As doctors, we do not know for sure what causes cancer as some people develop cancer without any associated risk factor(s) whatsoever. However, we know that certain risk factors increase your chances of developing certain certain cancers.

Colon cancer can be prevented by eating a lot of fibers eg cassava, garri, yams, bread etc. Colon cancer can develop when you don’t empty your bowel (poo) daily. Colon can occurs in people who eat lots of red meat. Low vitamin C is associated with stomach cancer. Helicobacter pylori bacteria can cause stomach cancer but can be eradicated easily if discovered early.

Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer — including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas. Even if you don’t use tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke might increase your risk of lung cancer.

Cervical cancer can be prevented by reducing the number of your sexual partners. It can also be prevented by administering vaccines to all girls and boys before they become sexually active.

Sexual promiscuity increases your chances of getting HIV infection which in turn leads to certain cancers like Kaposi sarcoma, anal, liver and lung cancers.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer and cancer of the anus, penis, throat, vulva and vagina. The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and boys aged between 11 and 12. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the use of vaccine Gardasil 9 for all males and for females aged from 9 to 45.

Eating large amounts of processed meat can slightly increase the risk of certain types of cancer.

Eating extra olive oil, fish and nuts decrease the risk of developing breast cancer.

Obesity of course increases the risk for cancers. So reduce your body mass index to normal values.

Eating lots of nkwobi/isi ewu/ugba made with potash have caused many stomach cancers.

Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are sexually transmitted viruses that can lead to liver cancer. Hepatitis B can be prevented with vaccination but not Hepatitis C.

If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation The risk of various types of cancer — including cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver — increases with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you have been drinking regularly.

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables reduces the chances of getting cancers in general.

Making sure that you take vitamin D3 supplements (if you live in countries with not enough sun exposure) significantly decrease your chances of getting various types of cancer.

If you are white or an albino, protect yourself from too much exposure to the sun to avoid skin cancers.

Sharing needles and toothbrushes with people who use intravenous drugs can lead to HIV, as well as hepatitis B and hepatitis C — which can increase the risk of liver cancer.

Lastly, go for regular medical check up. Cancers of the breast, skin, colon, and cervix if found on time, can be successfully treated or even cured.

Written by Dr Maduka C Ogwueleka MRCP (UK)

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