General Health

Analysing Various Risk Factors To Prevent Cancer


Cancer is a group of related diseases that can attack any organ or tissue of the body when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably.

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for more than 10 million deaths in 2020, or nearly one in 6 deaths worldwide.

How To Prevent Cancer

Cancer prevention is an action taken to reduce the chance of getting cancer. Cancer not only causes physical problems and emotional stress but also the high cost of treatment and care is a burden to patients and their families.

By preventing cancer, the number of new cancer cases and the number of deaths caused by cancer will significantly decrease. Between 30% and 50% of cancer deaths can be prevented by modifying key risk factors and implementing evidence-based prevention strategies.

Early detection of cancer and management of patients who develop cancer can greatly reduce the cancer burden.

Prevention is the most cost-effective and long-term strategy for the control of cancer. As we all know “Prevention is better than cure.”

Risk Factors

Smoking cigarettes or tobacco use or anything that increases the chance of developing cancer is called a cancer risk factor; regular exercise or eating healthy or anything that decreases the chance of developing cancer is called a cancer protective factor. Risk factors that can be controlled are called modifiable risk factors.

Risk factors that can be controlled

  • Avoid tobacco use and cigarette smoking
  • Avoiding or reducing the consumption of alcohol
  • Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Get vaccinated, if you belong to a group for which getting vaccinated against Hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is recommended.
  • Doing physical activity and regular exercise
  • Avoid exposure to UV radiation
  • Get regular medical checkups
  • Practice safe sex
  • Prevent unnecessary ionizing radiation exposure
  • Avoid urban air pollution and indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels.

Other risk factors

1) Tobacco Use and Cigarette Smoking

The use of tobacco increases the risk for many types of cancer. Smoking cigarette is the leading cause of the following types of cancer-

  • Bladder cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Oral cavity cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)

2)  Infections Caused By Bacteria and Viruses

Some viruses and bacteria can cause cancer. Examples of cancer-causing bacteria and viruses include-

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) increases the risk for cancers of the penis, vagina, cervix, vulva, and anus.
  • Helicobacter pylori (bacteria) increase the risk for gastric cancer.
  • Hepatitis B virus (HBV) increases the risk of liver cancer.
  • Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) increases the risk for Burkitt lymphoma.

Vaccines to prevent infection by cancer-causing viruses and bacteria have already been developed and approved by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Gardasil 9 is an HPV vaccine approved by US FDA and can be used for both males and females.

The Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for certain adults at high risk – adults who are sexually active but not in a mutually monogamous relationship, people who use intravenous drugs, people with sexually transmitted infections, and health care or public safety workers who might be exposed to infected blood or body fluids.

3) Radiations

Exposure to radiation is a well-known cause of cancer. There are two types of radiation that increase the risk for cancer-

·       UV radiation from sunlight- which is the main cause of nonmelanoma skin cancers.

·       Ionizing radiation, which includes –

a)    Medical radiation from tests to diagnose cancer such as CT scans, Fluoroscopy, X rays.

b) Radon gas is a radioactive gas produced from the natural decay of uranium, which can accumulate in buildings – homes, schools, and workplaces.

4) Alcohol Consumption

Studies suggest that drinking alcohol is linked to a higher risk of the following types of cancer –

  • Breast cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Oral cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Esophageal cancer

5) Obesity

Studies show that obesity is linked to the following types of cancer –

  • Endometrial cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Breast cancer (Postmenopausal)
  • Gall bladder cancer and Liver cancer

6) Diabetes

Studies suggest that having diabetes may slightly increase the risk of the following types of cancer –

  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lungs cancer
  • Oral cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Endometrial cancer

Diabetes and cancer have some of the same risk factors. These are the risk factors associated with it –

  • Cigarette smoking and Tobacco use
  • Not eating a healthy diet
  • Not exercising
  • Being older
  • Having obesity

Since diabetes and cancer share these risk factors, it is very hard to know whether the risk of cancer is increased more by diabetes or by these risk factors

7) Environmental Risk Factors

Being exposed to chemicals and some other harmful substances in the environment is linked to causing some cancers –

·       Drinking water that contains a large amount of arsenic has been linked to skin, lungs, and bladder cancer.

·       Air pollutants like asbestos, and secondhand tobacco smoke; outdoor air pollution have been linked to lung cancer.



 Yash Batra

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