World Cancer Day is February 4th. Led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), World Cancer Day is intended to bring awareness to the global challenge that is cancer and shore up action from individuals and governments around the world. World Cancer Day is important to me, as I’m sure it is to you, as my life has been touched in intimate ways by cancer. In fact, I began to write this post on World Cancer Day (which was yesterday) and became too emotional.
Cancer is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges facing our world. In 2020, an estimated 1,806,590 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the United States and 606,520 people were estimated to die from the disease. The rare of incidence (the rate of new cases of cancer) is about 442 cases per 100,000 people in the United States. The rate of mortality, while lower, is no better – standing at our around 158 deaths per 100,000 people in the United States. There’s no questioning the pervasiveness of this disease.
According to UICC, here are some things we can do:
- As individuals we can take responsibility for our health, including getting vaccinated and reminding others to get vaccinated, maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, avoiding alcohol, tobacco and excessive/prolonged sun exposure
- Governments and policy leaders can implement vaccination programmes which prevent infections that cause cervical and liver cancer, regulate solariums and tanning salons, and ban the mining and export of asbestos
- Schools can be champions of healthy behaviours among children, staff, parents, families and the wider community by cultivating an environment that supports good nutrition and physical activity, as well as providing information on other cancer risk factors
- Workplaces and employers can implement measures in the workplace that will motivate and sustain healthy habits throughout a person’s everyday life and put in place policies to prevent occupational exposure to cancer-causing agents, such as asbestos and other workplace carcinogens, as well as fostering physical activity, healthy nutrition and creating smoke-free spaces.
- Cities and communities can take the lead in creating a quality urban environment that promotes and protects the health and wellbeing of its citizens.
If you want to learn more, please visit UICC at the link above. You can also check out the websites for the United States Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization whose websites are full of great information or prevention and actions you can take today.