WHO Outlines Lifestyles That Increase Risk Of Cancer

Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole


Five leading dietary and behavioral life-styles that cause one-third of deaths from cancer have been highlighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

They are low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, alcohol use, and high body mass index.

“Tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer and is responsible for approximately 22 per cent of cancer death,” WHO disclosed.

According to it, cancer causing infections, such as hepatitis and human papilloma virus (HPV), are responsible for up  to 25 per cent of cancer cases in low and middle income countries.

The global authority on public health is saddened that late-stage presentation and inaccessible diagnosis and treatment are common.

WHO declared that economic impact of cancer is significant and is increasing .

“Only one in five low and middle income countries have the necessary data to drive cancer policy,” it pointed out, noting that cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide.

WHO said:  “Between 30-50 per cent of cancer can currently be prevented by avoiding risk factors and implementing existing evidence-based prevention strategies,”

It stressed that the cancer burden can also be reduced through early detection of cancer and management of patients who develop cancer.  “Many cancers,” WHO maintained, “have a high chance of cure if diagnosed early and treated adequately.”

The health body warned that tobacco as a risk factor includes cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

It advised people to pursue prevention strategies.  “To prevent  cancer,”  WHO stressed, “people may vaccinate against HPV and Hepatits B virus, reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation, reduce exposure to ionizing radiation (occupational or medical diagnostic imaging).”

WHO also advocated early diagnosis which consists of three steps that must be integrated and provided in a timely manner.  They are:  awareness and accessing care, clinical evaluation, diagnosis and staging, as well as  access to treatment.

It emphasized that potential for cure among early detectable cancers is high.  “Some of the most common cancer types, such as breast cancer,  cervical cancer, oral cancer and colorectal cancer have high cure rates when detected early and treated according to best practices,” WHO elaborated.

World Cancer Day is observed on 4th February every year.


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