Cancer is a genetic disease characterized by abnormal cell growth that may spread to other parts of the body. There are several different types of cancer classified on the basis of characteristics of the tumour cells and the part of the body where they originate. In Canada, breast cancer and prostate cancer are most frequently diagnosed in women and men respectively. Lung cancer, however, is the most common type of cancer in both genders. Certain risk factors are known to be associated with cancer and avoiding them may help prevent cancer. These risk factors are discussed below:
- Diet high in fat
High fat content in diet has been noted to be associated with colon and prostate cancers. A balanced healthy diet including fruits and vegetables is always recommended for a healthy lifestyle. Vegetables and fruits contain a lot of antioxidants and other substances that may have anticancer properties. We also recommend food components rich in fiber such as whole grains. Consuming more fish, poultry and beans as your primary source of protein as opposed to red meat and processed meat contributes to a healthier diet.
- Exposure to sunlight
Excessive exposure to sunlight may also lead to certain types of skin cancer. It is recommended to use a sunscreen 15 minutes before heading out in sunlight in addition to wearing a hat and long sleeves and pants. An SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher is recommended for outdoor activities and a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB is necessary to reduce the risks of skin cancer. Reapply sunscreen every hour if you are in water or sweating and every 2 hours normally. It is important to reapply your sunscreen frequently even if your sunscreen is water resistant.
If the amount of sun exposure or your family history suggests increased risk for cancer, discuss this with your healthcare provider. Risk assessments may include a check on your current medications that may make you more sensitive to the sun.
- Exposure to cigarette smoke:
Cigarette smoking, including inhalation of second-hand smoke, is the leading cause of lung cancer. Cigarette smoke exposes our body to a number of chemical substances that irritate our lungs and contribute to the development of cancer. Quitting smoking as early as possible is advised for smokers to reduce their risk of developing cancer. Visit Guildview pharmacy for a free consult on quitting smoking therapies that are available to help you.
- Exposure to irritants and hazardous substances
Certain irritants, like asbestos and other chemical agents, are known risk factors for cancer. Avoiding these substances would be the best strategy to reduce your risk of cancer. It is important to follow workplace safety measure to minimize exposure to harmful substances. For more information on cancer, please visit Health Canada’s website https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/health-concerns/diseases-conditions/cancer.html.
You may also speak to our pharmacists at Guildview pharmacy for information on screening for certain types of cancer such as the cancers of the prostate gland and breasts. Guildview Pharmacy also offers medication reviews.