Can Poor Lifestyle Choices Lead To Cancer Risk In Women? Expert Lists Common Bad Habits

Can Poor Lifestyle Choices Lead To Cancer Risk In Women? Expert Lists Common Bad Habits

Cancer is one of the deadliest diseases across the globe, increasing at a fast pace, both in India and worldwide. 2022 reported over 14.13 lakh new cancer cases in India, which accounted for 9.16 lakh deaths (as per estimates released by the World Health Organisation) and the cancer cases amongst women have outnumbered men. Women have faced various challenges associated with cancer, with prevalent occurrences identified in breast, cervix, ovary, mouth, and colorectal cancers.

The World Health Organization (WHO) highlights that a substantial 30-40% of cancer instances can be averted through lifestyle modifications alone. Increased awareness, informed choices, and adopting healthier habits can empower women to proactively mitigate the risk of developing different types of cancer, promoting longer and healthier lives.

Everyday Habits Leading to Cancer Risk In Women

Mrs Jyostna Govil, Chairperson of the Indian Cancer Society, Delhi Branch points out the harmful activities that can lead to the risk of breast or cervical cancer risk in females:

1. Smoking: Smoked tobacco releases around 7,000 chemicals, triggering cellular alterations upon inhalation, further increasing the chances of developing cancer. The tandem of smoking and excessive alcohol intake is associated with an elevated risk of cancers affecting the aerodigestive tract- the lips, mouth, larynx, pharynx, throat, oesophagus and colon.

2. Obesity: Beyond its well-established links to diabetes and heart disease, obesity poses a significant risk for various cancers. While more definitive studies are required, there’s no denying that obesity is on the rise due to sedentary lifestyles. Fat tissue usually produces high levels of estrogen, which has been associated with breast, ovarian, endometrial in women and other types of cancers across the demography (which also includes women). 

3. Neglecting regular screening and check-ups: Another leading cause of cancer in India is the lack of regular screening and check-ups in the country. A sense of ennui surrounds regular screenings, followed by stigma in certain parts of the country, which results in neglect of regular screenings and even ignoring the early signs and symptoms. This is notably evident in cervical cancer, a prevalent issue among Indian women. 

4. Lesser Physical Activity: Lack of physical activity, especially amongst the youth today is also leading to an increased number of cancer cases. Lesser physical activity is linked to breast cancer risk in women, especially those in the menopause phase. The growing trend of embracing a sedentary lifestyle, characterized by extended work hours, unhealthy snacking habits during work, prolonged screen time watching TV, and videos, and the latest craze of spending hours on reels, deters people from engaging in exercise and walks. 

This sedentary pattern contributes to health issues such as PCOD/PCOS, particularly impacting younger women. Sedentary behaviour is also increasing the cancer of the lungs, endometrial and colon.

How To Lower Cancer Risk: Preventive Tips

Dr Surender Kumar Dabas, Vice Chairman & HOD, Oncology, BLK-Max Super Speciality Hospital shares healthy lifestyle choices to make to reduce cancer risk:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise regularly
  • Say no to tobacco and Limit alcohol consumption
  • Protect from sexually transmitted infections
  • Manage stress and Be mindful of environmental factors
  • Get vaccinated

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