|HEALTH & FITNESS|
Healthy lifestyle can help reduce cancer risks
Save your knees before it’s too late
Healthy lifestyle can help reduce cancer risks
Cancer is spreading like wild fire, not only in India but all over the world. The incidence is increasing every minute and presently it is one of the biggest killers of human race.
Research in all aspects of cancer has been going on all over the medical world for decades, and billions of dollars have been spent to control cancer but a breakthrough is still eluding. The factors producing cancer and the exact mechanism of cancer initiation is yet not known. Therefore, it is not possible to prevent cancer in most cases.
But in a small percentage of cases cancer risks can be avoided to some extent by following a few practices:
Avoiding tobacco : Research has very clearly shown that tobacco is a predisposing cause of cancer. Tobacco is linked to the cancer of a large number of organs, the prominent ones being lungs, oral cavity, oesophagus ( food pipe ), stomach, pancreas, urinary bladder, prostate and breast. The association is overwhelming and has been well established
Consumption of tobacco in any form—smoking (cigarette, bidi, hookah), tobacco chewing, gutka in the mouth — can give rise to cancer. Cancer is not only harmful for the person who is consuming tobacco but also for the people around him, known as passive smokers.
Tobacco consumption is not only linked to cancer but to a number of other problems also — pneumonia (infection of the respiratory tract), heart disease, diabetes mellitus, peripheral vascular problems and others.
Smoking by pregnant women may result in an increased incidence of miscarriage, premature delivery, low birth weight of children, foetal deaths, etc.
It is unfortunate that in spite of overwhelming evidence for the ill-effects of tobacco and persistent efforts by the government to ban smoking, tobacco consumption continues, and incidence of smoking in India is on an upward swing particularly among urban females.
Avoiding radiation: Exposure to radiation is linked to the development of cancer and the glaring example being the atomic explosion in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II resulting in increasing number of new patients of cancer from this geographical area. Recent nuclear leak in Japan will further result in increased cases of cancer there and that also for decades.
Ultraviolet rays from the sun can give rise to skin cancer as is seen commonly among farmers working in the fields of Australia and New Zealand. Proper coverage with clothes can reduce the incidence of skin cancer.
Increasing use of radiological investigations, particularly CT scan, is a potential cause for cancer. It is believed that the incidence of cancer definitely increases with growing use of CT scan.
Effect of dietary constitutents: Healthy food having generous portions of fresh vegetables and fruits along with a reduced intake of fat can minimise the development of cancer, particularly of the large intestine. This, perhaps is the reason for a higher incidence of colon cancer among beef and pork-eating people of the West as compared to Asians.
Consumption of smoked fish by people of far-eastern countries like Japan, the Philippines and South , Korea is supposed to be responsible for the high incidence of cancer of the stomach and oesophagus.
Researchers have linked obesity with the cancer of many organs. Regular exercise, therefore, has a positive beneficial effect in reducing the risk of cancer.
Maintain proper hygiene : Poor sanitary conditions increase the risk of cancer of the genitalia in both sexes. Cancer of the cervix is the commonest cancer seen among Indian females, and it is more prevalent in women of poor socio-economic classes. Chronic infection of the genitalia, both in males and females, is a predisposing factor for cancer and should be treated early.
It has also been established that poor hygienic conditions in one partner can give rise to cancer in the spouse. The religious practice of circumcision undertaken by Muslim males gives immunity from the development of cancer of the cervix and penis among females and males.
Chemical agents : A number of chemical agents like coal tar, asbestos, mercury and aniline dyes contain cancer-causing components and people handling these agents should take preventive measures by using gloves, mask, gumboots, etc, so that they avoid direct skin contact and also do not inhale toxic fumes of these chemical agents.
Pesticides and insecticides also come under the same category, and people handling these should take adequate precaution to ward off the potential danger.
Alcohol: The relationship between alcohol consumption and development of cancer has not been yet well established, but alcohol is supposed to be one of the contributing factors for cancer of the mouth and the foodpipe. Heavy consumption of alcohol gives rise to cirrhosis of liver, which can give rise to cancer of the liver later on.
Hormones can influence the development of breast cancer. Research data have revealed that any unmarried woman, who has not given birth to a child or has given birth to her first child after the age of 30 years, a woman who has a long menstrual cycle (early onset and late cessation of menstruation cycle), a mother who has not breast-fed her children are more prone to develop breast cancer. All this is because of hormonal imbalance.
Contraceptive pills, hormone replacement therapy, using both progesterone and oestrogen are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
Chronic diseases : A number of chronic benign diseases of many organs can develop into cancer. Some of the common diseases which are known to change into cancerous forms are chronic inflammation of the cervix, mouth, gall bladder, stomach and the large intestine. Fibrocystic lesions of the breast, warts, polyps in the gastro-intestinal or urinary tract can also change into cancer. It is, therefore, mandatory that these diseases are treated properly and adequately in early stages so as to ward off cancer.
Cancer is now supposed to be a lifestyle disease. A disciplined lifestyle with good, balanced and nutritious diet and good habits can go a long way in reducing the risk of cancer.
The writer, a former Senior Professor and Head of Surgery, PGI, and ex-President, Association of the Surgeons of India, is the author of a book, “Cancer”.
Save your knees before it’s too late
Knee arthritis entails degeneration of the articular cartilage which becomes thin and rough, ultimately resulting in bone-to-bone contact. Synovium may produce extra fluid which results in joint swelling. Muscles supporting the joint become weak/wasted, leading to instability on walking.
Knee arthritis afflicts females more than males and black people more than white. Runners/jumpers are more prone to developing arthritis due to constant stress exerted on the joints.
Arthritis pain is generally due to the following:
Inflammation of the synovial membrane.
Pressure from knee effusion.
Stretching of the nerve endings.
Locking due to intra-articular loose bodies from the degenerative pieces of cartilage.
Pain and difficulty in walking.
Moviegoer’s sign-Individuals when sitting for prolonged periods while watching movie/sitting at a place of worship experience pain on getting up/walking.
Pain aggravates prior to rain as nerve endings become sensitive to pressure — respond to the drop of pressure which occurs before rains. Therefore, patients with knee arthritis can predict rain.
Swelling and restricted movement.
Crackling sound in the joint.
Stiffness resulting from rest/ inactivity which resolves post-activity.
Deformity vis-à-vis bowleg due to medial joint cartilage loss and narrowing. Due to pain on the inner side of the joint, patients tend to shift the weight on the outer part of the leg and foot which further increases bowleg deformity. Heel of the shoe on the outer part is generally worn out in such individuals.
Fifty to 70 per cent people above 65 years has evidence of osteoarthritis on radiographic examination. Hundred per cent people older than 75 years show evidence of osteoarthritis but about 50 per cent show such symptoms. Therefore, X-ray has limited relevance in knee arthritis.
Avoid the following:
Reduction in weight goes a long way in reducing arthritic pain.
Wearing sports shoes reduces load on the knee joint.
Knee braces are useful in cases of the unstable joint.
Elevate low bed/chair/toilet seat at the waist level.
Walking with aid/cane on the opposite side alleviates load on the knees.
Hyaluronic acid exists naturally in joint fluid and acts as a lubricant and shock absorber. Hyaluronic acid injections directly into the joint in a series of three to five shots can be given once a week. These injections improve the cushioning of the joint, decrease pain and enhance the range of motion of the joint.
Aerobic activity — Walking on soft regular surface is good. Brisk walking improves the flow of blood to the heart and also strengthens leg muscles.
In individual cases where knee bending is possible should be exercised. Stationary cycling is an ideal aerobic activity as it takes the load off from the knees. Precaution: While sitting on the saddle of the cycle, one should avoid excessive bending of the knee as that can irritate the knee cartilage leading to pain.
Knee arthritis, if managed early and effectively, can prevent agony/discomfort and disability later on.
The writer is a former doctor/physiotherapist, Indian cricket team. E-mail — chadha_r 2003@ yahoo.co.in
Obese moms-to-be risking their babies’ lives
London: Pregnant mothers who are obese are risking their babies’ lives, according to a new study. Researchers from Teesside University, Durham and Newcastle Universities found that more than one lakh babies a year are at the risk of death, deformity or serious health problems because of a surge in obesity among pregnant women, reports the Daily Express. They also found that maternal obesity has more than doubled over the last two decades with one in six women now clinically obese when they conceive. “We were really surprised to discover such high levels of obesity in such a young age group. A lot of women get pregnant without thinking of the consequences of being obese while pregnant,” said Nicola Heslehurst, a health scientist at Teesside University, who helped compile the study. — ANI
Anti-depressant use linked to thicker arteries
Washington: In a study of twin veterans, anti-depressant use has been linked to thicker arteries, possibly contributing to the risk of heart disease and stroke. Depression can heighten the risk for heart disease, but the effect of anti-depressant use revealed by the study is separate and independent from depression itself, says first author Amit Shah, a cardiology fellow at Emory University School of Medicine. The data suggest that anti-depressants may combine with depression for a negative effect on blood vessels, he says. Shah is a researcher working with Viola Vaccarino, chair of the Department of Epidemiology at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health. — ANI
Asthma linked to smoking, nicotine dependence
Washington: New research from the University of Cincinnati suggests that a lifetime history of daily smoking and nicotine dependence can increase the risk of asthma. The study analysed data from the National Comorbity Survey-Replication (NCS-R) - a large epidemiological survey of American adults. The study found that individuals who were diagnosed with asthma were 1.26 times more likely to have been a smoker, and twice as likely to have been nicotine dependent at some point in their lifetimes - compared to individuals without asthma. The researchers also found that the asthma-smoking association was stronger when focusing on nicotine dependence in the past 12 months. — ANI