Avoid being a statistic
ON THE cancer front it seems there is good news and bad news.
Cancer is more curable than ever before, according to 100 of the world's leading specialists who recently gathered in Switzerland to formulate an American cancer plan.
"In 40 years, we've nearly doubled the curability rates for cancer and, in another 40 years, it is reasonable to assume that we'll get near total curability," veteran oncologist Umberto Veronesi told the medics.
But, at the same time, it was revealed that the number of cancer cases is expected to increase by 75% by 2030.
As the developing world becomes richer, those countries are being affected by the cancers of the western world.
In our own country, our lifestyles are also now known to be a factor in the development of many cancers.
One in two men and one in three women in Australia will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 85.
The number of new cancer cases diagnosed each year is rising, confirms Cancer Council Australia.
"Recently, cancer has overtaken heart disease as the greatest burden (in terms of death and disability) of disease and injury in Australia," it says.
"About 39,000 people die from cancer in Australia each year. The most commonly diagnosed cancers are prostate, colorectal, breast, melanoma and lung cancer."
But you can do something to reduce your risk of becoming a statistic.
According to the Cancer Council, evidence is strengthening that body weight, physical activity and dietary factors influence the risk of some cancers.
"In 2003, the World Health Organisation Report on Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases confirmed that poor diet and lack of physical activity are second only to tobacco as theoretically preventable causes of cancer," it says.
"Appropriate diet, body weight and physical activity could prevent about one third of the most common cancers in industrialised countries."
In 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund found that the evidence that body weight and physical inactivity increased cancer risk was particularly strong.
Alcohol is a risk factor for cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, breast, colorectum and liver, adds the Cancer Council.
If you want to improve your lifestyle to lower your cancer risk, it is important to increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables that you eat, stop smoking, reduce alcohol intake and lower stress.
Getting regular exercise - ideally an hour a day - is also recommended.
Regular check-ups, especially for those exposed to the sun, or for those over the age of 50, can help detect problems early on.
Pap smears and prostate checks are also important as is, for women, regularly checking their breasts for any irregularities and discussing screening with their doctor.
Cancer is a major cause of illness and death in Australia
Lifestyle factors, such as overweight, poor diet and lack of physical activity are second only to tobacco as theoretically preventable causes of cancer
There is convincing evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing some of the most common cancers
There is convincing evidence that undertaking regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing some of the most common cancers
There is convincing evidence that alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing some cancers, including breast cancer
It is likely that eating more vegetables and fruit will reduce the risk of developing some cancers
The lifestyle recommendations for reducing cancer risk are consistent with guidelines for heart disease and diabetes prevention, as well as for general good health
Maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical activity and good nutrition can help prevent cancer.
Cancer Council Australia