Learn About Cancer
Learn about Cancer; Seek Help
Millions of people in Bangladesh get cancer each year. Whether you have cancer or are close to someone who does, understanding what to expect can help you cope.
Many cancer deaths could be prevented by making healthy choices like not smoking, staying at a healthy weight, eating right, keeping active, and getting recommended screening tests.
Stay Away from Tobacco: Quitting tobacco is not easy, but it can be done.
It’s never too late to quit using tobacco. The sooner you quit, the more you can reduce your chances of getting cancer and other diseases.
Within minutes of smoking your last cigarette, your body begins to recover:
20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) start to regain normal function in your lungs, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s. Your heart attack risk drops dramatically.
5 years after quitting: Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Your stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2 to 5 years.
10 years after quitting: Your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. Your risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.
15 years after quitting: Your risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.
These are just a few of the benefits of quitting smoking for good. Quitting smoking lowers the risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better, and helps the heart and lungs.
Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than that of non-smokers. Quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related disease by about 90%. Quitting while you are younger will reduce your health risks more, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.
Benefits of quitting smoking that you’ll notice right away
Kicking the tobacco habit offers some rewards that you’ll notice right away and some that will show up more slowly over time. Right away you’ll save the money you spent on tobacco! And here are just a few other benefits you may notice:
- Food tastes better.
- Your sense of smell returns to normal.
- Your breath, hair, and clothes smell better.
- Your teeth and fingernails stop yellowing.
- Ordinary activities leave you less out of breath (for example, climbing stairs or light housework).
- You can be in smoke-free buildings without having to go outside to smoke.
Quitting also helps stop the damaging effects of tobacco on how you look, including premature wrinkling of your skin, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Diet and activity factors that affect risks for certain cancers
The risk of breast cancer in women is increased by several factors that cannot be easily changed:
- Having your first period before age 12
- Not having children or having your first child after age 30
- Late age at menopause
- Family history of breast cancer
Other well-known risk factors include the use of menopausal hormone therapy and exposure of the breasts to radiation, especially at a young age.
Both increased body weight and weight gain as an adult are linked with a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause. Many studies have shown that moderate to vigorous physical activity is linked with lower breast cancer risk. A diet that is rich in vegetables, fruit, poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy products has also been linked with a lower risk of breast cancer in some studies. But it is not clear if specific vegetables, fruits, or other foods can lower risk. Most studies have not found that lowering fat intake has much of an effect on breast cancer risk.
To possibly reduce the risk of breast cancer the best advice is to get regular, intentional physical activity and reduce lifetime weight gain by limiting your calories and getting regular physical activity.
The risk of colorectal cancer is higher for those with relatives who have had colorectal cancer or polyps. Risk may also be increased by long-term tobacco use and excessive alcohol use. Several studies have found a higher risk of colorectal cancer with increased alcohol intake, especially among men.
Most studies have found that being overweight or obese increases the risk of colorectal cancer in both men and women, but the link seems to be stronger in men. Having more belly fat (that is, a larger waistline) has also been linked to colorectal cancer.
Overall, diets that are high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains (and low in red and processed meats) have been linked with lower colorectal cancer risk, although it's not exactly clear which factors are important. Many studies have found a link between red meat or processed meat intake and colorectal cancer risk.
Studies show a lower risk of colorectal cancer and polyps with increasing levels of activity. Moderate activity on a regular basis lowers the risk, but vigorous activity may have an even greater benefit.
Several studies have found that calcium, vitamin D, or a combination of the two may help protect against colorectal cancer.
To possibly reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, the best advice is to:
- Increase the intensity and amount of physical activity.
- Limit intake of red and processed meats.
- Get the recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D.
- Eat more vegetables and fruits.
- Avoid obesity and weight gain around the midsection.
- Avoid excess alcohol.
It is also very important to follow regular colorectal screening because finding and removing polyps in the colon can help prevent colorectal cancer.
Endometrial (uterine) cancer
There is strong evidence of a link between being overweight or obese and having a higher risk of endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus). Some research has also found a link between having more belly fat (that is, a larger waistline) and endometrial cancer. The link to weight is thought to result from the increase in estrogen levels that happens when women are overweight.
Studies have also found a lower endometrial cancer risk with high physical activity levels, although in some studies this has been limited to women who are overweight or who have not yet gone through menopause. Spending more time sitting (regardless of overall activity level) has also been linked with a higher risk.
Vegetable and fiber intake may lower risk, although some studies have not found this. The evidence for red meat, saturated fat, animal fat, and alcohol raising risk is also conflicting among different studies.
To possibly lower the risk of endometrial cancer the best advice is to get to and stay at a healthy weight and to get regular physical activity.
The causes of kidney cancer are not clear, but the best-known risk factors that can be changed are obesity and tobacco smoking. Studies looking for links between specific parts of the diet and kidney cancer have not shown clear results. A small number of studies have found a possible link between physical activity and lowered risk of kidney cancer.
To possibly lower the risk of kidney cancer the best advice is to stay at a healthy weight and avoid tobacco use.
More than 85% of lung cancers result from tobacco smoking, but other factors, such as radon exposure, are also linked to lung cancer.
Many studies have shown that the risk of lung cancer is lower among both smokers and non-smokers who eat at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruits a day. Although healthful eating may reduce the risk of lung cancer, the risks from tobacco remain high. Using high-dose beta-carotene and/or vitamin A supplements has been shown to increase (not decrease) lung cancer risk among smokers.
To possibly lower the risk of lung cancer the best advice is to avoid tobacco use and secondhand smoke and to avoid radon exposure.
Mouth, throat, and esophagus cancers
Tobacco (including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and snuff), alcohol, and especially the combination of the two, increase the risk for cancers of the mouth, larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), and esophagus.
Obesity raises the risk for cancer in the lower esophagus and at the junction of the esophagus and stomach (likely due to increased acid reflux). Very hot beverages and foods may also increase the risk of mouth and esophagus cancers, likely as a result of the damage heat can cause.
A diet high in vegetables and fruits may reduce the risk of mouth and esophagus cancers.
The best advice to possibly reduce the risk of these cancers is to:
- Avoid all forms of tobacco.
- Restrict alcohol intake.
- Avoid obesity.
- Eat at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
The causes of ovarian cancer are not well understood. Family history is a risk factor, but only about 10% of ovarian cancers are inherited.
There are no clearly proven nutritional risk factors for ovarian cancer. Some studies have found that obesity may increase the risk for ovarian cancer, as may a diet high in fat (especially saturated fat). The role of physical activity in ovarian cancer risk is unclear. Studies of vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy products, and alcohol have not found clear links.
Tobacco smoking, type 2 diabetes, and impaired glucose tolerance (sometimes called "pre-diabetes," or "borderline diabetes") all increase the risk for pancreatic cancer.
Several studies have found a link between being overweight or obese and having a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. Some research has also found a link between having more belly fat (that is, a larger waistline) and pancreatic cancer, especially in women.
Some studies have suggested that pancreatic cancer risk may be reduced with higher levels of physical activity, especially if it is part of a person's job. On the other hand, diets high in red and processed meats and low in fruits and vegetables have been linked with increased risk in some studies. More research is needed to confirm these findings.
Few studies have looked at possible links between specific foods or alcohol intake and risk of pancreatic cancer.
To possibly lower the risk of pancreatic cancer the best advice is to avoid tobacco use and stay at a healthy weight.
Prostate cancer is related to age, family history, and male sex hormones, but just how diet and activity factors might affect risk is not clear.
In recent years, researchers have learned it may be important to distinguish between prostate cancers that are aggressive (likely to grow and spread quickly) and those that are less likely to cause problems.
For example, some studies have found that men who are overweight may have a lower risk of prostate cancer overall, but a higher risk of prostate cancers that are likely to be fatal. Being overweight is also linked with a worse outlook in men who have been diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer.
Studies have found that men who get regular physical activity have a slightly lower risk of prostate cancer. Vigorous activity may have a greater effect, especially on the risk of advanced prostate cancer.
Several studies suggest that diets high in certain vegetables (including tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables, soy, beans, and other legumes) or fish may be linked with a lower risk of prostate cancer, especially more advanced cancers. Examples of cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.
Studies so far have not found a benefit from taking supplements containing antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamin E or selenium. In fact, a recent large study found that vitamin E supplements might actually raise prostate cancer risk slightly.
Several studies have found that diets high in calcium may raise prostate cancer risk. Dairy foods may also increase risk.
For now, the best advice about diet and activity to possibly reduce the risk of prostate cancer is to:
- Eat at least 2½ cups of a wide variety of vegetables and fruits each day.
- Be physically active.
- Stay at a healthy weight.
The number of stomach cancer cases in most parts of the world is falling. While stomach cancer is fairly rare in the United States, the rate of cancers in the first part of the stomach (the cardia) has risen in recent years. This may be due at least in part to increases in gastric reflux, which has been linked to obesity.
Many studies have found that a high intake of fresh fruits and vegetables is linked with a lower risk of stomach cancer, while a high intake of salt, salt-preserved foods, and possibly processed meat, is linked with a higher risk.
At this time, the best advice to possibly reduce the risk of stomach cancer is to:
- Eat at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits daily.
- Reduce intake of processed meat, salt, and foods preserved with salt.
- Be physically active.
- Stay at a healthy weight.