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Top Cancers in Bermuda – WHY WE EXPERIENCE THEM AND WHAT WE CAN DO TO PREVENT THEM

Referencing the Bermuda Tumour Registry in its 2019 report, the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre states that, in Bermuda, “300+ people are diagnosed with cancer every year, and (about) 80 die a year from cancer.” In addition, the report claims that “research shows that up to 50% of cancer cases and about 50% of cancer deaths are preventable with the knowledge we have today.”

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), based at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA is an independent centre dedicated to global population health research. One of the questions considered during IHME research is “What causes the most deaths?” 

In its 2019 studies, four different cancers were identified among the top ten causes of death in Bermuda. Fourth, fifth and sixth were lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer, respectively, while breast cancer ranked tenth. This begs two very important questions – “Why does cancer present such a high risk for deaths in Bermuda? What measures can we take to prevent these cancers?” 

What knowledge exists concerning the risk factors of cancer? The American Cancer Society reports that there are risk factors that can be controlled and those that cannot be controlled. “Tobacco use, contact with second-hand smoke, being in the sun, excess body weight, not being active, drinking alcohol, and not eating a healthy diet are risk factors that can be managed.” Less controllable are risk factors such as contracting certain viruses and contact with some kinds of radiation or chemicals. Noncontrollable factors include a person’s age and genetic damage. 

Information abounds concerning the controllable risk factors linked to the leading cancers that cause death in Bermuda and there is ample advice provided to minimize these risks. 

Tobacco Use / Contact with Second-hand Smoke 

The National Cancer Institute explains that both the direct use of tobacco and inhaling smoke second-hand can lead to cancer because “tobacco products and second-hand smoke have many chemicals that damage DNA.” 

It stands to reason that the best way to prevent cancers caused by tobacco is never to start smoking or be in environments where you are forced to inhale second-hand smoke. If you are already a smoker, it would be wise to take steps to stop smoking. First, be sure to see your personal physician for assistance with this quest. For more great tips, check out the Mayo Clinic at www.mayoclinic.org. and/or the Centers for Disease Control at www. cdc.gov. 

Excess Body Weight 

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) explains how excess body fat can cause cancer. It “raises a person’s level of the hormones insulin and insulin growth factor-1.” It increases the hormone estrogen which is a cause of breast cancer. Also, chronic, low-level inflammation, common in obese people is “linked to an increase cancer risk.” This isn’t an exhaustive list, so check out other reasons on Cancer. net. 

It’s important that the overweight or obese person make every effort to shed extra pounds. First, visit your personal physician, develop a plan with their assistance and be determined to stick to that plan. 

Not Being Active 

Again, according to the ASCO, “Studies over a long period of time have shown that people who exercise regularly have “a 40% to 50% lower risk of colon cancer.” Being active can keep hormone levels healthy, lower the risk of insulin resistance, move food through the digestive system more quickly and help maintain a healthy body weight. “Some studies show that the higher the activity level, the lower the cancer risk.” 

If you lack a regular exercise program, determine the type of exercise that you would be most likely to enjoy. Whatever you decide, start gradually and work towards maintaining a good level of regular activity. Be sure to consult with your personal physician if you have underlying conditions that may prevent you from engaging in certain exercise activities. Make a concerted effort to be less sedentary by watching less television and spending less time on electronic devices. 

Drinking Alcohol 

One study, conducted by Lancet Oncology, discovered that “At least 4% of the world’s newly diagnosed cases of esophageal, mouth, larynx, colon, rectum, liver, and breast cancers, in 2020, or 741,300 people, can be attributed to drinking alcohol.” 

While heavy drinking of alcohol contributes to more cancer, globally, even light to moderate drinking was responsible for “more than 100,000 cases of cancer in 2020.” 

“A recent study that included data from more than 1000 alcohol studies and data sources, as well as death and disability records from 195 countries and territories from 1990 to 2016, concluded that the optimal number of drinks to consume per day to minimize the overall risk to health is zero.” 

What more can I say? 

Not Eating a Healthy Diet 

What constitutes an unhealthy diet? Heathline’s author, Jillian Kubala, MD writes, “Highly processed products like soda, mass-produced baked goods, candy, sugary cereals, and certain boxed snack food contain little if any whole food ingredients. These items tend to pack ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and artificial sweeteners.” 

The World Cancer Research Fund, a leading cancer prevention charity based in England and Wales, adds, “Eating ‘fast foods’ . . . can make you gain weight, and there is strong evidence that being overweight or obese is a cause of 12 types of cancer.” 

So then, we need to eat to give our bodies the very best chance to ward off cancer. Heathline’s author, Jillian Kubala, MD shares, “Healthy eating” simply means prioritizing your wellness by fuelling your body with nutritious foods. The specifics may be different for each person depending on their location, financial situation, culture and society, and taste preferences.” 

There is a vast amount of information that identifies the healthy nutrient-rich foods necessary to fuel our bodies and to prevent disease. Consider enlisting the help of a registered dietician who will not only advise you about these foods, but also assist in developing meal plans designed just for you. 

In conclusion, the four leading cancers causing death in Bermuda can be overcome. Now that we know the causes of these cancers and the actions we can take to prevent them, hopefully enough of us will take heed so that the 50% of cancer cases and the 50% of needless deaths that are preventable, are indeed prevented. 

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is general knowledge in nature. Neither the Royal Gazette nor the author intend this article to be a substitute for medical diagnosis, counsel, or treatment by a qualified health professional. 

For more information on preventing cancerearly detection and Bermuda's cancer screening recommendations click on these links.

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