Thursday, June 08, 2023 | Dhu al-Qaadah 18, 1444 H
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Make healthy choices


At a time when alarming reports are coming from international health institutions regarding the rise in cancer cases, some lifestyle tips may be hugely helpful for all to raise health parameters and avoid being sick even with serious diseases like cancer.

In a recent report, the Swedish Institute for Health Economics (IHE) has warned that the cancer cases in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region could almost double between 2020 and 2040 and has asked for immediate action to address the rising trend.

“The number of newly diagnosed cancer cases has been increasing in all MEA countries, partly related to demographic changes and unfavourable trends in major risk factors such as smoking and obesity. It means that cancer is set to become the number two cause of disease burden in the MEA countries. Cancer was the third-leading cause of death in the nine countries in the study in 2000 and had become the second-leading cause of death behind cardiovascular diseases in six of the nine in 2016,” the report quoted Thomas Hofmarcher, Health Economist at IHE.

It is important to note that the diseases which were mainly genetic and age related some 20 to 30 years ago are rapidly coming into the category of lifestyle diseases due to rise in people’s quality of living and proportionately very less physical activity.

“Earlier the cases of obesity would come mainly from an obese history family. Similar were the cases with hypertension (high BP), insomnia, asthma, heart attacks, diabetes, depression and even cancer in some cases. But today most of these cases are being reported in which patients’ lifestyle is directly involved,” said a senior health expert.

Along with the above mentioned diseases there are some which are attributed only to lifestyle. They are stress related conditions like anxiety, alcoholism and even drug abuse. Dr Mariam al Waili, an expert in nutritional medicine, made these observations while commenting on importance of health awareness among people and expressed surprise over the fact that even educated people who knew the importance of doing some physical activity on daily basis, abstained from doing so until some issues cropped up to them.

“Not doing any activity, smoking and not eating fruits and vegetables are certain lifestyle choices that are making people sick. These are certain individual choices that can make us healthy or unhealthy.”

Reason for all serious diseases, according to her, is ignorance and deliberate negligence towards good health habits. Dr Maryam said lack of exercise and overeating were two most important factors for developing most of the lifestyle diseases.

The IHE report made an observation about young age people and said, “The region’s youthful demographic could be a ‘silver lining’ in attempts to combat the disease. The report’s authors suggest that harnessing the potential inherent in a younger population is the key to reducing the disease burden of cancer on individuals, families and communities, as well as minimising its financial burden on national economies.”

Apart from inculcating healthy lifestyle habits among all, the report suggested proper care “with the investment yielding health returns that reinforce the economy — a situation that results in a positive feedback loop of a healthier society and a healthier economy.”


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