Why Cancer Is Increasing

The increase in cancer cases in the country is highly attributed to a change in lifestyle.

In an interview with New Era on Thursday, a nurse at the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN), Nelly Coetzee, said many people do not follow healthy diets and do not exercise.

“Cancer is on the increase because of our lifestyles. Lifestyle plays a role in most cancers. People do not eat vegetables anymore and they do not exercise. Even children sit in front of the television all day instead of playing outside,” she said. Families who have a history with cancer are also at risk.

Skin cancer is the leading cancer in the country, said Coetzee. This is because of “our harsh sun,” she added. Prostate cancer is common in men while cervical and breast cancer are common among women.

Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papilomavirus, which is transmitted sexually from men to women. Women at risk of suffering from this type of cancer are those who are HIV positive, she said. This is because their immune system is generally weak and prone to diseases. Also at risk are women who have multiple sexual partners and those who engage in early sexual activity.

Women who smoke are at risk as well, Coetzee noted. In the case of prostate cancer, Coetzee pointed out there is no cause, but rather risk factors. These include the type of diet, lack of exercise, family history, smoking and alcohol misuse. Breast cancer also has no cause but lifestyle can play a role. In the past, it was more common in older women. “But these days women in their twenties can also get it,” said Coetzee. “But the older you get the higher your risk,” she explained. Risk factors for this type of cancer, said Coetzee, are diet, family history, stress and hormone replacement, amongst others. Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Petrina Haingura, said “cancer is one of our dreaded non-communicable diseases that can be prevented and cured if we all ensure that everyone has the correct information.”

Haingura further said people should be informed on steps to protect themselves “by ensuring that the food they eat is safe and free from all carcinogens”. Statistics indicate that in 80 percent of cancer cases in Namibia sufferers are diagnosed at an aanced stage with little hope of survival, the First Lady Madam Penehupifo Pohamba said this week. Coetzee stressed that it is important for people to look out for cancer warning signs and go for regular checkups. This would save lives. By Alvine Kapitako

Source : New Era