Studies have shown that a large percentage of all cancers have association with environmental factors. These environmental factors could be physical (air, soil, water), biological (virus, bacteria, fungi, plants, animals) and/or social (lifestyle). Of all these environmental factors, lifestyle is the most important. Exercise smoking and excessive alcohol intake are well known associates of lung and liver cancer respectively. The relationship between diet and some cancers is well known.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps ward off cancer especially cancer of the stomach, and large intestine. For fruits, citrus fruits appear specially favoured. Reduce fat intake, also limit consumption of salt and salt preserved foods. Maintain a balanced diet and exercise to maintain healthy body weight.
2. Good lifestyle.
Alcohol and tobacco have long been known to be associated with lung and liver cancers. Duration and dose of these two habits are very important. Parents should avoid smoking in the presence of children to avoid spreading the habit; same goes for alcohol intake, having a bar in the house stocked with assorted alcoholic drinks though socially desirable encourages children to drink alcohol. Creating awareness in schools about health implications of alcohol/smoking will go a long way.
3. Reduce exposure to occupational/environmental Hazards
Cancers associated with occupational exposure include those of the lungs, bladder, nose and skin. Several chemicals and chemical groups have been identified to cause cancer. Avoid or reduce exposure to them. Use protective clothing and equipment- insist on them. These chemicals/substances include benzene, asbestos, soots, arsenic and wood dust. Go for regular screening for levels of the chemicals in your body.
4. Reduce or Avoid Exposure to Radiation.
Adopt sun protective behaviour, minimise time spent under the sun; ultra violet radiation from the sun is a known cause of skin cancer accounting for about 80% of cases. The use of protective clothing, sunglasses, hats and sunscreens is recommended. Unnecessary exposure to medical x-rays should be avoided.
Two infections are associated with cancer; Hepatitis B infection which can lead to cancer of the liver, and Human papilloma Virus infection which is associated with cancer of the cervix. Immunisation is now available against these two infections. You can consult your physician.
6. Prevention by use of drugs.
Some drugs and micronutrients are known to reduce the risk of some cancers. The cancers include breast cancer, cancer of the large intestine, cancer of the prostate. The micronutrients are vitamins and minerals which can be taken as supplements but better obtained through regular and adequate consumption of fruits and vegetables.