Cancer is a disease that effects far too many people. Sometimes, when people are diagnosed with cancer, there doesn’t seem to be any logical reason why they got sick. But more often than not, the disease is linked to a risk factor.
This article will take a look at the risk factors that could lead to cancer, establishing a link between the disease and overall health.
Cancer Risk Factors
- Old Age: The risk of cancer increases as a person gets older.
- Using Tobacco: Tobacco use often causes lung cancer, but it can also cause cancer of the larynx, mouth, esophagus, throat, bladder, kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas, colon, rectum, and cervix.
- Obesity: An excess amount of body fat has been linked to endometrial cancer, esophageal adenocarcinoma, gastric cardia cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, breast cancer, and more.
- Alcohol: Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, colon, liver, rectum, and breast.
- Viral Infections: Some types of viral infections can increase the risk of cancer, such as human papillomavirus.
- Exposure to Chemicals and Radiation: Specific chemicals and radiation are linked to cancer, including ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
- A Family History of Cancer: If someone in your family had cancer, you will have an increased risk.
Boosting Overall Health Can Reduce the Risk of Cancer
Once you are familiar with the risk factors that lead to cancer, you can take steps to reduce the risk. Here are some things you can do to boost overall health.
- Stick to a Healthy Diet: Eating foods that are low fat and healthy and exercising regularly can help you maintain a reasonable weight and prevent obesity.
- Cut Back on Smoking and Drinking: If you are a heavy smoker or drinker, you may consider limiting your intake or quitting altogether.
- Protect Skin from the Sun: Protect your skin from the sun with hats, sunglasses and sunblock. Stay out of the sun completely if possible, especially during peak sun hours.
- Get Vaccinated: Get vaccinated to reduce your chances of getting HPV and other viruses that can increase cancer risk.
- Get Regular Screenings: Get screened for cancer regularly, especially if you have a family history of cancer or think you may be high risk for another reason.
Cancer symptoms come into play in early detection and they also give you an idea of how cancer affects overall health once it occurs. Here are some things to look out for.
- Pain: Pain can be caused by cancer treatments or from tumors growing into other body parts.
- Fatigue: Fatigue can be caused by cancer treatments or by the cancer itself. It is usually manageable.
- Weight Loss: Cancer steals food from normal cells and deprives them of nutrients. Sometimes, artificial nutrition will have to be brought in via a tube to the stomach or vein.
- Chemical Changes in the Body: Cancer can upset the body’s chemical balance causing excessive thirst, frequent urination, constipation and confusion.
- Brain and Nervous System Problems: Cancer can press on nerves causing pain and lack of function in certain parts of the body. This can result in headaches and stroke-like symptoms.
- Unusual Immune System Reactions: In some cases, the body can react to cancer by attacking healthy cells. This can lead to difficulty walking, seizures and other symptoms.
- Difficulty breathing, nausea, constipation and diarrhea are other symptoms that can be caused by cancer treatments or by the cancer itself.
Now that you know about cancer and how it affects health, what will you be doing to lower your risk?