The World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted a sharp increase in cancer cases (24 million per year by 2035) based on recent trends in medical diagnostics. To mitigate the predicted surge in the number of cancer cases spokespersons for the World Health Organization have called for re-establishing the necessity of living preventive lifestyles, as well as an accompanying public health education initiative. The World Cancer Research Fund has corroborated the diagnostic data and the need to increase public awareness of cancer prevention techniques. We must take drastic measures to curb lifestyle influence on the incidence of cancer or risk collapsing healthcare delivery systems worldwide.
Most of the public is demonstrably unaware of the connection between cancer and diet. Living a preventive lifestyle begins with healthy dieting and proper weight management. Whole foods, vegetables, fruits, and grains are emphasized as a means of maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Avoiding obesity lowers cancer risk as well as increasing overall quality of life by reducing strain on the heart, muscles, bones, and joints. Regular cardiovascular exercise is also essential to strengthen heart muscle and lower the overall strain placed on the heart during routine activity. Light weight training and yoga can help with maintaining balance and musculoskeletal mass. All of these choices also serve to reinforce each other when it comes to cancer prevention. Unfortunately, negative lifestyle choices also reinforce each other when it comes to cancer risk: behaviors like poor weight management, large amounts of sedentary activity, and smoking can exacerbate a person’s genetic predisposition to cancer.
Living a preventive lifestyle is doubtless preferable to conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy, which uses harsh chemicals to shrink malignant tumors in preparation for surgery. The drugs used during chemotherapy’s course of treatment, however, often have serious side effects: nausea, muscle weakness, vomiting, and a weakened immune system response. Like chemotherapy, radiation therapy seeks to reduce malignant tumors’ size prior to surgery, but does so by bombarding the body’s tissues with radiation. Radiation also suppresses the body’s immune system’s response, meaning that patients undergoing conventional cancer treatments are extremely vulnerable to secondary infections (colds, other viruses, pneumonia, etc).
Such treatments also represent a significant drain on the healthcare delivery system, both in terms of raw resources and skilled labor. In order for end-of-life care to be accessible to all the people who need it, cancer prevention techniques must continue to be in the foreground of discussion in the medical community. This number is expected to rise as more and more baby boomers hit retirement age. Widespread public education regarding the importance of living a preventive lifestyle will go a long way toward making end-of-life care accessible and affordable.