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Potential Factors for Preventing Cancer Diseases

According to International Agency for prevention of cancer, 50% of cancers can be prevented with current knowledge gathered, after decades of Research

Availability of lot of information about cancer, on internet, has played a great role in making public aware about cancer. But the percentage of net users in India is only about 5%. Therefore we need to make public aware about their risk factors, through print and electronic media.

It is an established fact that Tobacco, Diet, Alcohol and Body weight are together responsible for 34% of cancers. We also know that 45% of cancers in men and 40% of cancers in women can be prevented, if 14% known lifestyles and environment risk factors are taken care of.

Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) in its 2014 report, on the economics of cancer prevention and control pointed out the following:-

  • Implementing appropriate strategies for prevention, early detection and treatment could save 24-37 lacs lives a year.
  • Investing just$11.4 billion in core prevention strategies in low and middle-income countries could save $ 100 billions in cancer costs.

Although Govt. of India has a good cancer control programme, for more than two decades, it has not been implemented properly.

Regular advocacy with Govt. of India and Delhi Govt. by the stake holders has not been able to get desired funds allocated for Cancer Control Plan.

Even globally, there is underfunding of research on cancer prevention. An integrated approach for cancer control requires, balancing the emphasis on new personalised treatments, with efforts to prevent the disease on the first place.

Treatment of cancer is extremely expensive due to high tech equipment and its maintenance, extremely expensive drugs and disposables and high payment to scarcely available trained manpower for treating cancer. By preventing 50% of preventable cancers, the Govt. will have a lot more money to treat balance 50% of cancers, which are not preventable as of today.

Epidemiologists, Richard Doll and Richard Peto, received Noble Prize for providing the following evidence in 2004:-

  • Male smokers born between 1910-1930 lost average 10 years of life.
  • Stopping smoking at 40 years of age, brought them 9 years of life.
  • Stopping smoking at 30 years of age brought them nearly the full ten years.

Epidemiologists, Scientists and Research scholars have proved beyond doubt that “Action needs to be taken on two levels to make effective cancer prevention a reality”

First: – Let the entire population know in their vernacular language, about what action   they can take to prevent cancer.

Second: Converting knowledge about risk factors into behaviour change. Information alone does not help. Information initiatives have to be linked to primary health care activities in the field e.g. measuring and advising people on their individual risks.

We also have to make healthy choices available, e.g. healthy food to be made available and accessible in schools, restaurants, hotels. Making tobacco products inaccessible, making the entire country tobacco free, stopping use of excessive pesticides, providing safety measures for people working in radiation areas and people exposed to benzene, pesticides fungicides, paints, thinners etc.Decreasing environmental pollution by adopting EURO III standards for vehicles and junking out old polluting vehicles, saving ground water, grains, vegetables and fruits from lethal effect of pesticides by promoting cultivation of organic food are some of the initiatives, which Govt. needs to take urgently. Public also has to be made aware of the causes of cancer, which are as under:-

Causes of Cancer


Our genetic predisposition is responsible for 50% of cancers.

  • Genetic mutations are going on continuously in all human being, but everyone does not get cancer.
  • What causes impairment of DNA is under active study. With decoding of the genome and identification of few genes, we still have not succeeded in preventing constitutional cancers.


  • Air pollution by vehicles
  • Burning of grass, leaves, wood and wires (to extract copper)
  • Occupational hazards of working in industries which are manufacturing / handling pesticides, thinners, paints, asbestos etc.
  • Radiation workers.
  • High random levels in some homes.
  • Too much exposure to sun’s ultraviolet rays.
  • Extensive use of pesticides in agriculture
  • Release of benzene from leather upholstery in closed homes and cars, during hot weather.
  • Release of benzene when hot food and beverage are served in plastic cups.


  • Tobacco use in any form whether smoked, inhaled or chewed. One million people died in 2010 due to tobacco use.
  • Alcohol consumption
  • High fat diet
  • Too much consumption of sugar, over salted, spicy smoked food ((barbeque) and processed meat
  • Inactivity i.e. too much sitting and not exercising


  • Early marriage /Late marriage
  • Multiple pregnancies /No children
  • Multiple sex partners
  • Not breast feeding


  • Hepatitis B
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Helicobacter pylori

Recommendation for cancer prevention

  • Avoid active and passive smoking e.g. Cigarette, Beery, Cigar, Churat, Pan Masala, Gutka, Kheni etc.
  • Make your home smoke free.
  • Support smoke-free policies in your workplace.
  • Have a healthy diet i.e. eat whole grains, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit high-calorie foods with high content of fat and sugar.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Avoid red meats, smoked or cured foods and hot food / drinks in plastic containers.
  • Exercise regularly and actively.
  • In the workplace, protect yourself against cancer-causing substances by following health and safety instructions.
  • Avoid exposure to cleaning fluids, paints, thinners, pesticides, fungicides, chemicals, Plastic containers having hot boiling food.
  • Avoid multiple sex partners.
  • Do monthly Self-Examination of the Whole Body.
  • Practice sun safety measures and recognize when skin changes occur.


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