“An individual doesn’t get cancer, a family does.”- Terry Tempest Williams
Cancer prevention is an interesting and challenging area that encompasses numerous issues on a personal and a political level. Both levels are vitally important for the success of any cancer prevention plan. A personal cancer prevention plan should include:
- Limiting of drinking and the elimination of smoking. Non-smokers should avoid smoking areas such as bars, restaurant or other smoke-filled public places.
- Having a diet low in fat, high in fiber, vegetables, beans, grains and fruits. Decreasing dairy products, meat, saturated animal fats and cholesterol. Avoiding highly processed food and all food containing petroleum-derived protein such as torutein, which is used as a food ingredient or a flavor enhancer?
- Using bottled water or installing a carbon filtration or reverse osmosis systems to your water system to eliminate any toxic agents.
- Reading drug labels carefully for carcinogenic agents. For example, estrogen used by women during menopause increases the risk of uterus cancer. Birth control pills cause various diseases such as liver tumors and stroke.
- Eliminating the use of cosmetics such as hair dyes containing carcinogenic agents 2, 4-toluenediamine or 4-methoxy-mphenylenediamine.
- Using lipstick and soap products that contain only natural ingredients and are free from synthetic chemicals.
- Limiting the need for medical or dental X-rays to serious cases only.
- Avoiding high exposure to sunlight as it causes skin cancer. Wearing sunscreen cream such as para-amunobenzoic acid or zinc oxide when outdoors
- Avoiding living in houses or sending children to schools that are close to major highways, hazardous waste disposal, chemical, asbestos, metal mining and processing plants.
- Home and school construction uses plaster boards, paints, spray cans, asbestos insulations, ventilation lining and heating ducts, termite pesticides that are or use known carcinogens. These materials should be avoided.
- Investigating if your children’s school chemistry laboratory, wood and metal workshops do not use harmful chemicals such as benzene, which is found in many cleaning fluids and solvents? Also, check if the school cafeteria promotes fruit and nuts consumption instead of junk food.
- Eliminating the use of aerosol products containing propellants such as hair sprays, deodorants and furniture polishes should be avoided as they affect the ozone layers, increasing the risk of skin cancer. Various carcinogenic pesticides such as chlordane and heptachlor, which are used outside and inside houses, should be avoided.
- Cleaning and solvent products containing carbon tetrachloride, trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene or benzene products such as paint and varnish removers are all carcinogenic and should be avoided. Children’s sleepwear treated with fire resistant Tris should also be avoided, as it is carcinogenic and mutagenic.
- Having regular pap-smear tests for sexually active women, women over the age of thirty to detect cervix cancer, who have many partners, who have low prenatal and postnatal care, or who have intercourse during or immediately after menstruation.
- Having regular Pelvic examination for uterine cancer for women over the age of fifty.
- Having regular proctosigmoidoscopy for colon cancer for women and men over the age of forty.
- Conducting monthly self examination of breasts especially for women who have their first child after the age of thirty.
- Having regular screening for other cancer risks depending on your familial, genetic, and occupational predisposition and degree of exposure to carcinogenic material and x-rays.
The above plan should help you and assist you in understanding what is involved in preventing cancer. You should be all ears and eyes when it comes to health. Remember take good care of your body as it is the only place you have to live in.
Epstein, S.S. (1998). The Politics of Cancer Revisited. Fremont Center, NY: East Ridge Press.