Understand your risks. Living in West Africa, it is often difficult to find information about what causes a higher risk for people and makes them more likely to get cancer. At Sweden Ghana Medical Centre, we keep track of cancer research, and believe it is important for people to learn more about their risks. Here is some information from research about factors that give you a higher risk of getting cancer:
- Being overweight. Being overweight has been convincingly linked to an increased risk of the following cancers: oesophageal, colorectal, breast in postmenopausal women, endometrial, and kidney.
- Eating maize or groundnuts infected with fungus. Aflatoxin is a poisonous compound that occurs in foods that have mould (especially maize/corn and groundnuts/peanuts). Over exposure to aflatoxin has been convincingly linked to increased risk of liver cancer, which is prevalent in West Africa.
- Eating salt-preserved foods. High consumption of salted fish has been convincingly linked to increased risk of nasopharyngeal cancer. A high intake of salt and/or salt-preserved foods may be linked with increased risk of stomach cancer.
- Consuming too many preserved meats. Preserved meat (such as bacon, ham, sausage) and red meat may be linked with increased risk of colorectal cancer.
Knowledge helps us fight cancer. Did you know that helping to make people more aware of cancer plays an important role in the fight against the disease? Cancer awareness helps us put a face on cancer – it lets us reveal more about the disease and what we can do to treat it. When people start talking about cancer, it reduces the stigma of the disease, and it increases support for those who are suffering from cancer. Cancer awareness also involves educating people about the disease. When people can understand the reality of a cancer diagnosis, it means they can begin to see the importance of prevention in reducing each person’s overall risk of getting cancer.
Get involved! Every year there are several events held around the world to raise awareness about different types of cancer. A different colour ribbon is used to show support for the fight against cancer. Globally, October is celebrated as breast cancer awareness month, and it has a pink ribbon. Cancer awareness campaigns provide a way for families to meet other families who are dealing with cancer. It is also a good way for people to donate time or money to organizations engaged in the fight against cancer.