Doctors suggest these lifestyle changes to prevent cancer risk amid Covid-19 | Health


According to World Cancer Day Organisation, we currently live in a time of awe-inspiring advancements in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment but many of us who seek cancer care hit barriers at every turn. It highlighted, “Income, education, geographical location and discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability and lifestyle are just a few of the factors that can negatively affect care.”

The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network too pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic and responses to help prevent its spread have had a far-reaching impact on the cancer community which includes delays and cancellations of health care services, economic challenges affecting their ability to pay for care, and concerns about their future ability to access and afford the care they need. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Jayesh Sharma, Chief of Medical Services and Senior Surgical Oncologist at Balco Medical Center revealed, “Oncologists across the world are worried about the impact of pandemic on cancer outcomes. A study published in Lancet showed that cancer treatment declined, starting from the first wave itself. In addition, we expect to see many more advanced cases of cancer in the coming years because people have delayed their routine checkups and screening.”

Lifestyle changes to prevent cancer risk amid Covid-19:

On the brighter side, studies have found that those with the highest levels of physical activity are less prone to cancer. Dr Jayesh Sharma suggested, “Active lifestyle, healthy eating and avoiding addictions will continue to be cornerstones of prevention but focus on early detection and prompt treatment will probably save many more lives.”

Factors like prevalent sedentary lifestyle, impact on mental health and lack of preventive health check-ups have added to the burden of people suffering with cancer during Covid-19 times. Hence, Dr Ramesh Sarin, Senior Consultant and Surgical Oncologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi advised, “To prevent cancer during Covid, it is advised to think positive, practice yoga, do some physical exercise, eat a healthy meal and be strict to yourself to continue this whole as a routine. It should always be known that while following Covid appropriate behaviour, one should not forget the other important good habits to maintain a healthy life.”

With our current urban lifestyle, stress levels are always at a high level therefore controlling the stress level is an important factor to maintain a healthy life. Stressing that change in lifestyle, in reality, is not much difficult, Dr Garima Sawhney, Co-founder of Pristyn Healthcare offered, “Small steps like quitting smoking along with chewing tobacco or gutkha or restricting consumption of alcohol and replacing these habits with Yoga, meditation, morning walk or free-hand exercise can keep the stress level low and eventually help us in leading a healthy life.”

Pointing out that working from home has resulted in our life becoming sedentary, Dr Garima advised, “Easy online food ordering has made junk food our daily diet. We have to replace junk food with seasonal fruits, nuts, sprouts etc. Yoga and a fifteen minute walk can help us maintain our weight and ensure that we do not gain any extra fat from sitting throughout the day. Apart from these change in habits, regular screening or health check-up is the need of the hour. Just remember, any type of cancer, if detected early, can always be treated successfully.”

She added, “Yearly full body check-up, regular breast cancer screening and undergoing mammography, if age is above 40 years, should be the part of our life now. Vaccination is also a very important factor in preventing cancer. For example, the risk of liver cancer can be reduced by Hepatitis B Vaccine. Similarly, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Vaccine can reduce the risk of cervical cancer. History of cancer in the family should never be ignored. Early screening and gene mapping is always recommended; Cancer can then be detected early or can be averted.”

The health expert concluded by highlighting that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has put a halt to our regular health check-ups. Hence, regular screening and mapping should be taken on priority and should become a part of our life.