Today it’s #WorldCancerDay
An important day to share some more information about cancer, from prevention to treatment.
Unfortunately, many of us, directly or indirectly, are affected by this disease.
According to the World Cancer Report 2014, cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 8.2 million deaths in 2012 and 14 million new cases.
The most aggressive cancers causing deaths are: lung, liver, stomach, colorectal, breast and oesophageal cancer.
In women, the most common cancers in 2012 were breast, colorectal, lung, cervix, and stomach cancer. Lung, prostate, colorectum, stomach, and liver cancer were the most common cancers diagnosed in men.
There are different causes of cancer. Generally, cancer can be triggered by external factors such as chemical, physical or biological carcinogens.
What about cancer risk factors? The main risk factors include smoking, alcohol use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.
As my main research interest and professional activity are related to obesity, I would like to talk about the link between overweight and obesity and cancer.
The reasons why obese people tend to be at higher risk of developing cancer are still under investigation. Some mechanisms include the presence of high levels of hormones such as leptin and insulin that might promote the growth of cancer cells. In addition, obesity is associated with increased insulin resistance which leads to a greater production of insulin that increases the risk of cancer. Obesity is also associated with a chronic inflammation state that can promote cancer.
In particular, according to the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), being overweight or obese increases the risk of 10 cancers: liver, advanced prostate, ovarian, gallbladder, kidney, colorectal, oesophageal, postmenopausal breast, pancreatic and endometrial.
The good news is that more than a third of the most common cancers can be prevented!! Let’s see how.
- Do not smoke
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Be physically active (a 30-minute brisk walk per day would be a good start)
- Limit consumption of energy-dense food and sugary drinks
- Prefer foods of plant origins (at least 5 portions of a variety of fruits and veggies every day, legumes, whole grain cereals)
- Limit intake of red meat (less than 500g/18 oz), and avoid consumption of processed meat
- Limit consumption of alcohol (no more than 2 drinks a day for men and one a day for women.
- Limit intake of salty foods (salt consumption should be less than 5g –or 2g of sodium- a day). Do not eat mouldy grains or legumes
- If possible, breastfeed exclusively up to six months, and then up to 2 years along complementary feeding
- Dietary Supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention
What is also important to know is that, fortunately, there are numerous types of treatments available for the different types of cancer. And we need to underline that early diagnosis is fundamental to establish the proper treatment and reduce cancer mortality!!
World Cancer Day, an initiative of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), is a great opportunity to spread the word about this disease. We can. I can.
So, if you would like to know more about cancer, WCD and the numerous initiatives taking place worldwide, please check the links below.