Cancer can be prevented, say medical experts

Lifestyle changes, early intervention can stop 60% of deaths.

By
February 1, 2012 23:10
3 minute read.
International Cancer Day

INTERNATIONAL CANCER DAY 390. (photo credit: Thinkstock)

 
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It is possible to prevent 60 percent of cancer deaths by lifestyle changes, early diagnoses and proven medical interventions, according to the Israel Cancer Association.

The ICA is marking International Cancer Day on February 4.

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Every year, 12.7 million people around the globe are diagnosed with cancer, and 600,000 die in an average month, a total of 7,200,000 a year. Estimates are that as the population ages, the world death rate from cancer will reach 12 million by the year 2030.

In Israel, 28,000 people – adults and children – are diagnosed yearly, and about 10,000 of them die of it. These figures, said the ICA, have not only huge personal implications but also major economic and societal effects.

The World Health Organization has stated in advance of the international day that of 57 million cases of death in 2008, 36 million resulted from non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes complications. If nothing is done to fight tobacco, the WHO says, the annual number of deaths caused by smoking will rise from 3.4 million now to 6.3 million in 2030.

The World Economic Forum in 2011 said obesity raises per-capita expenses for medical care by 36 percent, smoking by 21% and heavy use of alcohol by 10%. All of these increase the risk of death from cancer. Annual world expenditure for treating noncommunicable, lifestyle diseases is $30 trillion, it added. The forum said in 2009 that noncommunicable diseases is one of the greatest threats on the world economy. People with chronic diseases work as many as six hours less per week.

ICA Director-General Miri Ziv said that despite the worrisome statistics, scientific studies show that six cancer deaths out of 10 can be prevented by living a healthful life, early diagnosis, immunizations and adequate national allocation for interventions that have been proven effective.

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Cancer is the most damaging disease to the economy. The financial cost of 13 million new cancer patients each year was $290 billion in 2010. The figure is expected to reach $458b. in another 18 years.

There was good news, though. Breast cancer survival rates per year in Israel grew from 80.5% in 2002 to 86% in 2008.

The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) called on the various national government to allocate money to apply the International Cancer Treaty in their health systems and reduce death from cancer and other non-communicable diseases by a quarter in 2025.

The ICA pointed out that in the last decade, the prevalence of thyroid cancer has increased in all population groups, but especially in Arab women. It is considered a slowly growing tumor with a low death rate. While it is less common in the general public, it is more common in Arabs, even though the rate is very small. Survival from thyroid cancer is over 90% over five years.

To avoid a wide variety of cancers, maintain normal weight over the years, without yo-yo dieting. Exercise regularly and minimize the number of fattening foods you eat. Youth should exercise daily, if possible, but at least three times a week. Cut the number of hours you spent sitting or lying down and watching TV.

Minimize the amount of high-calorie, salty and sugary foods you eat and prefer vegetables, fiber and fruit. Poultry and fish are much preferable to red and fatty meat. Prefer baking and cooking to grilling and frying meat. Whole wheat products are much more healthful that those made from while flour.

Eating garlic reduces the risk of colorectal cancer, according to recent research. There is no evidence, the experts say, that artificial sweeteners used in normal quantities raise the cancer risk, and they are preferable to sugar.

There is no agreement among scientists that eating organic foods are more effective in reducing cancer risks than ordinary food, the ICA said. Wash produce with water (and soap if possible). Avoid trans fats that are produced from turning vegetable oil to solid fat such as margarine.

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