What’s your response to the word cancer? It’s probably thinking about reaching a dead-end where there is no way back, right? Most people don’t realize cancer is preventable in most cases. And it’s one of the reasons the disease claims the lives of thousands each year in the U.S. However, learning about cancer’s causes, risk factors, and protective measures can help to reduce the risk.
Cancer is a progressive disease. It begins because of a mutation in your cells, provoking their growth in abnormal numbers. These mutated cells then affect normal cells and invade body tissues and organs. Many genetic and lifestyle factors can increase the risk of mutation or accelerate growth, thus leading to the complete development of disease. This means you have control over some of these factors. Altering lifestyle choices can help minimize the effects of these factors and help you live a healthy life. Read through to identify a few factors that play behind the scenes and gradually drag you down into the death alley.
Exposure to carcinogens
The air you breathe contains many hazardous substances you may be unaware of. Cancer-causing agents can roam freely in places like your house, outdoors, or even your workplace. Radon is one such silent killer that resides in your home. So you should get your indoor spaces checked regularly to monitor the levels of this inert but deadly gas.
Another example is asbestos, a group of toxic minerals found commonly in industrial areas and old homes. It causes a rare and highly fatal cancer called mesothelioma. Patients typically have a life span of 12 to 24 months after diagnosis. Since the causes are specific and the treatment is expensive, patients can claim mesothelioma compensation by filing a lawsuit or contacting a trust fund. The money covers their treatment costs and other unforeseen expenses. It also ensures their families won’t face any financial struggles in their absence.
Although cancer can occur at any age, the most common age group that experiences most cancers in people aged 65 to 74. This also depends on the type. Thus, advancing age is a significant factor in the gradual development of cancers.
Over the years, you get exposed to many pollutants, toxins, and inflammatory processes. In this long duration, even slowly progressing cancers become symptomatic. At such an age, your body loses efficiency in fighting against cancerous and pre-cancerous cells. Ultimately, the disease’s symptoms surface and disrupt the lives of older people.
However, some forms of cancer are more common among children than adults, such as bone cancer.
Tobacco and alcohol abuse
Not only does smoking disrupt the optimal functioning of the lungs, but it also increases the risk of developing many types of cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, 30% of all deaths in the U.S occur due to smoking. Again, smoking is an unhealthy habit you can quit anytime. Quitting smoking can significantly raise your chances of living a healthy and longer life.
Similarly, alcohol is also a potential irritant that has been linked with cancers of the liver, mouth, throat, larynx, and even breast. Regular alcohol consumption reduces the body’s capacity to absorb nutrients during the digestive process that otherwise may help in reducing cancer risk. Moreover, using tobacco and alcohol together is considered life-threatening.
Another crucial factor that increases your risk of developing cancer is bacterial and viral infections. Some infections directly affect the cells, making them carcinogenic. While others lead to long-term inflammation, ultimately increasing risk.
The most common infections among humans are HIV, EBV, HPV, etc. Human papillomavirus, for example, increases the risk of developing cervical, anal, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. Thus, you have no way out, and your best option is to get vaccinated and practice safe sex to keep yourself away from harm’s reach.
All cancers begin with a mutation in the genes. Thus, all cancers are ultimately caused by genes. Mutations are not passed onto children, but genes are. So if you have a family history of any cancer, you’ll have a genetic predisposition. Certain factors like age, obesity, exposure to pollutants increase your risk of developing cancer. Otherwise, your body’s normal cells will stay healthy for a long time, given there is no stimulating factor that pairs with it.
Still, in 5% to 10% of cases, cancers are caused by a family cancer syndrome that is inheritable. If you have a family history of cancers, this doesn’t mean you will develop cancer. But learning about your risk factors and taking a few precautionary measures will benefit you in the long run.
If you have extra layers of fat around your body, it’s time you start worrying about them. Why? Because being obese can increase your chances of acquiring this fatal disease. Maintaining a healthy weight is one factor that significantly decreases the risk of developing cancer. Obese people are more prone to developing cancer in the breast, colon, rectum, pancreas, kidney, and more. Excessive fat deposits stimulate the production of hormones like estrogen and insulin, which lead to the growth of more cancerous cells. Cancers associated with obesity make up 40% of all the cancer diagnoses recorded each year in the U.S.
On the flip side, maintaining healthy body weight, exercising regularly, and eating a nutritious diet can help you ward off disease symptoms and ensure longevity.
You must be wondering if the radiation from your cell phone also causes cancer. Well, that’s not the case. The radiations of only a specific wavelength tend to propagate cancerous cells. These radiations, known as ionizing radiation, are hazardous for humans. These radiations are commonly found as radon gas, x-rays, gamma rays, etc.
Thus, it is necessary to trace any sources of radon in your house and make it a smoke-free zone. Moreover, staying in the sun for too long can make your skin vulnerable to developing skin cancer. Direct exposure to UV rays can have a lasting and terrible impact on your skin.
According to the American Cancer Society, 45% of all cancer deaths in the U.S are linked to preventable risk factors. A few people with many risk factors may never contract this fatal disease. At the same time, other people with no known risk factors do. Whatever the case, it is better to identify your risk factors and consult your physician on time. With little consideration of the risk factors and incorporating a few lifestyle changes, you can minimize your chances of taking a hit.