Men’s health matters: 5 lifestyle changes to reduce cancer risk in men

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and represents a growing major public health problem. According to ICMR, the common cancers in men in India are lung cancers, oral cancers, colorectal cancers, esophageal cancers and prostate cancers. Lifestyle is one of the most important causative agents for these cancers. These lifestyle factors include:Tobacco – consumed/chewed (gutka, khaini) and smoking (cigarette/beedi).Various studies have proved the use of tobacco and the cause of cancers, especially lung cancers, head and neck cancers, urinary bladder cancers, and gastrointestinal cancers. Alcohol abuse – a very toxic substance and, as far as cancer is concerned, a Group 1 carcinogen responsible for various types of cancer, including head and neck cancers, esophageal, liver and colorectal cancers. It has also been shown to be synergistic along with tobacco causing oral cavity cancers.Diet and nutrition- It is one of the most important factors in the development of cancers like colorectal, prostate, liver, stomach, and head and neck cancers. A diet rich in saturated fats, red meat, high sugars, junk food, and derivative products can increase the risk of developing cancer, consequently increasing its incidence. It has been shown that eating a healthy diet can prevent the development of cancer by 30% to 50%.Obesity- Obesity and high BMI (body mass index) represent a fundamental factor, second only to smoking, as the most common cause of cancer. Numerous studies have highlighted that weight gain in adulthood is related to various types of cancer such as breast, colorectal, prostate, kidney, ovarian, stomach, endometrial, esophageal, pancreatic, and other cancers. Physical Inactivity – Studies have found that increased physical exercise is linked to a 10–25% reduction in the risk of developing cancers. Heart failure in men and women: Understanding the differences in symptomsOthers – Sexual and reproductive health: exposure to unsafe sex. Environmental risks: urban air pollution, and indoor smoke from household solid fuels.Healthy steps to cancer preventionWhile you cannot exercise control over all the cancer-causing factors, you can take control of the things that are in your hand. 1. Quit tobacco 2. Decrease your alcohol intake 3. Eat healthier foods – A balanced diet must include vegetables, fruits (high fibre) and whole grains. Additionally, it’s critical to consume healthy fats like poly- and monounsaturated fats in place of trans and saturated fats. Decreased use of processed sugar is important. Additionally, minimise your intake of red meat and choose beans, fish, or chicken instead. Consumption of Vitamin D and anti-oxidants are also essential. 4. Be physically active – Staying physically active prevents you from gaining excess weight, which lowers your risk for several serious diseases. Simply walking (20-30mins) a short distance each day can be helpful.5. Know your family history – Cancer is also known to be genetic as an inherited faulty gene that can cause cancer. You can be at higher risk if cancer runs in your family. To protect yourself from cancer, consult your doctor and take preventative measures.6.Regular medical screening – Early detection of cancer with medical tests will allow the right treatment to be started at the right time.7. Health checkups – It is essential to undergo regular health examinations to detect early symptoms of the disease and get treated accordingly.(Author: Dr Vikram Maiya M, Senior Consultant – Radiation Oncology, Apollo Cancer Centres, Bangalore)

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