Cancer and our Lifestyles
In 2007 the World Cancer Research Fund released a report based on the analysis of 7 000 research studies that investigated the relationship between our lifestyles and cancer. The results of this study ended much of the vagueness surrounding what can cause cancer and what helps to prevent it. The report was said to be "the most sweeping examination ever conducted of the relationship between cancer and the way we live". It identified the five most important factors that contribute to the formation of cancer in our bodies. The most important of the five was smoking, followed by obesity, incorrect eating habits, a sedentary lifestyle and the abuse of alcohol. The report should have received world-wide acclaim and yet it was received with an uncaring silence. Today these five cancer-contributing factors are "old hat". We all know about them. So why do so many people choose to ignore them? One of the main reasons is what we call "braggadocio". How often have you heard people say; "If you give up smoking, drinking and junk food, you don't live longer, it just seems like it" or "I'll take my chances" and "Something's going to get me in the end"? How many times have you heard people tell of someone they know who "smoked eighty cigarettes a day and lived to ninety" or someone who "never did any exercise, ate junk food all day and also lived to ninety"? We seldom hear about the young marathon runner who never smoked, ate healthy food, used sunscreen but whose life was cut short at twenty five by cancer. Why do people clutch at the one-in-a-million oddity that lived to ninety and yet ignore the multitude of people whose lives are shortened by the five factors exposed by the World cancer Research Fund? If you were diagnosed with cancer would you tell your frightened family that you are glad that you never exercised, never stopped smoking or drinking and ate junk food? No. Braggadocio isn't a characteristic of cancer victims. And yet we still continue to believe that bad things only happen to other people. Have you ever stopped to think that to others you are those "other people"? We all need to face up to the fact that bad things can and do happen to us and stop using witty excuses for not looking after our health. We need to pay attention to what food labels tell us, what our doctors and medical research institutes tell us and most importantly we need to stand back and look at ourselves and the way we live. "Eating salads, exercising, avoiding alcohol and tobacco just so that I can spend an extra ten years in an old age home" is about the most feckless statement imaginable. Adopting healthy habits is not just about longevity - quality of life is just as important. Every day we see overweight people struggling to walk up stairs, unable to bend down and pick up something they dropped or simply walk from their car to the supermarket. Are these people enjoying their lives? I doubt it. The only time they're happy is when they're gorging themselves on junk food on the sofa in front of the television. In the end the onus is on us to improve our quality of life. The World Cancer Research Fund report gave us the reasons to act and no crass observations about our destinies will hide the fact that, unless we become active in looking after our health we should not be surprised if we become one of those "other people".
© 2013 Oliver T. Spedding
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.