Today is World Cancer Day. Shelly Horton tells you what the hell you can do about that.
I get overwhelmed when I actively think about reducing my risk of cancer. Doesn’t everything give you cancer? Mobile phones, pesticides on food, plastic water bottles, air pollution, deodorant, microwaves, takeaway containers, hair dye, x-rays… even bacon.
It just gets so ridiculous it’s easy to throw your hands up in the air and say it’s all too hard. And no-one is making me give up bacon. No-one.
So when the NSW Cancer Institute approached me about being their ambassador for World Cancer Day I was surprised. I don’t avoid any of those cancer-causers I just listed. But over the last 18 months what I have done is lose 18 kilos, I’ve given up smoking (and fallen off the wagon and then given up again) and I’ve cut back my drinking to two nights a week.
Now that has dramatically improved my chance of avoiding cancer.
And I’m pretty bloody normal. So if I can do it, it can’t be that hard.
The experts agree.
CEO of the Cancer Institute of NSW, Professor David Currow, said a new survey they conducted showed that 88 per cent of Australians understand that cancers are preventable, but many are placing too much emphasis on lower-risk factors, such as mobile phones and pesticides, while high-risk factors such as alcohol and lack of exercise are under-estimated.
“The truth is that despite a lot of research in the area of mobile phones, none has been able to show that they cause cancer and the same goes for toxins migrating from plastic containers to food,” said Prof Currow.
“Pesticides in food production are mistakenly believed to pose a high cancer risk by 63 per cent of people; while less than half correctly identified alcohol and lack of physical activity as belonging to this high-risk category.
“The reality is that there is no evidence linking modern pesticides with cancer but drinking alcohol daily increases the risk of mouth, throat, liver, colon, rectum and breast cancers; while lack of physical activity increases risk of colorectal cancer, and when linked to obesity, is implicated in cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, oesophagus and other sites.”
So it’s actually more important to look at the big picture. Hence the theme for World Cancer Day is “It’s Not Beyond Us”.