With steep rise in cancer cases during the last few decades, its root cause needs to be addressed. Lifestyle changes are stated to be cause for diseases, including cancer. The changes which are commonly observed are dietary habits, inadequate sleep, stress of different kinds, lack of exercise and normal physical activities.
With these changes, when the machine called human body is required to function more efficiently, it has to be properly oiled. In other words the body needs food which is rich in nutrients. Here the importance of nutrition is being emphasised, as we cannot adapt to the sedate life now, on the World Cancer Day.
The word ‘Cancer’ itself incites fear in everyone’s mind. Cancer is a general name given to a group of diseases characterized by abnormal growth of cells. Normally, cells in our body grow old and die and are replaced by new cells. But in case of cancer, the growth in the number of cells is uncontrolled and leads to formation of tumours. These rogue cancer cells can migrate to other parts of the body and spread. Cancer affects millions of people and is one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
World Cancer Day on February 4 is observed to generate awareness about cancer and to promote its prevention, detection and treatment at earlier stages. There are a number of factors that increase the risk of cancer. Unhealthy lifestyle, stress, alcohol and tobacco abuse, chronic infections, obesity and lack of exercise are some of the factors that can be addressed on individual level to reduce the risk of cancer.
Eating habits play an important role in maintaining good health. Wrong dietary patterns and bad food choices considerably increase the risk of cancer. Consumption of processed and packaged foods, high salt and high sugar foods, foods with pesticide residues and diet high in saturated fats and low in fibre are known to increase the risk of cancer. However, eating plenty of fruits, especially apples, citrus fruits, berries, grapes etc and vegetables like cauliflower, pumpkin, carrot, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach etc. help to reduce the risk of cancer considerably. Incorporating whole grains, beans and lentils in the daily diet also helps in reducing the risk of cancer. Nuts like walnuts and almonds, and seeds like flaxseed (Jawas) are known as anti-cancer foods. Green tea is also known for reducing the risk of cancer. Using liberal amounts of onion and garlic and spices like turmeric and cinnamon also helps in reducing the risk of cancer.
Thus good nutrition, proper exercise, stress management and healthy lifestyle habits are the key to keeping cancer at bay.