Reduce cancer risk with exercise, healthy diet, less smoking, alcohol: UAE doctors

World Cancer Day: Doctors and experts spread awareness on February 4 with urgent warnings to reduce disease risks.

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The risk of cancer can be reduced by eating well, exercising, and cutting down on smoking and alcohol consumption, doctors told Al Arabiya English ahead of World Cancer Day.

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“The problem [with the UAE in particular] is an unhealthy lifestyle… obesity is very high as well as smoking and a lack of physical activity,” Dr. Fadel Shabeeb, a surgeon at the Saudi German hospital in Dubai, told Al Arabiya English.

“To [help] avoid cancer people need to eat healthy food and exercise regularly.”

Cancer is the third-leading cause of death in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to a report published some three years ago by the Emirates Oncology Society and other UAE research bodies.

Although it is not proven that obesity or a poor lifestyle can lead to cancer, it is well known that poor diet, smoking and alcohol consumption can increase the risk of the disease. Seven out of ten adults are at risk of the disease in the UAE, according to the Global Obesity Observatory.

Around 25 percent of men in the emirates are also smokers, according to a report from the Oman Medical Journal released 18-months-ago.

“People have to be educated that they have to quit smoking,” Dr. Aydah al-Awadi at the Emirates Oncology Society told Al Arabiya English.

“Cancer in the UAE is a big burden,” she added, saying that people also need to maintain a healthy weight as well as cutting down on their alcohol intake to reduce the risk of the disease.

Early screening

Adhani believes that the treatment of the diseases is getting better thanks in part to early screening which can be vital to prevent and treat colon and cervical cancers, for instance.

There are now more than 30 cancer centers and clinics across the UAE, according to the report from the Emirates Oncology Society.

“Colon cancer in particular is generally asymptomatic – or can be in a lot of people so people don’t get checked until it’s too late,” said Fadel who specializes in treating colon cancer.

Meanwhile, gynecologist Pranjali Singh at International Modern hospital Dubai told Al Arabiya English that the key to treating cervical cancer is detecting it as early as possible.

“Cervical cancer is preventable and can be cured if diagnosed at an early stage and treated promptly,” Singh said.

Regular smear tests and gynecological examinations are recommended, Singh said, adding that with early detection “cervical cancer is completely treatable.”

The most common cause of cervical cancer is the HPV virus, usually spread through sexual intercourse. Vaccinations against the virus are the best way to prevent this.

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