention Recommendations work together as an overall way of living healthily to prevent cancer through changing dietary patterns, reducing alcohol consumption, increasing physical activity and achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight – read our blog here.
As well as action by individuals, achieving healthy patterns of diet and sustained physical activity over the life course requires concerted and integrated action from all sectors of society, including civil society, private sector, and health and other professions. Read more about policy action for cancer prevention here.

Global cancer incidence: both sexes
Lung and breast cancers were the most common cancers worldwide, each contributing 12.3% of the total number of new cases diagnosed in 2018.
Colorectal cancer was the third most common cancer with 1.8 million new cases in

DR H. AZADEH Senior Lecturer at the University of the Gambia, Senior Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Clinical Director at Medicare Health Services.