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Healthy lifestyle can prevent cancer, WHO notes

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As the world marks another Cancer Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that 30-50 percent of cancer death cases globally can be prevented.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and it is estimated to account for 9.6 million deaths last year.

Characterized by growth of abnormal cells beyond their boundaries, they can invade the neighboring parts, spread to other organs and affect any part of the body.

Usually, it has many anatomic and molecular subtypes that each require certain management strategies.

Adopting measures of preventing cancer can result as the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of the epidemic.

Raising awareness on cancer, empowering people with right information and reducing exposure to cancer risk factors should be implemented in national policies and programs by governments to intensify the fight against the killer disease.


Having a healthy lifestyle is the simplest way of preventing cancer.

Use of tobacco kills around six million people yearly from cancer and other related diseases. Tobacco smoke is known to contain more than 7000 chemicals with more than 50 reported to cause cancer.

Lung cancer, oesophagus, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach and cervical cancer are cause by tobacco smoking. Avoidance of using tobacco products alone can prevent cancer mortality worldwide.

Alcohol use that resulted to cancer related disease is reported to be responsible for 337,400 deaths in 2010 mainly among men.


Heavy drinking of alcohol is a risk factor to oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, liver and breast cancer. Alcohol should be avoided in order to reduce chances of getting cancer.

Unhealthy diets, being overweight and physical inactivity also cause different types of cancer. Eating meals rich in vegetables and fruits with regular exercises is another easy approach to cancer control.

Environmental pollution and exposure to chemical and radiations in work places also contribute to the cancer mortality. This, however, can be controlled by governments in adopting policies that will see disposal of harmful substances are done with consideration to human health and the environment. Work places must also provide protective gears and ensure that the working atmosphere is not harmful to the health of its workers.


Worldwide, 18.1 million new cases of cancer were reported in 2018, with Kenya recording more than 1500.

Nairobi County recorded the most cases of cancer followed by Kiambu, Murang’a and Meru Counties.

However, cancer kills more patients in the country, and Africa at large, due to poverty as the disease management is expensive while most people abandon treatment which is painful, tiresome and time consuming.

Pain, which is a major cause of unnecessary suffering that affects 55 percent of patients undergoing treatment can be managed by the choice of painkillers medicine, use of steroids, and specific techniques for treating pain from radiotherapy.


“Controlling pain should be essential part of cancer treatment. When the pain is managed effectively, people can enjoy time with their loved ones, rest better and continue with their daily lives. No one should live or die in pain,” said Dr Etienne Krug the Director of WHO’s Department for the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases.

Cancer survivors have been urged to come out and share their stories so that other patients can keep fighting the disease which has no cure yet.

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Brenda Gamonde
Brenda Gamonde
Brenda Gamonde is reporter with Business Today. Email: [email protected]
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