Did you know that about 100,000 Malaysians suffer from cancer every year? What’s more, 1 out of 4 Malaysians is statistically proven to develop cancer by the age of 75. Scary!
Even scarier is that most cases of cancer are actually avoidable and stem from improper lifestyle choices. So what are these lifestyle choices that Malaysians always make that could lead to cancer? We got a medical doctor to share with us his insights:
1. Not following a proper, healthy diet
Dr Khiddir, a medical practitioner based in Kuala Selangor commented that one of the biggest risk factors for cancer is being overweight or obese. In fact, numerous studies have pointed out the correlation between being overweight to a staggering 12 types of cancer.
Not good omen for Malaysia then, as we were crowned the most obese nation in Asia for 2017!
“That’s why it is recommended to have a diet that is high in fruit, vegetables and whole grains. These help you stay at a healthy weight, and may also protect against certain cancers such as prostate cancer.”
2. Smoking and everything related to it
Source: Daily Mail
Smoking is, of course, a hot issue now considering the recent implementation of the smoking ban in public eateries. This gets the applauds of Dr Khiddir who found the new law as a landmark ruling for the fight against cancer in Malaysia.
“Everyone knows the adverse effect of smoking and its links to cancer. But still, people choose to smoke and worse, they’re spreading the carcinogenic pollutants from cigarette smoke to others around them.”
Dr. Khiddir further assures of the link between smoking cigarettes and cancer is very clear. In fact, it’s been proven to be the main cause of lung cancer and at least 14 other types of cancer! Crazy!
Smoking also gives health risks to others as well. The much dreaded secondhand smoke contains the same harmful chemicals that smokers inhale and could lead to many health conditions such as:
- Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
- Some studies have found links between secondhand smoke to mental issues such as depression
- Lung cancer with evidence also suggesting its links to brain, bladder, rectum, stomach, breast cancer and more!
If these still do not scare you off of smoking, there’s also thirdhand smoke or remnants of secondhand smoke on the surfaces of objects that will lead to lung, bladder, cervix, kidney, mouth, pancreas and throat cancer. Dr. Khiddir added that,
“Thirdhand smoke is real and its devastating especially to small children. There have even been cases of people losing their infants to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) which thirdhand smoke causes.”
So please guys, just stop smoking!
3. Consuming alcohol
Another lifestyle choice that would lead to the hazards of cancer is heavily consuming alcohol. But how does alcohol make you become more vulnerable to cancer? Well, according to Dr. Khiddir,
“The body will break down alcohol into Acetaldehyde during digestion, a known carcinogen that harms our DNA and proteins”
Besides that, Dr. Khiddir also mentioned that alcohol can cause oxidation to oxygen-based molecules which results in:
- Damage to DNA, proteins and lipids.
- The body’s digestive process which makes vitamins and minerals being incapable of digestion.
Furthermore, alcohol is also known to stimulate oestrogen production in females which makes them more prone to develop breast cancer.
“Worse is if you smoke and drink. There’s a reason why us doctors always ask this during checkups. Smoking and drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancer significantly”
Yikes! Better rethink your lifestyle choices if you’re guilty of indulging in both.
4. Pulling the all-nighter or sleeping late at night
We’ve all done this before. Whether going for that late night outing or pulling the all-nighter before that crucial exam but did you know that doing so, even for just one day can increase your risk of cancer?
“Staying awake at night and sleeping during the day lead to rapid changes in more than 100 proteins in the blood”
Dr. Khiddir further explained that this will have an effect on blood sugar, immune function and the body’s metabolism. These biochemical changes elevate one’s risk for health issues such as diabetes, weight gain and of course, cancer.
What about working the night shift then? Well, there have been numerous researches previously that link working the night shift to cancer. Researchers have discovered that women who engaged in long-term night shifts are 20 per cent more likely to develop cancer! The increased risk for specific types of cancer is even more staggering:
- 58 per cent greater risk of breast cancer.
- 35 per cent higher risk of gastrointestinal cancer.
- 28 per cent more risk of lung cancer.
“Besides that, working the night shift is linked to obesity and heart disease as it severely disrupts our circadian rhythm or the internal clock that regulates the body’s physiological process”
Time to stop the late night mamak sessions then!
5. Working hazardous jobs or not following proper OSHA at the workplace
The environment factor in cancer risk shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially if the hazardous environment is somewhere you frequent every day like the workplace.
“Certain professions have higher risks of cancer because of exposure to high chemicals or radioactive substances in the workplace”
Here is a breakdown of a few industries that may heighten your risk of cancer:
- Agriculture, forestry and fishing – too much exposure to the sun and some agricultural chemicals.
- Construction – exposure to asbestos, too much sun, silica, diesel engine exhaust, coal products, paint and solvents, or wood dust.
- Manufacturing – exposure to fossil fuels (such as mineral oils, coal products, benzene, and diesel engine exhaust), asbestos, silica and solvents.
- Service industries – second-hand smoke or diesel engine exhaust.
Being in a hazardous working environment is dangerous enough, but not following proper safety protocols is just asking for it!
“Following safety procedures is a must! It seems Malaysians don’t really bother about safety in the workplace. Always wear the right gear, especially if you’re dealing with radioactive materials such as in manufacturing factories”
Always remember guys, safety first!
Looking back at all the lifestyle choices mentioned by Dr. Khiddir, it’s hard not to feel somewhat distraught at how cancer can actually be prevented if we made the proper choices in our daily lives. Always remember, the choices we make today determine the course of our future.
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