Educate kids to keep Big C at bay

Societies across the globe observed World Cancer Day yesterday, but without a proper system to educate people about preventive measures, the fervour may not yield positive results, writes KOI KYE LEE

WITH focus and emphasis on children, the World Cancer Day campaign this year is aptly themed “Cancer Can Be Prevented Too”.

Despite the growing number of people suffering from cancer, control measures and proper awareness programmes could actually prevent the disease.

“It is very important to instil awareness among children of cancer and preventive measures that can be taken to control the disease,” said National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) honorary adviser Datuk Zuraidah Atan at the launch of the World Cancer Day by Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre Esplanade yesterday.

She said the theme strove to teach children about the risks of cancer while the campaign, with focus on schoolchildren, was to instil good habits in them.

“The illness has become a social and economic issue in every nation and public awareness about cancer is vital to educate the younger generation about various cancer control measures.”
She noted that simple cancer control measures could include curbing tobacco use and alcohol consumption, reducing sun exposure, maintaining a healthy weight and having added protection against cancer.

Adding that the public should not be fearful of cancer, Zuraidah stressed being well equipped with knowledge on the illness alone would educate the children and youths, besides rectifying misconceptions about cancer.

“Cancer prevention lies within our youth and the better informed the youth are, the easier it is to highlight the need of cancer prevention in the community.”

Also present at the event was NCSM medical director Dr Saunthari Somasundaram.

Saunthari said experts estimated that approximately 40 per cent of cancers were potentially preventable by reducing the risk of developing cancers related to tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, excessive sun exposure and encouraging healthy diet with regular exercise.

Infectious agents are responsible for 22 per cent of cancer deaths in the developing world and six per cent in industrialised countries.

Viral hepatitis B and C cause cancer of the liver, human papillomavirus infection causes cervical cancer while bacterium helicobacter pylori increases the risk of stomach cancer.

“Besides medical interventions such as immunisation and treatment of infections, changes to lifestyle and behaviour can also reduce the exposure of risk factors.”

She also cautioned the public to start leading a healthy lifestyle.

by Koi Kye Lee.

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