Today, February 4, health organizations around the world mark the World Cancer Day, aiming to raise awareness of cancer and encourage its prevention and treatment. This year’s theme is dispelling the myths and shedding light on unpopular issues.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide with 7.6 million deaths, or 13% of all deaths in 2008. It means it accounts for more global deaths than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined, which definitely categorizes it as a global epidemic. It affects all ages and all socio-economic groups, and even though until recently it was considered a disease of the wealthy, cancer is now an in increasing public health problem in poorer countries. At the same time, people are generally unaware of many of the facts about cancer. The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), an international health organization, and its activists and supporters will try today to break up cancer stereotypes and help population understand what is, and what is not, this frightening disease. Here are their 4 myths about cancer:
Cancer is just a health issue
Actually, the truth is that cancer affects both the individual and the society in a wide range of aspects – social, economic, human rights issues. According to the UICC, the disease affects poor families by preventing one member to work and earn money, which means families get poorer, and their access to healthcare, information and prevention get poorer, too. Women are at greater risk of death by cancer than men – cervical and breast cancer account for over 750,000 deaths per year.
Cancer is a disease of the wealthy, elderly and developed countries
More than 55% of all cancer deaths in 2008 occurred in less developed regions in the world, and approximately 50% of cancer in developing countries occurs in men and women less than 65 years of age. Age can no longer be considered a risk factor.
Cancer is a death sentence
Many cancers that were considered a death sentence 15 years ago, can now be successfully cured, and many others can be slowed down, controlled ant treated very effectively. The key is early detection and treatment. That’s why information sometimes equals salvation. There are 12 million Americans in the United States who live with cancer, so in many cases, the disease can be stopped and controlled.
Cancer is my fate
Improving the diet, more physical activity and maintaining a normal, healthy body weight, can prevent one third of the most common cancers in the world. Scientists estimated that tobacco is about to kill 1 billion people in the 21st century, so quitting smoking is one of the best strategies, together with coping with cancer-causing infections such as hepatitis B virus (HBV), the human papillomavirus (HPV), and the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).
UICC says that if urgent actions are taken to raise awareness about cancer, an estimated 1.5 million lives could be saved worldwide, or 6 million premature lives could be saved by 2025.