03rd February 2016
Today is World Cancer Day, a day to reflect on what we can do individually, and collectively, by taking action to reduce the global burden of cancer. The theme is "WE CAN. I CAN".
Cancer affects everyone differently; we all have different and varying actions to take to reduce the impact on individuals, families and communities. The question is, "What can I do? What can you do? What can we do? Here are a few actions we can all take to reduce the burden of cancer.
I can make healthy lifestyle choices:
I can reduce my risk of cancer by choosing healthy foods and drinks. I can choose to quit smoking.
Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of cancer globally. Quitting smoking will have a major positive impact on an individual's health, and that of their families and friends.
The good news is that quitting at any age is beneficial in increasing life expectancy and improving quality of life.
Individuals can reduce their risk of many common cancers by maintaining a healthy weight, and making physical activity a part of their every-day lives.
Overweight and obesity increase risk of bowel, breast, uterine, ovarian, pancreatic, oesophagus, kidney, liver, advanced prostate and gall bladder cancers.
Reducing alcohol consumption decreases the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, bowel, liver, and breast. Overall, more than one third of the most common cancers could be prevented by a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy body weight. Everyone can make healthy lifestyle choices to reduce their risk of cancer.
I can understand that early detection saves lives:
Increasing awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer and the importance of timely treatment has been shown to improve survival from cancer. Early detection makes it easier to treat and cure to increase the rate of survival. Get tested early.
I can create healthy environments:
Schools, workplace and community have important roles to play in preventing cancers. Every school can foster a culture of health by providing nutritional meals and recreational facilities for physical activities as part of the curriculum.
Workplaces are encouraged to put policies and wellness programs in place to motivate and allow employees to adopt healthier lifestyles. These can include 100% smoke free environment, smoking cessation tools and healthy food options, walk and other coordinated physical activities for employees and encouraging and supporting workers to participate in screening programs.
Our communities need to be transformed with green spaces for all to be involved in physical activity with the establishment of parks, walking trails, and other sporting facilities, sidewalks with walking spaces and well lit streets to accommodate the enjoyment of physical activity. Advocate for safer streets and parks for us to play.
I can take control of my cancer journey:
People living with cancer can take control of their cancer journey by being empowered to be active participants in decisions about their care, having their choices respected and their needs met.
We can work together for increased impact:
The cancer burden can be reduced through partnership between government, civil society and the private sector. This partnership will enable our scarce resources to be better utilized and to build capacity through the exchange of skills, knowledge, public campaigns and driving policy and decision making to effect change.
We can inspire action, we can take action:
Let us all spread the word and raise the awareness on the fight against cancer. "WE CAN, I CAN."
Ms. Debbie Francis
Ministry of Health & the Environment
Redcliffe Street, St. John's, Antigua
Tel: 1(268) 721-5904