Cancer Prevention

Cancer Prevention and Screening

Most people don’t realize that cancer is preventable in many cases. Learning what causes cancer and what the risk factors are is the first step in cancer prevention. Many cancer risk factors can be avoided, thus reducing the likelihood of developing cancer. Of course, some cancer risks like genetics cannot be avoided.

Smoking is the most significant cancer risk factor that we can reduce. It is responsible for not only lung cancer, but many other types of cancer. One of the best ways to prevent cancer is to quit smoking or never start. As soon as you quit, and it’s never too late, your body reaps the benefits of being tobacco-free.

Cancer prevention is easier than you think. With a few simple lifestyle changes, you can drastically reduce your risk of many types of cancer. Many factors play a role in cancer development, but the good news is that most can be avoided.

1. Avoid Smoking and Exposure to Smoke

Smoking is the most significant cancer risk factor that we can reduce. It is responsible for not only lung cancer, but many other types of cancer. One of the best ways to prevent cancer is to quit smoking or never start. As soon as you quit, and it’s never too late, your body reaps the benefits of being tobacco-free.

Avoiding secondhand smoke is also a way to prevent cancer. Secondhand smoke is the smoke exhaled from a smoker or a lit cigarette, pipe or cigar. This smoke contains more than 60 known carcinogens”. These carcinogens interrupt normal cell development. This interference is what ignites cancer development.

2. Practice Sun Safety and Recognize When Skin Changes Occur

Did you know that over one million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year? Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer among men and women, and it accounts for about half of all cancer diagnoses. The good news is that skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer.
The first step in preventing skin cancer is to avoid UV ray exposure. We can do this by wearing sunscreen, avoiding mid-day sun, wearing protective clothing when outdoors, and by staying away from tanning beds.

3. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

A well-balanced diet is advantageous for many reasons. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables greatly reduces your risk of developing cancer and many other conditions.

Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, which help repair our damaged cells. Green, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are your best bet to help prevent cancer. Studies also show that dark fruits, like blueberries and grapes, may also have anti-cancer properties.

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower appear to pack a powerful punch at preventing cancer, according to numerous studies. Other cruciferous vegetables include bok choy, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage.

4. Limit Red Meat and Animal Fat

Numerous studies show that a diet high in animal fat increases the risk for several types of cancer, particularly colon cancer. Red meat contains much more fat than poultry and fish, so reducing the amount of red meat in your diet may help to prevent cancer. A diet high in fat also is major cause of obesity, which is a risk factor for many types of cancer.

5. Limit Your Alcohol Intake

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol regularly increases your risk factor for many types of cancer. Studies suggest that men who consume 2 alcoholic drinks per day and women who have 1 alcoholic drink per day significantly increase their risk factors for certain types of cancer.

6. Exercise for Cancer Prevention

Did you know that when you are exercise, you are reducing your risk for many types of cancer? The Bahrain Cancer Society recommends exercising 30 or minutes, at least 5 days a week for cancer prevention. Exercising doesn’t have to mean going to the gym to lift weights. There are plenty of ways to get exercise into your day.

7. Know Your Personal and Family Medical History

Knowing your family history of cancer is important to properly assess your risk factor for certain types of cancer. We know that cancers like breast, colon, ovarian, and possibly other types can be hereditary.
If you know that a certain type of cancer runs in your family, let your doctor know. Together, you can determine a proper screening plan and assess your true risk. Genetic testing and counseling is available and may be recommended based on your family’s medical history.

8. Know What You’re Being Exposed to in Your Work Environment

Chemicals in the workplace may increase your risk of developing many types of cancer, including kidney cancer and bladder cancer. If you are exposed to fumes, dust, chemicals, etc. in the workplace, you have a legal right to know what you are being exposed to. Gasoline, diesel exhaust, arsenic, beryllium, vinyl chloride, nickel chromates, coal products, mustard gas, and chloromethyl ethers are all carcinogens and can be found in some work environments. Talk to your employer about limiting exposure.

9. Practice Safe Sex

You may wonder what sex has to do with cancer. Unsafe sex can result in the infection of the human papillomairus (HPV), a known cause for cervical cancer and a risk factor for many other types of cancer. HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that is spread through sexual, skin-to-skin contact.

10. Get Screened for Cancer Regularly

Cancer screening tests can be useful not only in detecting cancer, but also helping prevent it. Screening tests like the colonoscopy and Pap smear can detect abnormal cellular changes before they turn cancerous. The key to their effectiveness, however, is that they are done regularly.
Other cancer screening tests are available and may be useful for early detection, but not necessarily cancer prevention. Prostate cancer screening through digital rectal exams and PSA tests can help detect prostate cancer early. Mammograms and other imaging tools are also recommended to detect breast cancer in women.

A risk factor is anything that raises or lowers a person’s chance for developing a disease. Although sdoctors can seldom explain why one person develops the disease and another does not, researchers have identified specific factors that increase a person’s chances of developing certain types of cancers.
Some cancer risk factors can be avoided. Others, such as inherited risk factors, are unavoidable, but it is a good idea to be aware of them.
Remember, many people who develop cancer have none of the known risk factors, and most people who do have risk factors do not get the disease. So, it is important to talk with your doctor about regular checkups and about what screening tests are right for you.

Risk Factors by Disease

Breast Cancer

  • Age – most cases occur in women age 50 or older
  • Family history of breast or ovarian cancer before menopause (mother, sister or daughter)
  • Abnormal breast biopsy results
  • Lobular or ductal carcinoma in situ or atypical hyperplasia
  • First period before age 12
  • Menopause after age 55
  • Never being pregnant or having your first child after age 30
  • Higher education and socioeconomic status
  • Women in this group tend to have fewer children or start childbearing after age 30
  • Obesity or weight gain after menopause
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Inherited susceptibility genes BRCA1 and BRCA2
  • Suspected risk factors include:
  • High-fat diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • More than one alcoholic drink per day
  • Oral contraceptives

Colorectal Cancer

  • Age – most common in people over age 50
  • Personal or family history of colorectal cancer (father, brother son)
  • Personal or family history of adenomatous polyps (father, brother son)
  • Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Diet high in fat (especially in red meat)
  • Diet low in fiber, fruits and vegetables
  • Physical inactivity
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Obesity

Prostate Cancer

  • Age – men 50 and older are at greater risk
  • Family history of prostate cancer
  • Diet high in saturated fat

Cervical Cancer

    First intercourse at an early age

  • Multiple sex partners (either of the woman or her partner)
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure before birth
  • HIV infection
  • Weakened immune system due to organ transplant, chemotherapy or chronic steroid use

Endometrial Cancer

  • Estrogen exposure and increasing age
  • First period before age 12
  • Menopause after age 55
  • Hormonal therapy without the use of progestin
  • Never being pregnant
  • History of infertility
  • Personal history of hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer
  • Obesity
  • Use of tamoxifen

Ovarian Cancer

  • Family history of ovarian, breast or colon cancer
  • Personal history of breast, endometrial or colon cancer
  • Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer
  • Incessant ovulation
  • Living in an industrialized country
  • Suspected risk factors include:
  • Prolonged use of high dose estrogen without progesterone
  • Exposure to talc or asbestos
  • High fat diet
  • Increasing age

Skin Cancer

  • Exposure to ultraviolet radiation
  • Fair complexion
  • Family history
  • Geography
  • Climate – living in a sunny climate
  • Occupational exposure to:
  • Coal tar
  • Pitch
  • Creosote
  • Arsenic
  • Radium

Cancer screening exams are medical tests done when you’re healthy, and you don’t have any signs of illness. They help find cancer at its earliest stage, when the chances for curing the disease are greatest.

Exams for colorectal and cervical cancer also find abnormal cells that may turn into cancer. Removing these cells can prevent cancer altogether.

The Bahrain Cancer Society has specific screening plans for men and women, based on their chances of getting cancer. The exam you get and how often you are tested depends on whether you are at average, increased or high risk for cancer. People at increased risk have a higher chance of getting cancer than men and women at average risk. Men and women at high risk for cancer have a higher chance of getting the disease than those at increased risk.

It’s important to know if people in your family have had cancer. This information, along with your personal health history, helps your health care provider find out if you’re at increased or high risk. You and your health care provider can use this information to make a well-informed decision about cancer screening.

Recommended screening exams for the following cancers:

  • Breast Cancer
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Ovarian and Endometrial Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Skin Cancer

For further information on what screening for cancer is available, please contact the Bahrain Cancer Society at +973 17-233-080 or by email at .

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