Understanding What Causes Cancer and Reducing Your Risk

Understanding What Causes Cancer and Reducing Your Risk

Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide. According to the Singapore Cancer Registry Annual Report 2019, 16 people die from cancer every day in Singapore. From 2015 to 2019, 43 people were diagnosed with cancer everyday. For men in Singapore, colon-rectum cancer was the most common cancer, followed by prostate cancer, and lung cancer. For women, it’s breast cancer, followed by colorectal & rectum cancer, and lung cancer.

Being given the news that you or a loved one are diagnosed with cancer can exert a significant amount of emotional and financial strain on individuals. What is cancer? How does it affect us? In this article, we provide insight into cancer, and how we can reduce the risk of cancer by changing our lifestyle. 

What causes cancer? 

Cancer is caused by mutations in genes that control cell growth. These mutations occur naturally during life, but certain environmental factors can accelerate the process. Some of these factors include smoking, radiation exposure, viruses, chemicals, and obesity. Other risk factors include having a family history of cancer, genetics, and lifestyle choices like drinking alcohol and eating processed foods. 

Deaths due to cancer are caused by complications of the disease itself, including metastasis (when cancer spreads), recurrence (when cancer returns after treatment), and side effects of treatment. Most deaths due to cancer happen within five years of diagnosis. Leading a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce the risk of cancer, we provide some tips here of how you can start:

How can we prevent cancer?

1. Avoid smoking 

Smoking cigarettes is known to cause many different kinds of cancers, including mouth, throat, oesophagus, larynx, stomach, pancreas, bladder, kidney, liver, cervix, endometrium, ovaries, prostate, testes, thyroid gland, and leukaemia. The good news is that quitting smoking doesn’t mean giving up on life. There are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself without lighting up. Quit smoking support groups can be a great resource for learning how to kick the habit. They offer advice and encouragement and often include free nicotine patches and gum. Check with your doctor to see if any programs exist near you.

2. Eat healthy 

While many factors contribute to the development of cancer, poor eating habits are believed to play a role in a significant number of all cases. Eating too much processed foods and refined sugar can lead to inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation can cause cells to mutate and become cancerous. 

The best way to prevent cancer is to eat a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low fat dairy products. Specific superfoods such as broccoli, blueberries, goji berries, and garlic may reduce the risk of getting certain cancers. Not only are they low in calories, but they’re also full of phytochemicals and antioxidants. Foods high in vitamins A and C, folate, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and copper may reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. 

3. Exercise regularly

Singapore Physical Activity Guidelines (SPAG) – developed by health experts and representatives from Sports Singapore (SportSG) and  theHealth Promotion Board (HPB) – recommend that Singaporeans increase participation in physical activities and reduce sedentary behaviour. Engaging in moderate-instenisy physical activity for at least 150 to 300 minutes per week is advised for adults. Moderate physical activity includes brisk walking, swimming, biking, dancing, hiking, jogging and playing sports. 

Walking is a great form of exercise because it doesn’t require any special equipment; it burns calories, strengthens muscles, improves cardiovascular health, and relieves stress. Try incorporating more walking into your daily life and make it a part of your lifestyle. Consider walking if you usually take a bus from the train station home. Take the stairs instead of the escalator at the MRT station. Walk to get lunch instead of ordering delivery. 

Get protected with critical illness insurance

In the event you’re diagnosed with cancer, having the right insurance plan can be a lifesaver. Critical illness insurance (CI) offers financial protection when battling cancer, and supports you throughout your recovery stage. The disease weakens your immune system, making it extremely hard to continue working. The lump sum payout of CI plans covers this loss of income and the expenses for treatment, hospitalisation and rehabilitation. A CI plan is different from term life insurance, medical insurance and hospital & surgical insurance. There are several types of CI insurance plans, including late-stage or early-stage CI plans, single-pay or multi-pay CI plans. 

Guard against cancer with Expat Insurance

Expat Insurance offers several CI plans that fit your unique needs. When selecting a CI plan, consider the coverage offered, the cost of monthly premiums and your budget. Our insurance advisors will provide you with advice on how you can best protect yourself and your loved ones.

Authored By Jozemarie Sison

Head of Private Client Insurance

Amassing 8 years of industry experience in Switzerland and 5 years in Singapore, JM has spent more than 13 years of his career in the…


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