SMASA adds its voice to World Cancer Day
World Cancer Day is on February the 4th. Its aim? To unite the world’s population in the fight against cancer and save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about the disease, and pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action.
According to www.worldcancerday.org, 8.2 million people die as a result of cancer worldwide every year. Of these, four million people die prematurely i.e. between the ages of 30 and 69 years. These are sobering numbers indeed, but perhaps most sobering of all is what the future looks like – according to The World Cancer Research Fund International, the 2012 figure of 14.1 million cancer cases globally (these are most recent statistics available), is expected to rise to 24 million by 2035.
Closer to home, the news is sadly no better. CANSA reports that 100 000 South Africans are diagnosed with cancer each year, with women standing a 1:9 chance of developing the disease during their lifetime – men have a 1:8 chance – and the survival rate being just 6/10.
“But it’s not all bad news,” says Nicola Brink, spokesperson for the Self-Medication Manufacturers Association of South Africa (SMASA). “The fact is that as many as 90% of cancers are the result of environmental factors and lifestyle choices and there’s plenty that we can do about them. By taking charge of our health and equipping ourselves with the right knowledge to practice effective self-care, we can take up the fight against cancer on February the 4th – and keep it going.”
Here are some of the ways we can be proactive about self-care:
Follow a healthy diet
These days, it seems everyone has a different opinion on what constitutes a healthy diet. And while there’s no definitive guide as to what you should be eating in order to lower your risk of cancer, these guidelines are a good start:
- Get your daily dose of fruit and vegetables
- If you are going to consume alcohol do so in moderation
- Maintain a healthy weight
If you’re a smoker, the best time to stop is right now. Smoking has been linked to several types of cancer, including but not limited to cancer of the lung, throat, mouth and larynx. And it’s not just smokers who need to take note – exposure to secondhand smoke is also thought to increase your risk of lung cancer.
Exercise is believed to reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer, so aim to fit in a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity each day. If you have the time and energy to do more, go for it!
Be sun savvy
Skin cancer may be one of the most common types of cancer, but the good news is that it is easily preventable. How? By sticking to these sun safety suggestions:
- Keep to the shade as much as possible, especially when the sun is at its strongest – between 10am and 4pm.
- Wear a hat at all times.
- Remember to slap on plenty of sunscreen (SPF15 and above for adults and SPF30 and above for children) and don’t forget about your lips, ears and neck!
- Reapply your sunscreen regularly and always after swimming or sweating.
- Never ever make use of tanning beds.
Get yourself checked
Regular self-examinations are a must, as are cancer screenings which can detect several types of cancer before symptoms appear. Early detection is key when it comes to cancer, as treatment has a higher rate of success in the early stages of the disease.
If you suspect you may have cancer, speak to your healthcare provider as soon as possible. For more information on responsible self-care, visit www.smasa.cc. And for more information on World Cancer Day, visit www.worldcancerday.org.