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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1

Lifestyle and cancer

Department of ENT and Head-Neck Surgery, Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication29-Jun-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Jyoti Dabholkar
Department of ENT and Head-Neck Surgery, KEM Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jhnps.jhnps_21_18

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How to cite this article:
Dabholkar J. Lifestyle and cancer. J Head Neck Physicians Surg 2018;6:1

How to cite this URL:
Dabholkar J. Lifestyle and cancer. J Head Neck Physicians Surg [serial online] 2018 [cited 2022 Dec 5];6:1. Available from: https://www.jhnps.org/text.asp?2018/6/1/1/235627

Noncommunicable diseases or lifestyle diseases as they are commonly known and are primarily caused by our daily habits such as food fads (consuming junk and oily food), lack of physical activity, substance abuse-like alcohol, smoking, and tobacco in any form. The use of harmful pesticides and a lack of adequate sleep are the latest culprits. About 61% of the deaths in India are related to lifestyle diseases. “Lifestyle diseases” may be enlisted as: type II diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, asthma, tension headache, gastroesophageal reflux disease and gastric ulcers, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, hypothyroidism, and in extreme cases – cancer.

Coming to cancer as a lifestyle disease, people mistakenly believe that it is largely a hereditary disease as if fate and the family gene pool alone dictate our chances of getting sick. The truth, though, is that only about 5%–10% of all cancers develop from gene mutations passed down from one generation to the next. That means that for the other 90%–95% of cancers, the lifestyle choices one makes, the food we eat and the amount of exercise incorporated into our daily life have an important impact on the overall risk. Hence, prevention and awareness have become vital tools in the fight to end cancer, and they start with knowing how to nourish one's body and how to develop healthy habits with lasting benefits.

Head-and-neck cancer, in particular, is peculiar in two ways. One, alcohol and tobacco use can be prohibited and second, early diagnosis should be possible by self-examination of mouth and neck. Yet, we usually encounter 70% of our cancer cases presenting in Stage III and IV managing which erodes in our financial and manpower resources with a dismal outcome of <30% surviving at 5 years. To combat head-and-neck cancers effectively, we not only have to train the younger generation of surgeons to treat these cancers appropriately with a multidisciplinary approach but also need to strengthen our preventive measures of teaching the correct lifestyles to our patients, avoiding substance abuse by them, and educating them for self-examination.

Fundamentals of a holistic healthy lifestyle comprises of 7 steps namely, nutritious diet and timing of food, prana and breathing, right posture and exercise, sunshine, sleep and massage, secular meditation, and social skills. A mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, nuts whole grains while limiting the amount of fried foods, sugars, refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats will go a long way in cancer prevention. A regular dose of physical activity, deep breathing, and appropriate sleep are immune boosters. Substance abuse should be condemned; however, moderation is the key in alcohol consumption. These facts are well known to all of us as head-and-neck surgeons, but somehow, we fail to practise ourselves and be the role model for our patients. Moreover, taking it further, we must incorporate advising this to our patients at the time of the first consultation. The government policymakers must continue their active work and induce more stringent laws toward the ban of these substances especially sensitizing the youngsters to refrain from its use.

– Dr. Jyoti P. Dabholkar


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