Making prevention measures a cost-effective way to reduce cancer incidence and mortality.

How to Prevent Cancer
By avoiding tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy foods, governments, organisations and individuals can reduce the risk factors for cancer and prevent more than one-third of all cases.

With an estimated 19.3 million cases and nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide. The global burden of cancer is projected to double by 2040 1.
Many cancer cases are preventable, making prevention measures a cost-effective way to reduce cancer incidence and mortality.
Primary prevention measures block the initiation of cancer by reducing exposure to risk factors, such as tobacco smoke, alcohol, occupational carcinogens, radiation, overweight and obesity. These factors are modifiable by changes in behaviour or policy.
Secondary prevention measures detect and treat cancer early. They include screening tests for a few cancers (breast, cervix, lung and colorectal cancer). Primary and secondary prevention strategies can reduce the cancer burden by one third to a half and are essential for a national cancer control strategy.

Cancer risk factors and prevention
A cancer risk factor is anything that increases the chance of developing cancer. Some risk factors are related to lifestyle, such as smoking, drinking, and eating poorly. Others are genetic or environmental, such as inherited mutations or exposure to radiation. Reducing risk factors through policy, programs, and behaviour changes can lower the risk of cancer.
Preventing cancer is a cost-effective and long-term way to control cancer. The WHO advises that “national policies and programmes should be implemented to raise awareness, to reduce exposure to cancer risk factors and to ensure that people are provided with the information and support they need to adopt healthy lifestyles.”
There are different proven prevention strategies and approaches that governments at all levels can use to lessen the cancer burden. Some examples of these strategies are given in the sections below for different cancer risk factors.

Tobacco control
Tobacco use causes eight million deaths per year. There are about one billion smokers worldwide, and 800 million of them live in low- and middle-income countries, where tobacco companies target them more aggressively.
Tobacco products can cause more than 12 types of cancer and are responsible for 25% of all cancer deaths globally. Tobacco is the single greatest avoidable cancer risk factor. This includes people who smoke tobacco, those exposed to second-hand smoke, and those who use smokeless tobacco products (such as chewing tobacco or snus).
Smokers are up to 22 times more likely to get lung cancer than non-smokers. People who do not use tobacco but who breathe in second-hand smoke at home, work, or in other public places also have a higher risk of getting lung diseases, such as chronic respiratory diseases and lung cancer.

Alcohol and cancer
Alcohol causes more than 740,000 cancer cases per year. The more alcohol a person drinks, the higher their risk of cancer. Alcohol can lead to cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, pancreas, colon, and breast. People who drink alcohol and smoke tobacco are much more likely to get these cancers than people who only drink or smoke. Heavy drinkers and smokers have a 30-fold higher risk.
According to the CDC1, obesity is the second leading cause of cancer after tobacco use. The CDC estimates that obesity causes about 40% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States each year. The more excess weight a person gains and the longer they are overweight, the higher their risk of cancer.
Some of the ways that obesity can cause cancer are:
 · Obesity can cause chronic inflammation, which can damage DNA and lead to cancer.
 · Obesity can affect the levels of hormones, such as insulin, insulin-like growth factor, and sex hormones, which can stimulate or inhibit cell growth and affect cancer risk.
 · Obesity can affect the immune system, which can affect the body’s ability to fight cancer cells.
The good news is that losing weight can lower the risk of cancer. Studies have shown that weight loss can reduce the levels of inflammation, hormones, and other factors that are linked to cancer. Weight loss can also improve the effectiveness of cancer treatment and lower the chance of cancer recurrence.

Infections and Cancer
Infections are caused by germs, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, that can invade the body and cause diseases. Some infections can increase the risk of developing cancer or make cancer treatment less effective. Infections can also be more serious and harder to treat in people who have cancer or who are getting cancer treatment.
Some of the most common infections that are linked to cancer are:
 · Human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer, anal cancer, and some head and neck cancers.
 · Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV), which can cause liver cancer.
 · Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), which can cause stomach cancer and a type of lymphoma called MALT lymphoma.
 · Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which can cause a type of lymphoma called Burkitt lymphoma and a type of cancer called nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
 · Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of many cancers, such as Kaposi sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and cervical cancer.

There are ways to prevent and treat infections that are related to cancer. Some of them are:
 · Getting vaccinated against HPV, HBV, and other infections that have vaccines available.
 · Practicing safe sex and avoiding sharing needles or other items that can transmit blood-borne infections.
 · Taking antibiotics or antiviral drugs as prescribed by your doctor.
 · Avoiding contact with people who have infections or symptoms of infections, such as fever, cough, or rash.
 · Washing your hands frequently and keeping your skin clean and dry.
 · Reporting any signs or symptoms of infection to your doctor as soon as possible, such as fever, chills, pain, redness, swelling, or pus.

Radiation, Environmental, and Occupational Carcinogens
Elements within our environment can substantially contribute to the development of cancer. Ionizing radiation, inclusive of UV light, alongside a spectrum of chemicals and pollutants, derived from both anthropogenic and natural sources, ranks among the most common factors. Occupations sometimes pose significant risks, with over 40 agents, compounds, and chemicals collectively identified as occupational carcinogens. Asbestos, as an illustrative, is particularly notorious for inducing mesothelioma, asserting its harmful effects even after a prolonged latency period.
Moreover, the presence of carcinogenic substances in our air, water, and soil does not only pollute these natural resources, but also considerably adds to the global cancer morbidity. Airborne pollutants are especially problematic, with air pollution contributing to 6.7 million premature fatalities per year, of which more than 223,000 are attributed to lung cancer deaths.
It is imperative to limit sun exposure and employ protective measures such as appropriate sunscreen, whilst eschewing UV tanning devices. The indoor use of coal-fired stoves or solid fossil fuels for cooking should be avoided. Occupational health policies ought to be strengthened to mitigate work-related exposures. To address air quality, the enforcement of rigorous vehicular emission standards is necessary, along with the embrace of clean technologies that scale back industrial pollution.

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