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How modern lifestyles cause cancer
How modern lifestyles cause cancer

The benefits of civilization have turned against us. But everyone is able to reduce risks if they take care of their health in time.

How modern lifestyles cause cancer
How modern lifestyles cause cancer

In developed countries with a high standard of living, 1.8% are more likely to get cancer. In terms of the number of patients with melanoma, kidney cancer and Hodgkin's lymphoma, these countries outnumber developing countries by three times. The Western world leads in the incidence of prostate, rectal and breast cancers.

Cancer diseases. Breast cancer cases per 100,000 population
Cancer diseases. Breast cancer cases per 100,000 population

In countries with a low standard of living, 25% of malignant tumors are caused by infections: human papillomavirus, Epstein-Barr virus, herpes simplex type 8 and others. With the development of medicine, there are ways to defeat infections. Despite this, the incidence of cancer is growing rapidly.

Poor ecology and unhealthy lifestyles are replacing viruses. Below we will analyze what factors lead to the disease.

What influences the occurrence of cancer

Lack of physical activity

Globally, 31% of adults do not move enough. Moreover, in countries with a high standard of living, physical activity is lower than in less developed and prosperous ones.

Cancer diseases. Percentage of physically inactive men 15 and older
Cancer diseases. Percentage of physically inactive men 15 and older
Cancer diseases. Percentage of physically inactive women 15 and over
Cancer diseases. Percentage of physically inactive women 15 and over

Physical activity reduces the risk of breast cancer by 25% and rectal cancer by 40-50%.

Scientists still don't know why physical activity protects against cancer. It is assumed that:

  1. Activity affects the production of sex and metabolic hormones and growth factors. The risk of breast cancer is reduced by lowering estrogen production.
  2. Physical activity improves intestinal motility, food does not stay there for a long time. And it lowers the risk of inflammation and cancer.
  3. Lack of movement decreases insulin sensitivity. This creates a favorable environment for tumor growth.
  4. Physical activity increases nonspecific immunity - the absorption of living and non-living particles by phagocytes. This helps to destroy cancer cells.
  5. Being active can help you lose and maintain weight.

Many doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity five or more days a week.

Obesity and overweight

In 2017, 774 million people worldwide were obese. Most of them are in developed countries: in the USA (33%), Saudi Arabia (34.7%), Canada (28%), Australia (28.6%), Great Britain (28.1%).

Obese people are more likely to develop cancers of the digestive tract, thyroid, kidney, liver, and gallbladder. Fat women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast and uterine cancer.

Again, scientists don't know why excess fat leads to cancer. But they put forward three probable reasons:

  1. The hormonal background is changing. Fat releases hormones (insulin and other growth factors) that cause cells to divide more often. This can change them and lead to cancer.
  2. The inflammation is growing. As fat cells grow, so does the number of immune cells. Immune cells produce cytokines, substances that lead to inflammation. This causes cells to divide more often and increases the risk of cancer.
  3. Sex hormones. Fat cells release estrogens, the female sex hormones. Increased estrogen after menopause can negatively affect the cells of the breast and uterus: cause cells to divide more often, provoke mutations and cancer.

To find out if you are overweight, calculate your body mass index (BMI).

Body Mass Index (BMI) calculation

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The longer you are overweight, the greater your risk of cancer. Lose those extra pounds as soon as possible: move on, move more and.

Excessive consumption of fried and salty foods

Fast food, salty snacks, pickled foods, and fried meats contain carcinogens and increase the risk of cancer.

Continuous consumption of salty foods increases the risk of stomach cancer by 1.78 times, colon cancer by 1.53 times, and rectal cancer by 1.74 times. Smoked and pickled foods, baked fish and meat, and stews also increase the risk.

The higher the temperature at which the meat is processed, the more harmful it becomes. When meat is fried at 100 ° C, few harmful substances are produced. But when the temperature goes over 150 ° C, the number of carcinogens increases.

There are also healthy foods that can help protect against cancer. Reduce the risk of yellow and green vegetables, fruits (especially citrus fruits), soy tofu, sesame oil.

Therefore it is worth:

  1. Avoid heat treatment of meat above 100–150 ° C. Boil it, steam it, fry it in a low heat pan.
  2. Remove pickled foods, salted fish from the diet. Salt food less.
  3. There are more green and yellow vegetables and fruits.
  4. Season salads with sesame oil.

Bad habits


Alcoholic beverages increase the risk of developing cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx. Alcohol consumption increases the risk of colorectal cancer, a malignancy in the colon. For women, drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing breast cancer. In addition, alcohol contributes to the development of cirrhosis, which increases the risk of liver cancer.

There are several theories as to why alcohol increases your risk of cancer:

  1. Some alcohol metabolites, such as acetaldehyde, can be carcinogenic.
  2. Alcohol increases the amount of prostaglandins, induces lipid peroxidation and promotes the production of free radicals.
  3. Alcohol increases the penetration of carcinogens into cells.

Smoking tobacco

Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. 80% of all cases of lung cancer in men and 50% in women are caused by this bad habit.

However, it is not only the lungs that can be affected by smoking. Scientists have linked tobacco smoking to 15 types of cancer. Including cancers of the esophagus, bladder, pancreas, and liver.

Cigarette smoke contains at least 80 known carcinogens. Including arsenic, cadmium, ammonia and formaldehyde. These substances cause cell mutation and death. In addition, active smoking reduces the amount of antioxidants: carotenes, cryptoxanthin and ascorbic acid, which protect the body from oxidative stress and cell destruction.

The body copes with the stress of smoking, but the longer you smoke, the harder it gets. Moreover, the duration of smoking is more important than the number of cigarettes per day.

Two cigarettes a day for ten years is more dangerous than a pack of cigarettes a day for five years.

Therefore, you should not quit gradually, reducing the number of cigarettes. Remember, the longer you smoke, the more you risk getting sick.


Constant stress and depression are the scourge of modern society. Rapid social changes, lack of time and stressful work environments increase the number of stress-related disorders.

Stress increases the risk of cancer and accelerates the course of the disease. Stress hormones (norepinephrine and adrenaline) stimulate cell migration and invasion so that cancer spreads faster throughout the body.

Also, stress greatly reduces immunity, and the body loses funds to fight damaged cells.


Nothing will protect you 100% from cancer. There are always factors that are difficult or impossible to eliminate. For example, genetic predisposition or environmental pollution. However, a lot still depends on us.

Only 5-10% of all cancers are inherited from their parents, and all the rest arise from the destruction of cells accumulated during life.

Here are the rules for preventing cancer:

  1. Add at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five or more days a week to your schedule.
  2. Keep your weight within your normal body mass index.
  3. Eat more vegetables and fruits. Reduce the amount of salt and salty foods. Cook meat and fish at temperatures no higher than 100–150 ° C.
  4. Give up tobacco and alcohol.
  5. Avoid stressful situations. Learn to deal with stress.