Risk Factors for Cancer
While we don’t understand fully what causes all cancers, unhealthy lifestyle choices have been linked to a number of cancers, so it makes sense to make healthier lifestyle choices in order to lower personal risk of cancer after treatment.
1) Young adults with Human Immodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Aquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are at higher risk for certain cancers such as Kaposi sarcoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, due to these viruses weakening their immune system.
3) Unsafe sexual practices may put young adults at risk for contracting the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – certain strains of HPV in particular are linked to cervical, head, neck and throat cancers.
4) The use of sunbeds and experiencing bad sunburn may result in skin cancer later in life.
5) The prolonged use of steroids (to build muscles and endurance) may result in poor health and may also lead to a cancer diagnosis later in life.
6) A family history of cancer due to genetic factors.
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Choosing a Healthy Lifestyle
While you are receiving cancer treatment it is important to eat and drink healthily, according to your medical team’s advice and also to exercise if your medical team permits it.
Once you are in remission, you can adopt a healthy balanced lifestyle to help lower your risk for cancer into the future.
Many cancers are related to unhealthy lifestyle choices.
A balanced lifestyle includes:
- making smart food and drink choices
- being physically active on a regular basis and maintaining a healthy weight
- being SunSmart (this includes avoiding sunbeds and sunless tanning products) – anyone regardless of how light or dark their skin tone is may be diagnosed with skin cancer
- avoiding known cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) in the environment
- avoiding tobacco (including vaping, hubbly bubbly and tips to help you quit) and alcohol which are known carcinogens
- knowing what is normal for your body and doing regular self-examinations: females breast | males testicles | everyone skin
- knowing the symptoms of cancer and going for regular health checks and cancer screening (know your family’s medical and cancer history) – the earlier cancer is detected the sooner it can be treated and the higher chance of successful treatment
- Ensure that you have had your HPV vaccination (to lower risk for HPV related cancer) and Hepatitus B vaccination (to lower risk for liver cancer). If you have daughters please note that the Department of Health has an HPV vaccination programme for school girls. The vaccination is also available at pharmacies or through doctors for boys.
Take the Test
Use CANSA’s online Lifestyle Risk Assessment Tool that can help identify health risks that you need to address and provide advice on how to lower your personal cancer risk.