Are we Shielding Enough Against Cancer?

Are we Shielding Enough Against Cancer?

Are we Shielding Enough Against Cancer?

Rahul Bhandari, IAS

From ripping our physical and mental well-being to breaking the banks – cancers, especially, in India, have taken a toll over the lives of average individuals. Alarmingly, India is reporting 11,57,294 new cancer cases and more than 7,84,821 deaths every year. More so, the risks for developing cancer before the age of 75 is mounting to 9.81% in Men and 9.42% in women every year, and the cancer rates have doubled in the past two decades in India, states the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Unfortunately, the situation is the most gruesome in the state of Punjab – with 90 out of 1,00,000 persons being affected with cancer – higher than the national average of 80 in 1,00,000.

We are quick to blame it on the environmental factors such as pollution, use of pesticides, etc and further, on the government agencies in clearing the air, but are we yet doing anything about our own subconscious submission to the cancer-causing lifestyle practices – including the unregulated consumption of alcohol, tobacco and junk? Also, how much are we contributing to cut down on the environmental pollution? It is time to think about it. The environmental factors cannot be ruled out for cancer causes, but facts indicate that human behaviours are greater contributors of this rapid rise in the cancer cases. Evidently, the solution lies more in prevention that cure.

Psychological and Financial Implications of Cancer

Studies have shown that there is a deep psychological and financial stigma attached to diagnosis and treatment of cancers. An average cancer patient undergoes extremes of mental and physical pain – showing up in the form of anxiety and uncertainties about their survival. The high costs of therapies – which are already out of pocket for most households, become almost three times in the private settings when you want to reduce the waiting time at government therapy centers.

What Individuals can Do About Prevention of Cancer


Tobacco is one of the top accelerators of cancers in human body. The damage can induce even through passive exposure to tobacco. It affects the larynx, lungs, mouth and pancreas majorly, though. Once you are addicted, you would need a doctor’s intervention to prevent it.


Excessive consumption of alcohol, trans fat-rich foods and red meats can potentially increase the risks of cancer. The amount of these foods and the length of consumption can deeply influence the onset of cancer. The solution can be to switch to virgin olive oils and vegetarian, non-fried foods. Fruits and low calorific foods can be added to daily diets.

Physical Activity:

Weight management can bring down risks of most common cancers such as breast, prostate, lungs, kidney, etc. Ample physical activity can powerfully bridge the gaps and risks. Upto 45 minutes of physical activity per day can mitigate risks.

UV Protection:

The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 am and 4pm. The UV rays, once touching the skin can erupt cancer formation. Skin cancers, however, can be prevented easily. Hence, direct exposure must be avoided.

Diagnostic Alertness:

Annual health check-ups are an effective way for early diagnosis of cancer. This can ensure effectiveness of treatments and hence, the survival.

Other developed countries such as US and UK have tapped cancer deaths both by boosting prevention and also the treatment therapies. The cancer death rates have started to deplete in those countries. It is time we take these as an inspiration and start acting now!


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