Lifestyle changes can fight cancer

A little exercise and good nutrition can go a long way in preventing all types of cancer, according to the Women’s Coalition against Cancer in Malawi (Wocaca).

The coalition joined delegates from 120 countries in a recent First World Cancer Congress in Kuala Lumpur, South East Asia.

Mwakasungula: Cancer is a lifestyle disease

Speaking in an interview recently, Wocaca executive director Maud Mwakasungula said that one of the challenges in fighting continued occurrences of cancer in Malawi is poor lifestyle.

“People need to stop poor eating and focus on good nutrition and physical activity which prevents one from getting cancer,” she said.

Wocaca observes that cancer is one of the leading causes of ill health and deaths of millions across the globe and new cancer cases continue to arise even in Malawi.

World Cancer Research Fund UK says the types of food that cause cancer are fast foods- processed foods high in fats, sugars and oils.

The fund recommends healthy foods rich in fibre such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables to prevent many forms of cancer.

Mwakasungula also said that another issue raised at the congress was the national activation of ‘Treatment for All’.

This involves mobilising and equipping civil society to collectively identify advocacy priorities in line with the four pillars of ‘Treatment for All’.

“The four pillars raised included improving quality data for public health use, improved number of people to access early detection and accurate cancer diagnosis; quality and timely treatment in addition to supportive and palliative (pain killing) treatment for everyone,” she said.

Asked on the importance of early detection, Mwakasungula said it was important to build on current awareness campaigns to help the general public access timely treatment.

However, the four pillars output would only work if government and Cancer activists work together to translate the global into national action plans, which would strengthen cancer services and interventions thereby improving patient outcomes.

On preventing cancer, Maud said young girls should refrain from early sexual involvement and from having multiple sexual partners as this leads to cervical cancer. She also advised women to be aware of the health of their breasts and encouraged that they go to the hospitals if any abnormalities are noted.

“For women 30 years above it is encouraged that they go for early screening and treatment,” she said.

She also said the cancer problem does not only affect the life and health of the patient but the family as well as the nation.

“Financial costs are a burden to people diagnosed with cancer, their families and society as a whole. As a people, therefore, we need to watch what we eat, is it healthy? and take other preventive measures so as to ease personal burdens as well as on the government,” she said

Malawi experiences all kinds of cancer with cervical cancer carrying the highest figures in women.

Other types of cancer include Kaposi Sarcoma which mostly attacks males and is also found in children it can be traced through abnormalities on the skin and lymph nodes.

There is also cancer of the oesophagus, non-Hodgkin lymphoma which affects the immune system and people with weaker immune system are easily affected and cancer of the urinary bladder.

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