Currently, 8.2 million people die from cancer worldwide every year, out of which, 4 million people die prematurely (aged 30 to 69 years). And here in Brunei, it was reported last year that deaths due to cancer rose 13 per cent between 2011 and 2013, making it the leading cause of death in the country. Cancer Day therefore aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about the disease, pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action.
It’s a fact that most cancers are caused by lifestyle factors—not genes. Over the years research has shown that poor diet and not being active are the two key factors that can increase a person’s cancer risk. The good news is that you can do something about this.
To reduce cancer risk, most people need to keep their BMIs below 25. If you are trying to control your weight, a good first step is to watch portion sizes, especially limit your intake of foods high in calories, fat, and added sugars. Try writing down what and how much you eat and drink for a week, then see where you can cut down on portion sizes, cut back on some not-so-healthy foods and drinks, or even both!
Exercise is one of the most important actions you can take to help guard against many types of cancer. Being overweight increases a woman’s risk of hormone related cancers, that is, breast and endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the womb). UK studies have shown that the risk of breast cancer is around 12% lower in the most active women compared to the least active. The more activity you do the more you reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Obese men may have a higher risk of bowel or prostate cancers and studies shows that exercise could reduce colon cancer risk by up to a quarter. In bowel cancer, exercise can reduce bowel inflammation and help to stop constipation resulting potential cancer causing substances remained in the bowel for a shorter time.
Exercise also helps in stress reducing. Especially for smokers, it certainly helps them to smoke less. Some doctors think that stress damages the immune system. In theory, a damaged immune system could help a cancer to start or to grow more quickly. Getting regular exercise certainly helps you to feel better and less stressed.
According to accredited guidelines a good goal is to aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day, five times a week. To get the most benefit, though, aim for about an hour a day. Adopting a healthier lifestyle is easier for people who live, work, play, or go to school in an environment that supports healthy behaviours. Working together, let’s help our communities create the type of environment where healthy choices are easy to make.
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