40% of cancers can be avoided with good habits

This is a message launched for World Cancer Day.

World Cancer Day is celebrated on 4 February and for this reason, the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SSMO) has launched a powerful campaign that aims to remind us that, with a healthy lifestyle, between 30 and 50% of cancer cases could be avoided. Additionally, the chances of having a better prognosis, avoiding relapses and achieving a better quality of life are also higher. 

The six keys to avoiding cancer

The SSMO awareness campaign, called “Cancer. Change your future, you decide”, includes a video comparing the lives of two couples with very different habits, and it focuses on the main risk factors for about one third of cancer related deaths: alcohol and tobacco intake, high body mass index, reduced intake of fruits and vegetables and lack of physical activity.

If we want to not only reduce our chances of getting cancer, but also avoid other diseases and age in a healthy way, the key is to avoid:

Exposure to the sun without protection
Unhealthy food

The SSMO reminds us that smoking is, globally, the greatest preventable risk factor for cancer mortality, and that approximately six million people die each year from cancer and other diseases associated with tobacco use.

In terms of healthy eating habits and physical activity, it is estimated that 20% of cancer cases worldwide are due to high body mass index and obesity, problems that in part can be prevented by high consumption of legumes, fruits and vegetables, and maintaining a regular physical activity.

There are many genetic factors related to cancer, but the campaign emphasizes that, if we lead a healthy lifestyle, our prognosis may be better.

Beware of home DIYs

On the other hand, the Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery has conducted a study recently published in the magazine Environmental Research that relates the practice of DIY, modelling paint with the risk of developing lung cancer due to increased exposure to carcinogens.

The work concludes that doing this type of activity in an amateur manner for at least ten years doubles the risk of developing lung cancer, and this risk can be up to three times higher in the case of non-smokers. The fact is that, whilst professionals who engage in this type of work take the appropriate protective measures, those who do it for fun at home are not so aware of the risks. Experts recall that spaces must be properly ventilated and gloves and masks worn when necessary and worn.

Exposure to carcinogens during DIY, modeling, painting or furniture restoration activities are similar to those occurring in certain workplaces, explained Alberto Ruano Raviña, lead researcher of the study. “Many of the substances used in them are analogous to those used in occupations with a higher risk of lung cancer, as the people involved are exposed to organic solvents, glues, glues, varnishes or wood dust, and the exposure is often over long periods of time, as it is a hobby for the majority of people, without any protection. Therefore, it seemed crucial to us to evaluate the risk of lung cancer associated with these hobbies, both in smokers and non-smokers, through a comprehensive study of cases and controls.”

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