Lifestyle Choices and Cancer Risk Reduction

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Lifestyle Choices and Cancer Risk Reduction
Lifestyle Choices and Cancer Risk Reduction

Seerat Fatima

The cell is the basic structural and functional unit of life. A cell is often termed as a single room in which all biological processes take place. Cells form the basis of life, and trillions of cells combine to form the human body. Cells are referred to as the building blocks of a living organism, as they replicate to give rise to the body’s structure and perform essential functions.

There are trillions of cells working in the human body, and the function of each cell is of utmost importance. In this vast universe, Allah has not created anything without purpose, and similarly, every cell in our body has a specific and necessary function. Problems can arise if cells do not work properly, as thousands of cells work together to perform specific functions in our body. Cell division is a continuous process that occurs in the human body, ensuring its growth and stability. Simply put, cell division is the process in which a parent cell divides into daughter cells. It is a simple multiplicative process that forms new cells from older ones.

Any abnormalities in cell division and replication can lead to a disorder known as “cancer.” Abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and spread to form tumors in the body, disrupting normal bodily functions. Cancer has the adverse ability to develop and spread in any tissue and organ of the body. Malignant tumors are the most dangerous type of cancer, as they can invade neighboring cells and cause severe destruction. It is important to note that cancer does not have a single cause. While the most common concept of cancer is based on uncontrolled cell reproduction, this is not the complete picture. In addition to spontaneous internal mutations, external agents such as radiation, chemicals, hormonal drugs, and other toxic substances can disrupt the normal process of cell division and cause cancer.

Almost 40 to 60 percent of cancer cases are attributed to exposure to environmental chemicals in food, such as pesticides, herbicides, and preservatives. Cancer can bring a person to the brink of death. Therefore, every individual should take special precautions to protect themselves from deadly diseases like cancer. Every human should choose a healthy lifestyle for an active and hearty life. These healthy habits not only help prevent cancer but also allow a person to live a disease-free life. It is mandatory for individuals to quit smoking if they desire a healthy and productive life. Tobacco contains 7,000 chemicals, 250 of which seriously affect human health, with 60 being carcinogens that can directly cause cancer. Carcinogens are so devastating for human health that they directly damage the DNA of cells and cause uncontrolled cell division.

When tobacco smoke comes into contact with body organs such as the mouth and lungs, it causes severe irritation and inflammation. Smoking increases the risk of weakening immunity, as it plays a detrimental role in lowering white blood cell counts and causing inflammation. Continuous smoking can lead to lung cancer, which is the leading cause of death among men worldwide.

According to 2012 statistics, 1.6 million people globally died due to lung cancer, a number expected to increase in the near future. Lung cancer is the second most prevalent cancer among men in Pakistan, with a high prevalence of tobacco use among men aged 25 to 44, particularly in rural areas, where illiteracy and lack of education are significant contributing factors. Alcohol consumption significantly contributes to the development of various types of cancer in the human body. Acetaldehyde is produced as a byproduct of alcohol metabolism and is a carcinogen that significantly increases cancer risk. Alcohol stimulates the high production of estrogen in women, which can cause breast cancer.

Alcohol also affects the immune system, lowering the body’s immunity, making it less capable of detecting and destroying cancerous cells. Moreover, a weakened immune system makes the body more vulnerable to other infections. Alcohol has a severe impact on the liver, disrupting its activity and causing mutations, known as liver cancer. Recent studies have shown that even small doses of alcohol have highly detrimental effects on the human body, making it advisable to avoid alcohol entirely for a healthy life.Healthy and balanced diet planning is an exceptional solution to treat cancer in the body.

Healthy food choices are essential for maintaining a robust body. A balanced diet, including foods from all food groups such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, pulses, meat, and dairy products, is recommended for cancer patients. To maintain a stable and healthy body, all nutrients are essential and should be consumed in adequate quantities. While carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are all crucial for normal body functioning, proteins are particularly recommended for cancer patients. Cancer patients often undergo complex treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation, which can lead to muscle loss and weakened immunity. Protein plays a significant role in the healing process by repairing tissues and promoting growth.

For patients who need to fulfill their protein requirements, lean protein sources such as skinless poultry, fish, and boiled eggs are excellent choices. Additionally, easily digestible proteins can be obtained from plant sources such as pulses, legumes, and beans. To boost immunity, fresh fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants, vitamins (E and A), and minerals are essential. Garlic can strengthen the immune system, soy foods can help shrink tumors, and carotenoids found in some fruits and vegetables can protect cells from free radicals and reduce the risk of cancer. The impact of fats on human health varies depending on the type consumed.

Saturated fats have highly detrimental effects on human health and are commonly obtained from animals, including red meat, poultry, and full-fat dairy products. Coconut oil and palm oil are also rich sources of saturated fats. Saturated fats are responsible for increasing blood cholesterol levels, which pose a significant threat to human health by increasing the risk of heart diseases. They are also a major cause of weight gain and obesity, which directly influences the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer, particularly colorectal cancer. In contrast, healthy fats, known as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are mainly obtained from plants such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fish, which also contain healthy unsaturated fats.

These unsaturated fats have anti-inflammatory effects and contribute to reducing health risks, particularly in providing protection against cancer. It is generally believed that fats are harmful to the human body, but this is not entirely true. The right amount of fats is crucial for human health. The key is for people to understand which types of fats to consume and in what quantity. Physical activities and exercise are beneficial in reducing health risks and maintaining a lively body. A proper sleeping schedule is essential for reducing mental stress, as disturbed sleep can increase stress and weaken the immune system, making the body more susceptible to various infections.

The causes of cancer are numerous and can include heredity, genetics, and random mutations of cells. Adopting a healthy lifestyle and diet can significantly reduce the risk of cancer development. Regular health checkups are essential for early diagnosis and treatment. If left untreated, cancer can lead to severe health problems and can be fatal. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has reported that 0.8 million people are newly diagnosed with cancer in Pakistan, with 0.11 million fatalities due to cancer. By adopting healthy habits, not only can fatal diseases be avoided, but people suffering from these diseases can also recover more quickly.

Seerat Fatima

Student of BS Human Nutrition and Dietetics

University of Okara

[email protected]