Although all efforts have been made to keep the cancer situation under control in the Sultanate, it is still worrying because the number of cases is expected to double by 2025. The leading types of cancers recorded in the country are breast cancer, colorectal, thyroid and lung cancers. Dr Waheed al Kharousi, Chairman of Oman Cancer Association, said, “We don’t just look at new cases, but also at old cases and how they can be tackled at our hospitals, as well as socio-economic issues that will occur and are occurring now.” According to him, unless the society goes into advocacy awareness it is not only impossible to reduce the number of cases, but also difficult to “create a situation for a paradigm change”.
There are three objectives to be achieved: 1. All cancers should be diagnosed at Stage 1 because at this stage cancer can be treated and a person can live cancer-free. 2. Reduce the number of cancer cases, which are doubling in number at the moment. 3. Care for cancer survivors and patients.
Dr Al Kharousi says: “We want patients at Stage 1 to get immediate treatment. Population is increasing, so are the cancer cases.”
“We are working with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, Muscat Municipality and others to find ways prevent and control cancer,” he said.
Dwelling on the causes of the dreaded disease, he said sheesha can be more dangerous for young women compared with men. “What people do not realise is one puff of sheesha is equivalent to smoking 10 cigarettes,” says Dr Al Kharousi.
The combination of smoke and estrogen, besides being a cause of cancer, can also pose heart problems, he says.
Dr Al Kharousi says smoking after having food can result in a 40-per cent chance of getting cancer. “It is also the leading cause of lung cancer.”
While the growing number of cancer cases in the country has had people look for answers — genetics or other causes — it is time individuals looked at their lifestyles, say health experts.
“It is important to control your family from having food often from fast food restaurants. Obesity is a major concern because 20 per cent of diabetics have a chance of developing cancer,” said Dr Al Kharousi.
More emphasis has been laid on physical exercise because of this very factor. “Life is movement and movement is life,” he added.
Asyah al Bualy, a board member of Oman Cancer Association (OCA) and also a cancer survivor, explained how stress can be a cause of cancer. “Exercising, avoiding sugar and staying away from smoking are all significant, but to me remaining stress-free is very important.”
She said she was going through a major psychological stress, the result of which was cancer. “We should change our lifestyle. More than the external influences, our psychological state can cause cancer.”
Thirteen days after her surgery, Al Bualy resumed her exercises. She continues to exercise, but “I also practise positive thinking”.
OCA has a list of foods and fruits that need to be avoided. It will be released in March.
“For example, chances of developing cancer are more if you are in the habit of eating fruits after having meals. Have fruits before meals. We talk about genomes but we do not stress on these simple factors that can be detrimental.”
Do you know what fruits take longer to digest? Dr Al Kharousi said they are dates and bananas. “If you are having them before meals, make sure they are ripe.”
If you smoke a cigarette after your meal, chances of getting cancer are 40 per cent more, because smoking uses up the oxygen required for digesting food.
“Immediately after meals, do not drink water, especially cold water, as it will have an impact on the intestines. The food will stay longer and rot in the stomach,” Dr Al Kharousi added.