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Advice: Prevent cancer - Live a healthy lifestyle

World Cancer Day, on 4 February, is aimed at making people aware of cancer and how to prevent it. The best way to prevent getting cancer, is to live a healthy lifestyle. This is also true for many other diseases.

What causes cancer?

Like any other disease, cancer can be caused by a number of things. These include smoking, stress, unhealthy eating habits and drinking too much alcohol.

People who live healthy lifestyles will not drink more than two alcohol drinks a day; they will stop smoking and will eat healthy food. They will also try to balance work, family, rest and play and will talk about their problems with family or friends, or join support groups.

What can I do?

  • Reduce stress by breathing properly. Take deep breaths through the nose and let it out through the mouth. Repeat for about ten minutes every day.
  • Stop smoking; it is one of the leading causes of cancer.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan. This includes drinking enough water, eating foods rich in fibre like bran, and eating about five fresh fruits and five portions of vegetables every day. Eat cooked tomatoes, tomato soup or sauce every day.
  • Eat a handful of nuts and seeds, for example sunflower and pumpkin seeds every day. Eat less fat especially animal fat and hardened vegetable fats. Change your cooking methods. Do not use fat or oils, but rather boil food for a short period in a little bit of water.
  • Stay away from direct sunlight, especially between 11 o'clock in the morning and three o'clock in the afternoon. During this time the heat from the sun is very strong and can damage the skin. Wear a hat and use a sunscreen lotion to protect the skin. Protect the eyes by wearing sunglasses.

What are the signs of cancer?

Look out for any changes in your body and go to hospital for a check-up. The following are some warning signs of cancer:

  • change in normal bladder or bowel actions
  • any sore that does not heal easily
  • unusual bleeding or discharge from any body opening
  • thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere in the body
  • indigestion, inability or difficulty in swallowing
  • nagging, constant cough or hoarseness of voice.

- Muzi Mkhwanazi