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How Cancer Can Be Prevented

by Ryan Parsons on February 18, 2014

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Across the world,cancer is responsible for 20-25% of deaths. (Nadakavukaren, 2011) There are numerous causes of cancer, many of which are behavioral. Therefore, how can we as a population prevent cancer? The answer is simple if you look at these harmful causes of cancer. However, in certain environments and cultures, preventative measures are difficult to take. Lung cancer, skin cancer and cervical cancer are just a few forms of cancer that can be reduced through preventative measures.

The leading cause of lung cancer is undoubtedly cigarette smoking. Lung cancer is perhaps the easiest cancer to prevent, which begs the question, why do people smoke? Science has shown that cigarette smoking has no medical benefits and has numerous medical disadvantages. Smokers have argued that smoking is relaxing, as well as addictive. Both are logical defenses to the extent that once someone starts smoking it is difficult to quit. Therefore, why start smoking? In terms of finding a way to relax, there are various other healthy methods of relaxing, such as exercising and reading. In terms of addiction, medicine has developed numerous ways to help quitting in the form of patches and gum. With that said the answer to preventing lung cancer is easy: do not smoke. The more difficult way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking if you have already started. Although addiction is considered a disease, today’s medical advances offer significant help in treatment of addiction.

Cervical cancer research has come a long way over the last few decades and is now preventable with a vaccines for human papillomavirus. The human papillomavirus converts normal, healthy cervical cells into harmful, cancerous cells. The problem with this preventative measure is the vaccine’s availability, across the world – in different countries and in various socioeconomic classes. American women in higher socioeconomic classes have a higher chance of receiving these vaccines than women living across the world in poverty. Men can also receive a vaccination for human papillomavirus and the same availability disadvantages apply to them. Therefore, the preventable nature of cervical cancer is somewhat affected by the lack of availability to some of the population. Even though some women have access to these vaccines, it does not mean those women are getting vaccinated. Medical professionals see this frequently with the influenza vaccination. The flu could be eradicated if everyone got vaccinated and if these vaccines were made more accessible and affordable. However, for personal reasons, people choose not to get vaccinated.

The sun is a tremendous asset to our planet; however, it is also an enemy to our skin in some ways. The harmful UV rays of the sun cause melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. However, skin cancer is, without a doubt, preventable. Sunscreen, the most obvious intervention, prevents skin cancer when used correctly, by blocking these rays. Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, and a practicing oncologist, gives other suggestions to prevent skin cancer as well such as wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and wide brimmed hats. (Brawley, 2014) The only issue with wearing long sleeve shirts and pants is the discomfort in the summer heat. Therefore, sunscreen is a must in the summer heat and is an easy way to prevent skin cancer.

With the vast amount of credible research on preventing cancer, it is difficult to see why some people do not take necessary precautions to prevent cancer. By taking these preventative measures, we can lower the percentage of deaths from cancer as well as save lives by avoiding cancer altogether.





Brawley, O. (February 4, 2014). Most cancers in our world pandemic are preventable—here’s how.                          CNN Health.


Nadakavukaren, A. (2011). Our global environment: A health perspective. Long Grove, IL: Waveland        Press.

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