вторник, 3 января 2017 г.
Doctor Hilary - HIT BACK AT CANCER!
There's never been a safer time to get cancer.
OK, let's rephrase that. Thanks to continued research, our understanding of The Big C is growing and that means survival rates are, too. Experts agree, though, that the best way to beat cancer is always prevention, prevention, prevention.
"Cancers don't just magically appear," explains Dr Gareth Evans, a consultant in medical genetics at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester and spokesperson for The Genesis Appeal. "They're the result of a combination of genetics and years of damage to your DNA, so avoiding bad habits is the best health insurance there is."
In other words, there's plenty you can do to help cancer-proof your body, whatever age you are. And yep, you can start right here, with advice from those in the know.
IN YOUR 20s
Cancer is rare at this age, but it's also the decade when most damage can be done. Gulp.
BEAT THE ODDS Stub out the cigarettes and you'll slash your risk of lung cancer. "Around 83 per cent of cancer cases in women are due to smoking," says Dr Elizabeth Rapley from The Institute Of Cancer Research. You should go easy on the cocktails, too. "Alcohol releases harmful chemicals as it breaks down in your body, increasing your risk of cancer," explains Dr Evans. So experts recommend limiting yourself to one alcoholic drink a day. And you can't save them up for a bender - bingeing is twice as harmful, reports a new Danish study.
To further limit risk, step away from the sunbed, wear SPF to help prevent skin cancer, and always use a condom! "Ninety-nine per cent of cervical cancers are caused by the HPV (human papilloma virus), transmitted during sex," says Dr Ranjit Manchanda, spokesperson for The Eve Appeal. "Women need regular smears from age 25 to detect cervical changes before they turn cancerous."
IN YOUR 30s
Cancer rates are still low for 30-somethings, and there's lots you can do to keep it that way.
BEAT THE ODDS If you want children, bear in mind that the younger you start, the lower your risk of breast cancer. Breastfeed and you further reduce your risk by four per cent for every year you do. "We suspect producing milk lowers the levels of some cancer-related hormones in the mother's body," explains Dr Rachel Thompson of World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). "It also encourages the removal of damaged cells, reducing the risk of cancer."
Watching what you eat is important, too. Limit your intake of red meat to 500g (cooked weight) a week, advises WCRF, and avoid processed meats, such as ham and bacon, as these have been linked to bowel cancer. "Now's also an ideal time to review your method of contraception," says Dr Evans. "Taking the Pill for five years slightly increases your risk of breast cancer, so discuss options with your doctor."
IN YOUR 40s
It's not just wrinkles you should be thinking about now! In your 40s, your cancer risk is on the rise, particularly for breast cancer.
BEAT THE ODDS Dust off that gym kit, ladies - 40 per cent of cancers could be prevented if we made changes to our lifestyle, such as being more active*. "As well as keeping your weight in check, exercise boosts the immune system and keeps hormone levels healthy," explains Dr Evans. Make sure you get your five-a-day, too. "Fruit and veg contain vitamins and minerals, plus they're a good source of antioxidants and phytochemicals, which help protect cells from damage," points out Dr Thompson. "They're a good source of fibre, too, which cuts bowel cancer risk." And, go easy on the salt - too much may increase the risk of stomach cancer by damaging the stomach's lining, according to studies.
The good news for 40-somethings is that by 2012, women in the UK over 47 will be invited for breast screenings (the current age is 50), so ensure you have a mammogram every three years. Look out for changes in your periods, too, and don't write off bloating as irritable bowel syndrome - persistent pelvic pain and bloating can signal ovarian cancer, so talk to your GP.
IN YOUR 50s
The greatest risk factor for cancer is age (and sadly, there's no cure for that), with 81 per cent of breast cancer cases occurring in women aged 50 and over. Bowel cancer is the most common cancer in this age group.
BEAT THE ODDS The good news is, it's never too late to make healthy changes. As well as eating plenty of fruit and veg, try to stay as active as possible, since it will help cut your risk of bowel, breast and womb cancer significantly. It's also a great way to maintain a healthy weight. "One of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of cancer is aim for a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9," says Dr Thompson. "Research has shown that fat cells release hormones such as oestrogen, which increases the risk of breast cancer."
This is also the age that most of us enter the menopause, and if it's already hit you then long-term use of hormone-replacement therapy can minimally increase your breast cancer risk. HRT aside, you should now be extra vigilant about checking your breasts, and if you notice any changes in your breasts or in your bowel movements (including blood in your stools or if stools become darker in colour), see your doctor for a diagnosis.