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Types of cancers & how lifestyle affects each

Although the main cause of cancer is not known, evidence shows that our lifestyle can increase the risk of many types of cancer. About 90 percent of cancers in adults are related to environmental abnormalities and lifestyle. These include smoking, drinking alcohol, physically inactiveness, obesity, stress and eating unhealthy food. The risk of cancer has also increased in recent years due to environmental pollution. Epstein Barr virus (EBV), human papillomavirus (HPV), Hepatitis B and C and HIV infection also increase the risk of cancer.

Mainly due to diet and lifestyle, the risk of the following types of cancer increases: 1. Lung cancer Smoking and alcohol consumption are major causes of lung cancer. Data shows that about 90 percent of lung cancer cases are related to tobacco consumption. Many types of pollutants can also cause lung cancer. 2. Oral cavity cancer Consumption of tobacco products is the biggest risk factor of oral cavity cancer. Apart from this, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, obesity or nutritional deficiencies in the diet can also increase the risk of this type of cancer. These are also risk factors for head & Neck cancers. 3. Stomach and colon cancer Stomach and Colon cancers are also lifestyle cancers. Risk is especially increased by smoking and excessive consumption of processed foods. Consumption of too much salt also increases risk. Similarly, a red meat rich diet or a low fiber diet increase the risk of colon cancer. 4. Breast Cancer Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. This cancer is largely related to lifestyle. Obesity, stress, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity are among the risk factors. In modern lifestyle, women who do not breastfeed their child are also more prone to it than others. 5. Cervical cancer 

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women. HPV infection is one of the main reasons for this. A vaccine to prevent its infection is also available for girls between the ages of 9 to 26 years. Less hygienic lifestyle is also a risk factor for this type of cancer.

Dr. Nandini Choudhary Hazarika

Consultant - Medical Oncology, BMT

Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Delhi