By 2020, 1 in 2 people in Ireland will develop cancer during their lifetime. In Ireland, an average of 40,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year. The most common of these are skin, prostate, breast, bowel and lung cancer. We know that 4 out of 10 cancers can be prevented. Do you know how to reduce your risk? By not smoking, eating healthy, healthy weight, watching our alcohol intake and taking regular exercise can reduce our risk of getting cancer.
An easy way to reduce the risk is to get regular screenings. If you are regularly screened for cancer, then there is a chance of catching the cancer in the early stage. If the cancer is caught in an early stage, there is a greater chance of survival and the ability to make a full recovery.
Do not smoke and avoid second-hand smoke. Smoking cigarettes is linked to being the cause of one in three cancers. Smoking is the single biggest risk factor for lung cancer and various other cancers. Lung cancer is one of the biggest killer cancers in Ireland because it is usually at a later stage when detected. Smoking is an addiction, but if you choose to stop it could save your life. In 2013, it was estimated that 5950 premature deaths were caused by smoking. There were also 200,000 admission into hospital caused by second hand exposure. Cigarettes contain over 4000 chemicals, 60 of these are carcinogenic, compounds that can cause cancer. Half of smokers will die from tobacco related disease.
Weight is an important factor as it can increase your chance of developing cancer. People who have a healthy weight have an estimated 18% lower risk of cancer compared to people who are overweight.
Regular exercise is important both for the mind and body. You should do 30 minutes of exercise a day, which is the estimated time recommended to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
You are what you eat so a healthy diet with lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains is good to maintain a healthy body and immune system. If you limit salts, sugars, fats, red meats and processed foods eaten, you could reduce your risk of developing cancer.
Alcohol intake can increase your risk of developing cancer as it damages your DNA and is very high in calories. It doesn’t matter how much you drink, drinking alcohol can cause cancer.
Many people underestimate the strength of the sun in Ireland. Extended sun exposure can cause skin cancer. It is one of the most common causes of cancer in Ireland. Avoid too much sun and always wear sun screen.
You could be at risk of developing cancer, if you work in a hazardous workplace or if you are exposed to toxic chemicals and pollutants. Wear protective clothing and mask and follow health and safety procedures. Exposure to Asbestos can be very dangerous and can cause cancer like lung cancer.
Irish people receive a high dose of radiation and approximately 86% comes from natural sources. The principle sources of radiation are radon, cosmic radiation, natural radioactivity in soils, thoron, natural radioactivity in food, exposure to artificial radiation and medical exposure. Radon is a natural element and occurs in the Earths crust. This means it is wise to check the levels where you are residing and working. For more information www.epa.ie/radiation/exposure
Women over the age of 50 who take HRT for more than five years or more are slightly more at risk of breast cancer. It is also important that men and women do regular breast checks.
By ensuring that your children take the vaccination programme can prevent and/or reduce the risk of cancers caused by infectious agents including viruses and bacteria. In Ireland, it is estimated that there are 420 new cancer cases diagnosed annually caused by HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). Cancer caused by HPV can be prevented with the vaccines.