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How To Protect Yourself From Cancer ?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “At least one-third of all cancer cases are preventable. Prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer.”

What is cancer?

Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of cells, caused by changes in genes that control the growth, division and lifespan of cells. These changes or mutations might be passed on to a child from a parent or might be acquired due to damage to genes during a person’s lifetime. According to preventcancer.org, only 5% of cancers are hereditary.

Know more about  Cancer insurance policy

Prevention is in your hand

Most of the times, lifestyle, behavioural and environmental factors have a direct impact on the risk of developing cancer. Let us learn about the possible causes and risk factors for cancer so that you can know how to protect yourself against this disease.

Use of tobacco and alcohol intake

According to the latest cancer prevention data by WHO, the use of tobacco is the biggest avoidable risk factor for cancer deaths worldwide. Tobacco, whether smoked or taken orally, leads to many kinds of cancer, including lung and oral cavity cancer, and contributes to an estimated 22% of cancer deaths per year, according to WHO data. Second-hand smoke has also been proven to cause lung cancer.

Large intake of alcohol poses a risk for cancer of the pharynx, oesophagus and liver, among other types of cancer. The chances of cancer increase if the person is both a heavy drinker and a heavy smoker.

Obesity and an unhealthy diet

Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of getting cancer of the endometrium, kidney and colorectum. Maintaining a healthy body mass index through regular physical activity and a well-balanced, nutritious diet can keep you protected.

A diet rich in fruits and non-starchy vegetables, such as lettuce, cucumber and spinach, have been seen to act as a protective factor against cancer. Excessive consumption of char-grilled meat can cause cancers of the pancreas, colon and digestive tract. You should also avoid red and preserved meat as they have been found to cause bowel cancer.

Viral infections

Certain viral infections can increase the chances of developing cancer if the infected person’s body is unable to deal with the infection, causing chronic inflammation, development of mutations or immune suppression.Two preventive vaccines have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prevent infection from cancer-causing viruses:

Human papillomavirus vaccines that prevent cervical, oropharyngeal, anal, vaginal, vulvar and penile cancers.

Hepatitis B virus vaccines that prevent liver cancer.

If you have not been vaccinated yet, make sure to consult your general physician about these essential vaccines.

Environmental pollution and radiation

Exposure to air, water, soil and food contaminated with carcinogenic (potentially cancer-causing) chemicals accounts for 1-4% of all cancers. Domestic coal fires, use of asbestos in the construction of buildings, such as in thermal insulation, and drinking water containing a large amount of arsenic are linked to various types of cancers.

As outdoor air pollution is a risk factor for developing cancer, you should avoid venturing out into heavily polluted areas or wear anti-pollution masks.

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation, in particular, solar radiation, radon gas, present in soil and building materials and radiation from medical diagnostic tests such as X-rays or CT scans is also linked to an increased risk of cancer.

It is always wise to not only take preventive measures to protect yourself from cancer but also be prepared to scaffold yourself from the brunt of high treatment costs in case you or a family member happens to develop this disease. Knowing that you have sound financial support can help you focus on getting well soon, instead of worrying about how you will afford the treatment.

Critical Illness Insurance

Critical illnesss insurance is one of HDFC ERGO’s fixed benefit plans that offers cover for 15 critical illnesses, including cancer, with a wide range of sum insured options ranging up to Rs. 50 lakhs.

The plan offers a lump sum payout of the sum insured on the diagnosis of  listed critical illnesses. The insured is also entitled, on being diagnosed with a listed critical illness, to a second opinion from one empanelled medical practitioners of the insured’s choice.

Spend this World Cancer Day spreading awareness about cancer prevention by sharing this blog. And remember to take stock of your habits and get rid of those that do not serve to keep you healthy and happy.


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