World Health Day 2024: 10 lifestyle tweaks to reduce cancer risk, boost longevity | Health

World Health Day 2024: With each passing year, people across the globe belonging to all age groups, are finding themselves at an increased rate of cancer. The deadly disease can develop in any part of the body where cells undergo uncontrolled growth and division, leading to the formation of malignant tumours. Around 20 million cases of cancer were diagnosed worldwide in 2022, compared to 18 million in 2020 as per WHO. The number is expected to rise by a staggering 77 per cent to 35 million by 2050. (Also read: Viral fever spreading fast; expert tips to keep seasonal infections at bay)

World Health Day 2024: Healthy eating patterns, weight management and physical activity can help reduce risk of cancer.(Freepik)

Coronavirus pandemic may also be one of the many reasons cancer cases are on upswing. Lockdown led to disruption in healthcare services and delayed screenings and diagnoses. Increase in stress levels, and lifestyle factors such as decreased physical activity and altered dietary habits also may have contributed to this spike in undetected or untreated cancer cases.

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Ageing population across the globe, tobacco, alcohol and obesity are the key factors behind the increasing incidence of cancer, apart from pollution, as per World Health Organization. Healthy eating patterns, weight management and physical activity can help reduce risk of cancer.

On the occasion of World Health Day on Sunday, April 7, 2024, we look at the lifestyle measures that can safeguard us from the deadly disease.


Dr. Juhi Shah, Paediatric Medical Oncologist at Sunrise Oncology Centre recommends 10 lifestyle choices that research has shown to help lower the risk of developing cancer:

1. Avoid tobacco: Tobacco use is a leading cause of cancer and cancer deaths. Avoid smoking and exposure to second hand smoke to reduce risk of lung, throat, mouth and pancreatic cancer.

2. Eat clean: Emphasise on fruits, vegetables, millets, lean proteins and high fibre diet. Limit red/processed meats, sugary, fried/high-fat foods, to reduce the risk of breast and gastro-intestinal cancers. Plant based diets are rich in nutrients and antioxidants which reduce inflammation and protect normal cells.

3. Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active: Obesity is linked to breast, colon, endometrium and kidney cancers. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly, with strength training exercises.

4. Avoid alcohol consumption: Alcohol is linked to an increased risk of liver, breast and colorectal cancers. Limiting alcohol intake or avoiding it altogether can reduce your risk.

5. Protect your skin from the sun: Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can lead to skin cancer. Use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), wearing protective clothing and avoiding peak sun hours can reduce skin cancer risk.

6. Get vaccinated: Vaccines like the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and Hepatitis B vaccine can protect against viruses that cause cervical and liver cancer.

7. Avoid risky behaviours: Practice safe sex and avoid sharing needles to protect against infections that can increase cancer risk, such as HPV and hepatitis C.

8. Get regular medical check-ups: Early detection through regular screenings for cancers such as breast, cervical, and colorectal can save lives. Self-exams for cancers like breast and testicular cancer can aid in early detection.

9. Sleep better and manage stress: Daily eight hours of sleep, meditation and yoga can help in improving your overall wellbeing and immune function.

10. Avoid exposure to environmental and occupational hazards: Asbestos, radon and benzene are among known carcinogens. Reducing exposure to them can decrease the risk of lung and other cancers.

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