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Cancer Prevention

  • Introduction

    Cancer is not contagious like the flu or a cold. You cannot catch cancer from someone who has it. So what causes cancer?

    Many cancers develop because of lifestyle habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption or eating too much fatty food, especially those containing animal fat.

    Other cancers may be caused by environment factors such as sunlight, radiation and industrial chemicals.

    By leading a healthy lifestyle and avoiding certain risk factors, you can prevent the onset of many cancers.

    Even if you have cancer, treatment can be effective when cancer is detected early, and is more effective when given at an early stage. Recognising the early warning signs and going for regular check-ups can save your life.

  • Lower your risk of cancer by leading a healthy lifestyle:

    • Don't smoke — if you do, then quit
    • Ask your family and friends to support your efforts to quit
    • Throw away all your cigarettes and lighters
    • Join a programme or support group that helps smokers to stop
    • Spend more time with non-smoking friends in smoke-free places
    • Eat a variety of healthy foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables
    • Choose dark green leafy vegetables and orange-yellow fruits as these contain greater amounts of vitamins and minerals
    • Eat more fibre by choosing wholemeal bread or wholegrain cereals such as brown rice
    • Eat more nuts and store in air-tight containers to prevent them from going mouldy
    • Avoid processed or preserved foods, such as ham, bacon, luncheon meat and salted fish or pickled vegetables — you don't have to give up these foods, just eat them less often
    • Stay active, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight — reduce your intake of foods that are high in fat or sugar
    • Engage in a physical activity for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week
    • Choose a game or sport that you can enjoy with your friends or family
    • Trim excess fat from meat and skin from poultry before cooking
    • Switch to food low in fat such as skimmed milk and low-fat cheese or yoghurt
    • Use low-fat cooking methods like stewing, steaming or boiling instead of deep frying
    • If you feel the urge to nibble, choose healthier snacks such as fresh fruits or crackers
    • Protect yourself from the sun
    • Stay in the shade whenever possible, and wear a hat or a cap
    • Use a sunscreen or sunblock with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 on exposed areas of skin
    • If you work with cancer-causing substances, always comply with safety regulations
    • Wear your personal protective equipment (gloves, masks, or goggles)
    • Learn how to handle the equipment or the chemicals properly
    • Pay attention to safety drills and know what to do in case of emergencies
    • Avoid excessive alcohol — limit yourself to no more than two standard drinks a day
    • One standard drink is roughly equal to:
      1. One can of beer (285 ml)
      2. One glass of wine (120 ml)
      3. One measure of spirits (30 ml)
    • Look out for early warning signs and let your doctor know if you have any of the following:
      1. A lump (which may not be painful) in the breast, neck, armpit, groin, or anywhere else on your body
      2. A sore or an ulcer anywhere on your body, including your mouth, that does not heal properly
      3. Recent changes in the size, shape or colour of a mole on your skin
      4. Abnormal bleeding from your nose or any other part of your body, or blood in your stool
    • Ensure early detection (for women):
      1. If you are older than 50 years, go for regular mammography
      2. Learn how to examine your breasts properly
      3. Attend Papanicolaou (Pap) smear screening every three years until the age of thirty, then every five years.

    For men, if you are older than 50 years, you should discuss the possibility of prostate cancer screening with your doctor.

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