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Prevention, Detection, Care For Cancer (II)

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Minister of Health, Dr. Isaac Adewole

Minister of Health, Dr. Isaac Adewole

This is the concluding part of this article first published on the 10th of February, 2016

According to the latest
analysis released on World Cancer Day by Cancer Research, United Kingdom, cancer death rate has fallen by almost 10 per cent in the last 10 years. In 2013, 284 out of every 100,000 people in the UK died from cancer – around 162,000 people. A decade ago, this was 312 in every 100, 000. Similarly, the World Hepatitis Alliance said that 80% of liver cancer deaths can be prevented, saving hundreds of thousands of lives each year globally, and called for the establishment of comprehensive hepatitis strategies to help prevent the 800,000 liver cancer deaths each year.
While marking the World Cancer Day, The Hope Light Foundation launched the “Beacons of Hope” project to unite lighthouses throughout the world to work together in the fight against cancer, just as the Irish Cancer Society used the occasion of the celebration to call on the public to support its message: “We can shape policy change” by working with influencers to close the cancer gap.
The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), also called on Europe’s most influential cancer societies to urge governments to put an immediate ban on glyphosate, a chemical used as a herbicide. In a letter sent on World Cancer Day, HEAL’s President, Dr Peter van den Hazel, reminded leading national cancer groups that a ban on glyphosate represents a significant opportunity in cancer prevention.
In Nigeria, a litany of events have been held in different cities, including Port Harcourt, Lagos, Abuja, Enugu, Asaba, and elsewhere, to draw attention to the rampaging effects of cancer, and how, as a people, we can prevent its spread through early testing, detection, treatment and care. More events are still being organized to enhance public awareness on the disease.
At an event in Abuja, National Coordinator, Cancer Control Programme, Dr Ramatu Hassan, said that the Federal Government has concluded plans to upgrade the programme to National Agency for Control of Cancer. In addition, Chairman, National Committee on Cancer Control, Prof Francis Durosinmi-Etti, emphasized the need for more private-public partnership to boost access to cancer care across the country. Both also called for greater awareness amongst Nigerians of the urgency for concerted action to curb the menace of cancer in our national life by committing to early preventive care, testing, detection, treatment and support for survivors.
In Rivers State, Chief Medical Director, Hospitals Management Board, Dr Dorathy Oko called for synergy among all stakeholders to increase awareness, boost testing and detection, and encourage requisite treatment, further stressing that there was need to use knowledge to demystify cancer. She listed free cancer screening and testing centres in the state to include the Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital (BMSH) and University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH).
For the avoidance of doubt, it is important to note the link between lifestyle and cancer risk. According to WHO, four non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – cancers, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and diabetes – are responsible for 80% of all deaths from NCDs worldwide. This is despite the fact that there is a clear link between lifestyle and non-communicable diseases. Indeed, about a third of the most common cancers can be prevented through diet, maintaining a healthy weight and taking regular physical activity. Therefore, behaviour change is key to the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, particularly as the number of cancer cases are expected to rise globally over the next two decades.
However, there are 10 cancer prevention recommendations generally accepted by experts globally. There cover body fatness; physical activity; foods and drinks that promote weight gain; plant and animal foods; alcoholic drinks; preservation, processing, preparation; dietary supplements; breastfeeding; and cancer survivors.
The first is to be as lean as possible without becoming underweight. In fact, research shows that there is strong evidence that weight gain, overweight and obesity increases the risk of a number of cancers, including bowel, breast (postmenopause), prostate (advanced cancer), pancreatic, endometrial, kidney, liver, gallbladder, oesophageal (adenocarcinoma) and ovarian cancers. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight – through a balanced diet and regular physical activity – helps reduce the risk of developing cancer. Thus, ensure you are as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight. It is vital to ensure that your median adult body mass index (BMI) is between 21 and 23, depending on the normal range for different populations. Also ensure that body weight through childhood and adolescent growth projects towards the lower end of the normal BMI range at age 21. Maintain body weight within the normal range, and avoid weight gain and increases in waist circumference throughout adulthood.
The second is physical activity. Experts advise physical activity for, at least, 30 minutes every day. Be moderately physically active, equivalent to brisk walking, for at least, 30 minutes every day. As fitness improves, aim for 60 minutes or more of moderate, or for 30 minutes or more of vigorous, physical activity every day. Limit sedentary habits such as watching television.
The third is to avoid foods and drinks that promote weight gain. In fact, it is necessary to limit consumption of energy-dense foods, especially foods that are high in fats and/or have added sugars and/or low in fibre) and avoid sugary drinks. Ensure that the average energy density of diets are lowered towards 125kcal per 100g, just as you consume energy-dense foods sparingly, particularly “fast foods”, if at all.
The fourth is to eat more of plant foods, especially a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and pulses such as beans. Specifically, it is advised to eat, at least, five portions/servings (at least 400g or 14oz) of a variety of non-starchy vegetables and of fruits every day. Eat relatively unprocessed cereals (grains) and/or pulses (legumes) with every meal, and of course, limit refined starchy foods. However, those who consume starchy roots or tubers as staples should also ensure intake of sufficient non-starchy vegetables, fruits, and pulses (legumes).
While the fifth is to avoid animal foods, and if not possible, limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and also avoid processed meats, the sixth suggests drastic reduction in the intake of alcoholic drinks. In fact, if alcoholic drinks are to be consumed at all, limit consumption to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
It is also necessary to limit consumption of salt and avoid mouldy grains and cereals, by limiting intake of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium). Minimise exposure to aflatoxins from mouldy cereals (grains) or pulses (legumes). Particularly avoid salt-preserved, salted, or salty foods; preserve foods without using salt, and limit consumption of processed foods with added salt to ensure an intake of less than 6g (2.4g sodium) a day.
Furthermore, do not use dietary supplements to protect against cancer, but aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone. This is because dietary supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention. Also, breastfeeding is best strategy to prevent cancer. It is best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to 6 months, and then, add other liquids and foods as complementary thereafter. Reasons: Breastfeeding protects both mother and child from diseases, including cancer. Lastly, after treatment, cancer survivors should strictly follow the recommendations for cancer prevention, and ensure they receive nutritional care from an appropriately trained professional. If able to do so, and unless otherwise advised, aim to follow the recommendations for diet, healthy weight, and physical activity.
To achieve a cancer-free society, therefore, it is vital that we inspire and take action; make healthy lifestyle choices; prevent cancer; understand that early detection saves lives; challenge perceptions; and ask for support. Besides, we must create healthy environments; support others to overcome; help improve access to cancer care; take control of our individual cancer journey; help build a quality cancer workforce; pursue love, and be loved; and mobilise our networks to drive progress. We also have to have confidence in ourselves; work assiduously to shape policy change; return to work when we are fit; make the case for investing in cancer control; share our story; work together for increased impact; and speak out against those things that promote cancer epidemic.
Let’s go for counselling, and follow up with testing. That will enable detection, treatment and care that we desperately desire.
Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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NPC Wants Increased Support For Women, Girls’ Bodily Autonomy

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The Executive Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Alhaji Isa Kwarra, has called for increased support for women and girls’ bodily autonomy.
Kwarra made the call at a news conference on the State of the World Population (SWOP) with the theme “My body is my own: Claiming the Right to Autonomy and Self Determination” in Abuja, last Monday.
The NPC chairman emphasised the need for women and girls to make choices about their bodies, including when to marry.
He said “denying women and girls right of bodily autonomy translates to denying them rights to choices that shape their existence.
“Women and girls should have right to decide when to start having children, how to space the births of the children, decide on the number of children they wish to have.”
Kwarra, who described women’s equitable access to healthcare services without fear or violence as inalienable rights of women, condemned coercion or the practice of having someone else to decide for them.
He frowned at the practice of allowing women and girls face constraints in exercising their rights from birth to opportunities of taking decisions that should shape their lives and future.
He emphasised the importance of education for women and girls, noting that investing in girls’ education was the most effective way of generating significant economic return and progress of nations.
He reiterated the need for upholding bodily autonomy for women and girls to enhance Nigeria’s prospects to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Population, Mr Lawal Idris, commended the National Population Commission (NPC) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) for timely launch of SWOP.
Idris promised to continue to work in synergy with both the population commission and the UNFPA toward giving women and girls access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHS) essential for attaining Demographic Dividends (DD).
According to him, girl child education is paramount in the development of the country.
The Executive Director, Education as Vaccine (EVA), Ms Buky Williams, stressed the need for women and girls to access education, noting that the measure would assist in ending child marriage and its consequences.
Williams regretted that child marriage and women’s denial of access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights was responsible for high maternal mortality.

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80% Of People Use Herbal Medicine – Expert

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that about 80% of the world’s population use some form of herbal medicine.
Prof Stephen Offor , made this revelation while delivering his inaugural lecture recently, at the auditorium of the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education in Rivers State.
According to him, research has proved that over 120 most commonly prescribed modern drugs, and one-fourth of all conventional pharmaceuticals, use at least one active ingredient derived from plants.
His lecture titled ‘The Grader of Plants, Our Life and Our Environment”, also disclosed that 25 percent of global prescription drugs are directly derived from plants.
Prof Offor stated further that plants produce a diverse range of bioactive molecules and secondary metabolites which are very rich resources of different types of medicine.
He noted that roughly 50,000 species of higher plants have been used medicinally, thereby affirming the global increase in the use of medicinal plants.
He explained that plants like turmeric, ginger, garlic, bitter leaf, and guava leaf are good botanical detoxitiers, immine boosters, and natural antioxidants.
He also posited that natural plant-based food preservations are generally cheaper, biologically and environmentally safer when compared to chemical preservatives.
Describing the plant as good source of renewable bio-duel like bioethanol and biodiesel, he noted that they do not emit harmful gases and are less expensive.
He noted that if such energy resources are optimally maximized, they could be used for cooking, boiling water, and heating homes and work places.
While attributing the dramatic rise in green-house gases, drought, and global warming to increased deforestation and fossil fuel combustion, he hinted that 707 out of 4,600 plant species are endangened due to environmental degradation and climate change.
Prof Offor further explained that trees and other vegetation directly remove many gaseons and particulate pollutants from the air, reduces greenhouse effect, and serve as erosion and flood control, while also improving air and water quality.
He added that a single large tree could transpire up to 100 gallons of water a day, thereby producing a cooling effect similar to five average air conditioners running for twenty hours.
Another way plants could be useful to man is in eco-remediation, a process that involves the use of locally adapted plant species to clean-up heavy metals and petroleum hydrocarbons from contaminated soil and ground water.
In his submission, he called for the establishment of functional plant research centres in all the states of the federation, plant conservation, and proper environmental education.
He also made case for establishment of a herbarium and botanical garden in the university, while also urging got to find conservation programmed.
Meanwhile, the Vice Chancellor, Prof Ojo-Mekuri Ndimele, in his remarks, said the lecture was a validation that plant conservation would enhance quality life for human kind.
The VC noted that research is the foundation of academics, adding that his administration is building a standard centre for research and development as he extolled the inaugural lecturer for his competence.

By: Sogbeba Dokubo

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Health Benefits Of Eating Apples

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Apples are quite expensive in the African Clime. Except
in South Africa where its grown commercially, in other parts apple come in varieties.
 Naturally apple is one of natures richest fruits in terms of nutrient and usage. Its best consumed raw so one can enjoy the huge antioxidants and other flavonoids that helps build the body. Below are its many uses:

  1. Tackles High blood Pressure:
    Savor a juicy apple and you may help keep your ticker healthy in the process. “Studies have linked apple consumption with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, which may be related to the cholesterol-lowering benefits of the soluble fiber found in apples,” say researchers.
    Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gellike material, according to the Mayo Clinic. According to the University of Illinois, soluble fiber helps prevent cholesterol buildup in the lining of blood vessel walls, therefore lowering the incidence of atherosclerosis (restricted blood flow in the arteries due to plaque buildup) and heart disease. It can also help lower blood pressure levels. A study found that a higher intake of soluble fiber was associated with a decreased cardiovascular disease risk.
    Research shows that eating apples (or pears) regularly was associated with a 52 percent lower stroke risk.  Furthermore, a study published in February 2020 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating two apples a day helped study participants lower both their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
     Eating Foods With Fiber, Including Apples, Can Aid Digestion
    You’ve likely heard that fiber is good for digestion — and what you’ve heard is true! According to Harvard Health Publishing, both types of fiber (soluble and insoluble, which means it can’t be absorbed in water) are important for digestion. And you’re in luck — apples have both types, according to the University of Illinois.
    Soluble fiber helps slow down digestion, allowing you to feel full, and also slows the digestion of glucose, which helps control your blood sugar. Meanwhile, insoluble fiber can help move food through your system and aid with constipation and regularity, per Harvard.
    Just be sure to eat the apple skin, which contains much of the apple’s insoluble fiber, according to the University of Illinois in the USA.
    Apples Can Support a Healthy Immune System
    Who doesn’t want a stronger immune system going into autumn? Apples might be an important tool in your immune-supporting tool kit.
    According to research in animals, a diet filled with soluble fiber helped convert immune cells that were pro-inflammatory into anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting ones. Another animal study, published in May 2018 in the journal Immunity, found that a diet high in dietary fiber protected mice against the flu. Whether those effects would be seen in humans is unclear until there are more studies.
    Still, there’s reason to believe that apples may bolster immunity, in part because they contain immune-boosting vitamin C. A review published in November 2017 in the journal Nutrients found that vitamin C plays many roles in helping the immune system function, such as by strengthening the epithelial (a type of tissue) barrier against pathogens and guarding against environmental oxidative stress, such as pollution to radiation, according to research.
    It’s Diabetic-Friendly Fruit
    If you have type 2 diabetes, consider adding apples to your diet. Sure, they’re a fruit, but it’s a common misconception that people with diabetes can’t eat fruit.
    In this case, apples’ soluble fiber can help slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and may improve blood sugar levels, the Mayo Clinic notes. Plus, per Mayo, a healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber can lower your odds of developing type 2 diabetes in the first place.
    Furthermore, a study of people with type 2 diabetes published in August 2016 in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine found that regularly consuming soluble fiber helped reduce insulin resistance and improved blood sugar and triglyceride levels.
  2. The Antioxidants in Apples May Play a Role in Cancer Prevention
    While there’s no one surefire way to prevent cancer, apples could help play a role. “Apples may reduce the risk of certain cancers, which researchers speculate is related to the antioxidants found in apples,” says Anzlovar. Research suggests that apples have a very high level of antioxidants, and in laboratory studies, these antioxidants have been shown to limit cancer cell growth.
    A review published in October 2016 in Public Health Nutrition found that eating apples regularly is associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, including colorectal, oral cavity, esophageal, and breast cancers.
    The fiber in apples may provide cancer-preventing perks. A study published in March 2016 in the journal Pediatrics found that women who ate more high-fiber foods during adolescence and young adulthood (especially lots of fruits and vegetables) had a lower breast cancer risk later in life.
    And another study, published in January 2019 in the journal The Lancet, found that a diet high in dietary fiber could protect against colorectal cancer and breast cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

6. Apples Can Support Healthy Weight Loss
A diet rich in fruit (and vegetables) can help you maintain a healthy weight — or shed pounds — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Because apples are filled with dietary fiber, they are high on this list. “Fiber slows digestion and the rise of blood sugar, keeping you satiated and less likely to overeat,” says Levinson.
According to that study in The Lancet, people who ate the most fiber had a significantly lower body weight. Research shows that overweight women who ate three apples a day lost 1.22 kg (2.7 pounds) after 12 weeks.

At only 95 calories for a medium-sized apple, this fruit is one you’ll want to keep on hand when sweet cravings strike.

  1. Apples May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
    Time to start eating more apples and other flavonoid-rich foods like berries and tea. Research published in August 2020 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adults age 50 and older who included only a small amount of flavonoid-rich foods like berries, apples, and tea in their diet were a whopping 2 to 4 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and related types of dementia over 20 years compared with people who ate more flavonoid-rich foods.
    On top of that, a review published in January 2020 in the journal Biomolecules found that quercetin, a flavonoid found in apples, protects neurons from oxidative damage and contains other anti-Alzheimer’s disease properties, too.

By Kevin Nengia

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