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Fight Cancer At Home

Parents must have healthy lifestyle to protect their children from cancer

ON one hand, several breakthroughs in treatment of different types of cancer have been achieved, and on the other, newer threats have emerged.  Dr Mohandas Mallath, an eminent oncologist has warned that a new carcinogen might soon afflict youth due to their sedentary lifestyle. Dr Mallath, who is a consultant at Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata says different types of cancers have risen more than two-fold during the last 27 years. Mortality due to cancer has increased from 7 percent in 1990 to 12 percent in 2017. The threat to younger generation is serious. According to him, the lifestyle of the youth could lead to a new type of cancer if no steps are taken to prevent its emergence. Cancers of breast, oral, cervix, lung and stomach are already top five cancers in the country. Breast and colon cancers are most common in Goa. Cancer has been found to develop among older people. However, if public healthcare, educational institutions and parents do not heed the warning, incidence of cancer among the youth might see a rise over the next three or four decades.

No one would disagree with Dr Mallath when he says that younger people have fallen into the dangerous mould of a sedentary life. Their day hardly sets apart any time for physical activity. Unlike in the past when children would walk short or long distances to school in villages or towns or travel between home and school on a bicycle, the younger people today enjoy the comfort of being dropped to the school in cars or on scooters by their parents. No student walks to school unless the school is a few yards away. Most schools do not provide opportunity for daily sports. Most of the schools do not have playgrounds where children can play games. To make it worse, parents take their children after school to attend coaching classes or art or music classes. The rest of time children are glued to mobile phones. In short, the young people do not participate in physical activities. Early incidence of diabetes and health issues flowing from obesity had already been known to be affecting younger people. Now they face the threat of incidence of cancer.

A study conducted in the US found that more people in the age group of 15-25 years were diagnosed to have cancer than during the first 15 years of life; the prevalence of cancer in the 15-25 years age group increased faster and survival rates were significantly lower. The health ministry of Goa ought to heed the warning and draw up a policy in collaboration with the education ministry and other ministries to make it compulsory for schools to schedule one hour of active physical games for children within their premises. The parents have a major responsibility too, if they want to give their children the best of health while they give them the best of education. The parents must train children to take healthy and regular diet. They should not let them live a sedentary life.

It is time that state sets up a cancer registry and a research facility to study and maintain a detailed record of cancer cases. Cancer cases have been broadly attributed to unhealthy lifestyle, addictions and higher life expectancy. Treatment of cancer is costly, both to the public exchequer as well as individuals and families. Prevention is therefore a better option for both the government and the people. With the younger generation running the risk of developing a newer strain of cancer the best way to fight the future challenge is to prevent occurrence of cancer among them by engaging the institutions and individuals alike. Development of treatment for a newer strain of cancer could take a long time, causing a high mortality during the period of research and trials. Cancer prevention begins at home. It is the parents who have to first manage their lifestyle in a healthy manner in order to avoid getting affected by any type of cancer. They have to take regular screenings which are now available for early detection of cancer of several types. Only such conscious and alert parents can be hoped to guide their children to a healthy lifestyle with healthy diet and physical activity. 

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