Being a woman myself, it’s really heart breaking for me to say that Indian women tend to almost always neglect their personal health and don’t feel the need to acknowledge a deadly killer like cancer till the time they are not found suffering from it. A common mentality that they can’t or will not be affected by cancer or any such deadly disease has been long ingrained in our minds. The results are all in front of us to see:
- The top 3 common cancer type in Indian Women are Breast Cancer (27.0%), Cervical Cancer (22.9%) & Colorectal Cancer (5.1%)
- More women die in India of cervical cancer than any other country in the world
- The average age for breast cancer in women in India is almost a decade lower that of the West
Are we worried seeing the numbers? Not yet
Is it enough to instill fear in us? Probably not
Are we doing enough to prevent these numbers? Of Course not
Are we equipped to prevent cancer? Yes
I do not want to sound like or be considered as the harbinger of bad news….not at all. At the same time it’s high time all of us are aware of the situation. But “Do Not Despair, Be aware ladies” Just for the records, the deadly menace called cancer is only on a growth path.
But not all is lost yet ladies. H.O.P.E (Hold on, Pain Ends) is what we have so let’s get started and together we can prevent cancer. But before we even begin our journey to prevent cancer, let get to know our Enemy.
Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body (Wikipedia). It starts when gene changes make one cell or few abnormal cells to grow and multiply too much or too fast. Ladies I am not a doctor, so this is a layman’s description to what we are up against. The below pictures may make the definition a little more clear. But the idea is not to train ourselves on the disease rather it is awareness of the disease and how it affects us.
Now let’s go back to our discussion: 9 Key Steps Women can take to reduce the risk and prevent cancer.
- Maintain Healthy Weight: It’s clearly a no brainer that maintaining a healthy weight is the secret to a disease free life. But did you know that maintaining a healthy weight can also help you prevent cancer. Yes you heard it correct, “the heavier you are the greater your risk of cancer”. So ladies, hit the road, join the gym, flip your diet or just plain jog in the morning but do something to Lose Weight Now. Remember though, be natural, do not take short cuts like slimming pills etc., coz it will do more harm than good. There is no shortcuts to success (in this case to weight loss)
- Exercise Regularly: Whether you are overweight, or you are within the ranges of a healthy weight, remember to Exercise regularly on a daily basis. Our body has been with us since our birth, however over the years we tend to overlook or forget to take care of your body. Just imagine, my first car which I bought when I was 18 years old has been kept in the garage for the last 14 years (don’t worry I am not 32 years old rather I drove the car for around 5 years). I walked into my garage today with the keys to my 32 year of car friend and try to start it and move around. But behold, the steering itself failed to bulge an inch. Similarly our body needs regular movement and work out of the body parts or else it will not move or be affected by other ailments. And the best part is that exercising regularly will also help you prevent cancer. So ladies time to go shopping, get your workout apparels and hit the gym. It’s for us.
- Eat Healthy Food: Health is in our hands ladies, just like the choice of leading a healthy life. What better way to do this than to eating healthy. End of the day, the food is what keeps us all going. I do not need to tell you the effects of junk food. What I want to tell all the lovely ladies reading this article is that gradually change your eating habits. Eat a mix of pro-biotic food like yogurt, fermented milk drink as well as prebiotic foods such as fruits vegetables and high fiber grains and legumes. But why this mix-that’s what I would ask if I were you reading this article. The reason is these kinds of food mix assists in the production of metabolites known to prevent cancer and at the same time they are better able to metabolize fats, which as per research could help lower the risk or prevent cancer.
- Cut down Alcohol Intake: Haven’t you heard ladies “When the wine is in, the wit is out”. Thomas Beacon was right, but just to add to the great man’s thought, I would say, along with wit health is also out. Alcohol/Ethanol when taken by human being metabolizes into acetaldehyde which the body finds difficult to process. High levels of alcohol cause dehydration making the cells more vulnerable to multiplying. And this effect is directly proportionate – greater the alcohol one drinks on one occasion, greater is the chances of the cells multiplying. Thus in effect we are pushing our body towards cancer. If you ask me, stop drinking alcohol, period. But that’s not what we lesser known mortals are capable of. Even I am not, as I love a few drinks now and then. But we surely can spread the load by drinking moderately (say 1 drink per occasion) and building gaps between the occasions. So ladies lets shed some weight and reduce some alcohol and prevent cancer
- Introduce plant based diet: A lot of study has gone into the causes of cancer. We are lucky to be at the age of information. A lot of researches has shown to the world that people who eats a lot of fiber, fruits and vegetables have a low levels of cancer – though it is not yet certain as to why, but a very logical and practical explanation would be that it is linked to gut bacteria. I am neither a scientist nor a statistician: what my point here is that fiber and fruit/vegetable intake cannot harm you so start eating more fiber, more fruits and more vegetable. It would help you maintain a healthy weight, keep you healthy thus helping you prevent cancer. A simple way to do this is increasing you fiber and your fruit and vegetable intake to five portions a day. You would surely ask me how I increase my portions. Here’s a guide sourced from NHS Choices.
- Avoid Red Meat & Processed Meat: I must confess here ladies. It’s really difficult for me to write this here as I am in love with meat. Whatever said and done, I admit Processed and Red meat is associated with higher risk of developing cancer. So with a sad heart I would say to all you wonderful ladies and me- we need to cut down on our processed and red meat intake if we want to prevent cancer. The hard truth which is not always rosy. The good news though – we do not need to skip it rather eat in moderation. As per medical recommendations sticking to a daily meat intake of 70 grams will keep our taste buds happy as well as prevent cancer. Just avoid overly charred grilled meat, meat/fish preserved in salt and we are all good to go.
- Breastfeed if you can: This might come as a surprise, but it’s true. Breastfeeding not only provides nutrition to a child but also helps prevent cancer in women – especially Breast Cancer which is amongst our biggest enemy. There is a growing medical evidence that breastfeeding substantially reduces the risk of the more aggressive forms of Breast Cancer. The longer you breastfeed, the lower the chances of cancer but it should be at least 1 year among 1 kid or spread across several kids. Even more important is for a woman who has a family history of cancer.But if you can’t don’t stress out ladies, it’s not that if you do not breastfeed you will get breast cancer. That’s not what it’s like. Infact the single most effective way to lower your risk of cancer is to lead a healthy life, eat healthy, reduce harmful food types and we are all good. Stay Fit, Stay Healthy, Stop Cancer
- Regular Preventive Screening: Last but not the least, a simple yet effective step we all must take. Go in for Regular Preventive Screening. No better way to prevent than knowing the condition of the body. And these screening will help us get the early warning signals so we can avoid and prevent cancer. Examples would be Pap smear test for Cervical, Mammogram for Breast Cancer, Self Test etc. No matter what kind of test depending on your physician’s advice, do undergo these tests to know about and prevent cancer.
So ladies with that I would end my post here for today. Hope you all enjoyed and find this interesting as well helpful. I will be back with more. In the meanwhile in case you have any questions do feel free to drop in a comment.