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April 15, 2014

Cancer : Improving understanding for better prevention

According to the latest research, one in three people will be affected by cancer at some point in their life. There’s no doubt about it, this is alarming. Why? Because we often think that cancer is incurable. Yet today, a significant number of people recover thanks to early screening and treatment.

What is cancer?

Our bodies are composed of millions of cells, grouped together to form tissues and organs. Governed by their respective genes, these cells follow an orderly process and when they do, we stay healthy.

Unfortunately, some of these cells may at times receive unclear instructions, causing them to multiply in an exaggerated, uncontrolled manner and then invade nearby tissues. Despite many efforts, the immune system is unable to stop the proliferation of these diseased cells. These join together and form a mass of tissue called a malignant tumour or spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or other system.

At times, the cancerous cells detach from their initial mass and travel to other parts of the body, developing new sites called metastases.

Symptoms of cancer

he manifestations of cancer vary significantly. It is therefore difficult to establish an exhaustive list of symptoms. There are certain signs, however, that should make you take notice and encourage you to go see a doctor. Here are a few.

  • Onset of a palpable mass anywhere in the body (for example, in thebreast or a testicle). Any growth you note is cause for concern.
  • Persistence of certain symptoms with no apparent cause, such as a cough, hoarseness, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea.
  • Rapid, unexplained weight loss.
  • A violent, persistent headache or extreme fatigue.
  • Blood in the urine, stool or sputum. Vaginal blood loss between periods or during menopause can also be a sign of cancer.
  • Change in the shape, colour and/or size of a mole or spot. Bleeding should also raise a red flag.

Causes of cancer

A majority of researchers agree that two-thirds of cancer cases are caused by lifestyle factors. Smoking and poor diet are, of course, singled out as culprits. As for genetic factors, they account for 5 to 15 percent of cases. Certain experts believe that pollution is one of the major causes of this disease.

List of risk factors

  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Exposure to carcinogenic chemicals (arsenic, benzene, asbestos, etc.) and/or radioactive substances
  • Prolonged sun exposure
  • A chronic infection
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress 

Cancer prevention

We now know that adopting a healthy lifestyle helps to reduce the risk of cancer. Here are a few suggestions to increase your chances of staying in good health.

  • Do not smoke.
  • Eat a balanced and varied diet. For example, choose recognized cancer-fighting foods (broccoli, berries, cabbage, cauliflower, citrus fruit, etc.); select products that are rich in essential fatty acids (omega); introduce soy and whole wheat into your diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Adequately protect your skin and eyes when you go in the sun.
  • Limit your exposure to carcinogenic substances.
  • Take care of your mental health.
  • Avoid these as much as possible:
    - Alcohol (beer, wine, etc.);
    - Barbecued foods;
    - Red meat;
    - Marinated, smoked, fried or processed foods;
    - Deli meats;
    - Bleached flour;
    - Ready-made meals;
    - Products containing hydrogenated fats (trans fat);
    - Refined sugar.

Pharmacy services

If you have questions about cancer and its treatment, talk to your doctor. He’s there to help you make sense of it all!


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The Website deals with health-related topics. The information presented has been validated by experts and is accurate at the time of posting. In no way does it replace the opinion of a health care professional. Uniprix Inc. and its affiliated pharmacists accept no liability whatsoever in connection with the information provided on this Website.