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World Cancer Day: Understanding role of nutrition, lifestyle changes to control cancer

People across the globe need to be aware regarding nutrition and other lifestyle changes that can be implemented to help them recover and potentially reduce the risk of the same cancer recurring or a new one developing.

World Cancer Day, which is observed on 4 February every year to spread awareness, inspire change and reduce the global impact of cancer.
But, little changes in lifestyle can help us protect from this deadly disease.

Cancer doesn’t develop overnight, thus somehow its prevention is possible. Lifestyle changes and foods can help us in preventing the life-threatening disease. Although the crucial role of nutrition on wellbeing was known several hundreds of years ago in ancient healing methods such as traditional Chinese medicine, it often plays a minor role in the modern society.

Cancer is also one of the reasons that men and women lose their fertility as the cancer treatment of or around reproductive organs affects their capability. With the advancement in reproductive science, cancer patients started seeking help from different forms of scientific reproduction methods like IVF and ART.

A balanced healthy plant based diet along with lesser sugary and oily food items are recommended for enhancing health. Such a way of life helps to prevent both cancer and other non-communicable diseases. Although these facts are widely known, the figures are still alarming.
Some of the most prevalent forms of cancer in India are caused by poor lifestyle and hygiene practices. For example, excessive smoking causes lung and oral cancer while consuming alcohol is the cause of cancer in the colon, liver, and breast.

Dr ArunGiri, Director, Department of Surgical Oncology, Aakash Healthcare, Dwarka spoke to ANI about the role of nutrition and lifestyle changes that can help control cancer.

“Tobacco and alcohol-free lifestyle can substantially reduce the cancer burden. Good nutrition aids in preventing cancer. Plant-based diets filled with green, leafy vegetables and lentils, legumes, and fruits provide nutrients as well as dietary fibre.

A minimum of 25 to 38 grams of dietary fibre is required, which one can get from one fruit a day, along with two cups of vegetables and lentils. One must also avoid processed food and packed fruit juices as they have extra salt and extra sugar, respectively, both key contributors to increasing cancer risk.

One must also take care of the oil they use — mustard oil, olive oil, and rice bran oil are considered good for overall health unless one is allergic to the ingredients.

We all know the importance of sunscreens, that it protects us from the harmful UV rays. But, if sun is a source of Vitamin D and is required by our body, then why should one avoid the exposure?

However, it is a proven risk factor for skin cancer like squamous cell and basal cell, and melanoma but a good amount of sunscreen could work wonders for the skin.

Awareness particularly for breast and cervical cancer, in females above 40 and those who have family history of cancer should be encouraged more.

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