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Even 90 percent cancer incidence can be attributed to environmental, not genetic, factors. Bad habits and unhe althy lifestyle may be responsible for 30% of all cancer cases. The risk of developing malignant neoplasms may be minimized by the implementation of daily he alth-promoting behaviors, which are listed in the European Code against Cancer. The recommendations of the Code are popularized by the nationwide educational and information campaign as part of the Primary Cancer Prevention Task financed by the Minister of He alth.

The European Code Against Canceris a set of recommendations that indicate what carcinogenic behaviors should be eliminated in order to reduce the risk of cancer. The Code contains a set of simple lifestyle rules and recommendations for participating in population screening.

It is estimated that 1/3 of cancer cases can be prevented, and 1/3 successfully detected and treated, preventing death. Changing everyday behavior has a huge impact on he alth and minimizes the risk of contracting many chronic diseases, including cancer. 1 All the principles in the European Code Against Cancer promote change in social behavior and lifestyle and are backed by scientific research. By following the Code's recommendations, you can help prevent cancer by improving your overall he alth.

1. Do not smoke. Do not use tobacco in any form

Smoking is associated with, among other things, cancers of the lungs, esophagus, throat and mouth, and contributes to 30 percent. cancer deaths. Lung cancer is a disease that occurs almost exclusively in tobacco smokers - it is the first cause of cancer mortality in Poland, both among men and women. Research shows that about 50 percent. people who started smoking at an early age will die because of it (1/4 will die in middle age, depriving themselves of 20-25 years of life in relation to non-smokers). The greatest risk is cigarette smoking, but cigar and pipe smoking are associated with a comparable risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx and esophagus.

2. Create a smoke-free environment at home

Tobacco smoke exhaled byenvironment - often referred to as 'environmental tobacco smoke' (ETS) - causes forced 'passive smoking' and adversely affects people who breathe it. People exposed to tobacco smoke introduce into their body the same carcinogenic and poisonous substances as the smoker. They are most harmful to pregnant women and young children. Smoking in front of a child increases the risk of respiratory infections, developing severe asthma and sudden infant death. Every year, almost 200 people who have never smoked die in Poland because of forced smoking.

3. Maintain a he althy body weight

Obesity is the second factor in the development of chronic diseases after smoking, especially diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and malignant neoplasms such as kidney, colon and pancreatic cancer. In postmenopausal women who are only overweight (BMI=25.0-29.9 kg / m2), a moderate increase in the risk of breast cancer has been shown. However, in the case of obesity (BMI from 30.0 kg / m2) it is already 30%. (however, no association was found between the occurrence of breast cancer and obesity in premenopausal women). It is worth knowing that obese men suffer from cancer more often than women.

4. Be physically active in your daily life. Limit the time you spend sitting

Exercise not only helps you maintain a he althy body weight, but also lowers your risk of developing many chronic diseases, including colon cancer. They probably also influence the risk of breast cancer, endometrial cancer and prostate cancer. In order to maintain an appropriate body weight, especially in sedentary people, regular, moderate exercise is recommended. Usually it is recommended to exercise 3 times a week for half an hour. However, from the point of view of cancer prevention, more frequent, more intense exercise is more beneficial.

5. Follow the recommendations of a proper diet

  • eat lots of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits

The consumption of high-fiber grain products and whole grain grains is associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer and other cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. In turn, eating large amounts of vegetables and fruits reduces the risk of various cancers, especially cancers of the esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum and pancreas. Fruit and vegetables should be eaten with every meal and consistently substitute for snacks between meals. According to the recommendations of the WHO and the relevant US government agencies: “eat vegetables and fruits5 times a day ”(minimum 400 g a day, ie 2 pieces of fruit and 200 g of vegetables). Following the above recommendation may reduce the risk of neoplastic disease.

Eat vegetables and fruits 5 times a day, i.e. a minimum of 400 g per day, i.e. 2 pieces of fruit and 200 g of vegetables.

  • reduce your intake of high-calorie foods (high in sugar or fat) and avoid sugary drinks

Eating high-calorie foods that contain a lot of fat or sugar has a very negative effect on our he alth. Research shows that as much as 72 percent. Poles admit to eating this type of product. Foods high in sugar can cause adverse fluctuations in blood glucose levels, which in turn can lead to diabetes, and is also one of the processes that can promote the development of cancer.

  • avoid processed meat; limit the consumption of red meat and foods high in s alt

Excluding processed meat from the diet and limiting the consumption of red meat is especially important in reducing the risk of developing colorectal cancer. In order to stay he althy, you should also limit your consumption of foods that contain a lot of s alt. S alt increases the risk of stomach cancer and also retains water in the body, which increases blood pressure, and therefore increases the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.

6. If you drink alcohol of any kind, limit your consumption

Few people are aware that alcohol is a carcinogen. Whether you are drinking beer, wine or vodka, your risk of getting sick increases with every sip. Consuming even small doses of alcohol - 10 g per day (approximately 0.2 l of beer, a glass of wine or 25 g of alcoholic spirits) has been shown to slightly increase the risk of breast cancer compared to nondrinking women, while an increased risk of other cancers (such as cancer of the upper gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, liver or colon) probably occurs with slightly more alcohol consumption (20-30 g per day).

IMPORTANT!The daily limit for men should not exceed 20 g of ethanol (i.e. about 2 glasses of beer, 2 glasses of wine or 2 small glasses of strong alcohol), and for women - 10 h.

Alcohol becomes even more dangerous when you smoke cigarettes at the same time. People who smoke and consume alcohol regularly are 10-100 times more likely to develop the disease than those who have never smoked or drunk alcohol. That's why it's worth itminimize alcohol consumption. According to many scientific studies, 10 years after stopping drinking alcohol, the risk of developing esophageal cancer is reduced by 60%.

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7. Avoid overexposure to the sun's rays

The best protection against the sun during the summer is to stay out of its reach. When spending time outdoors, be sure to protect yourself from the sun between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. (these are the hours of greatest exposure to UV radiation). It is recommended that you stay in the shade, wear sunglasses and wear suitable sun protection clothing. For example, densely woven cotton provides good protection from the sun. Burns to the exposed skin of the face and ears can be prevented by using cosmetics that contain sunscreen. They are likely to protect against squamous cell carcinoma, but there is insufficient evidence that their use helps to avoid the occurrence of basal cell carcinoma and skin melanoma. However, even those who use filters should be reminded of the need to avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight, which may increase the risk of melanoma, as there is evidence that people who use filters with higher security factors may extend the time spent in the sun.

You should also give up the solarium. By using it, we increase the risk of skin cancer by 20%, and in people younger than 30 years it increases by up to 75%.

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8. Protect yourself from carcinogens at work

People who work in places where the concentration of carcinogens may be higher than in other places, e.g. people working in the rubber industry, are also at risk of developing cancer.

Protect yourself from carcinogens in the workplace. Follow the he alth and safety at work guidelines.

The most common occupational exposures include: solar radiation, passive inhalation of tobacco smoke, dust containing free silica, diesel exhaust gases, radon decay products, wood dust, benzene, asbestos, formaldehyde, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, chromium compounds VI, cadmium and nickel.

Malignant neoplasms most often associated with occupational exposure include: lung cancer and bladder cancer, cancer of the larynx, leukemia, malignancies of the nasal cavity and skin (other thanmelanoma).

9. Protect yourself from radon

Radon-222 is a naturally occurring noble gas - it is formed as a result of decay in the Earth's crust. Its source is soil, and sometimes also building materials and water.

Radon has been proven to cause lung cancer.

Miners are a group particularly exposed to radon radiation. Research conducted on this professional group has proven that radon causes lung cancer and is probably the second most common cause of lung cancer after smoking.

It is also worth knowing that a significant risk of radiation emitted by this gas occurs in unenclosed rooms, especially in residential houses. Therefore, when building a new house, it is better to protect its interior against excessive radon concentration. Limiting the penetration of this element is often possible in already existing puddings.

10. Women should remember that:

  • breastfeeding reduces the mother's risk of developing cancer. If you can, breastfeed your baby
  • Hormone replacement therapy, which replenishes hormones in the body, increases the risk of developing certain types of cancer. hormone-dependent tumors. Estrogens and progesterone used in HRT stimulate the receptors of the female sex hormone, which is a very powerful factor in stimulating cells to divide and grow, and further to develop tumors. This includes, inter alia, breast cancer

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11. Take part in the immunization program

About 18 percent tumors in the world population are attributed to chronic viral, bacterial and parasitic infections. For example, HPV (human papillomavirus) causes cervical cancer. In turn, the cause of most cases of liver cancer in Europe is chronic infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) or C virus (HCV). The latter disease can be prevented by taking a protective vaccine against viral hepatitis.

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12 Participate in screening programs

  • women over 25 should participate in cervical cancer screening

Cervical cancer is one of the most common malignant neoplasms in developing countries, accounting for around 25% of all cancers in women. Screening for cervical cancer allows for its early detection, which should be repeated every 3-5 years until the age of

  • women over 50 should participate in breast cancer screening

A large body of evidence supports the effectiveness of screening mammography in reducing mortality from breast cancer. It is estimated that a well-prepared and properly implemented population-wide mammography screening program will reduce mortality from breast cancer in women over 50 by at least 20%. It is worth knowing that mammography allows the detection of clinically undetectable breast tumors. It should be performed every 2 years.

  • women and men over 50 should participate in colorectal cancer screening

The benefits of screening for colon and rectal cancer are indicated by the possibility of recognizing precancerous lesions (adenomatous polyps) and good prognosis for patients diagnosed at early stages. Screening is recommended every 2 years, although the cost-effectiveness has also been demonstrated for performing this screening once a year.

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1. European Code of Fighting Cancer, third Polish edition, edited by prof. dr. hab. n. med. Witold Zatoński, 2003.

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