[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ost of the childhood cancers are linked to lifestyle like parental occupation, maternal reproductive history, parental tobacco or alcohol use, maternal diet, diet and lifestyle in children, etc. It is important to note that childhood cancers can be prevented to a great extent if a healthy lifestyle is followed.
Dr. B.C. Roy Awardee Dr. Anupam Sachdeva, Director, Pediatric Hematology Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation Institute For Child Health, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital shares some ways which parents should take to protect their kids from cancer:
Encourage children to eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables as these foods contain antioxidants and are also rich in vitamins and minerals. These help in protecting the body against damaging chemicals that get into the body.
Adequate physical activity
It is important that from the early learning years itself, children are taught the importance of getting adequate exercise. Moving the body helps in reducing cancer risk as sedentary lifestyle is one of the important causes of cancer. Engage them in easy to do everyday things that keep them on the go like taking stairs, taking your pet for a walk, outdoor games, swimming etc.
These days, it is a major health problem and a leading cause of cancer. Try to make them sit down for healthy family meals as often as possible, limit TV watching time to 2 hours daily or less daily. As mentioned above, engage your kids in physical activity and give them a proper diet. Restrict them from overindulging in junk food, fast food and sweets. Taking healthy breakfast daily is mandatory. It is also important for the mothers to breastfeed for at least 6 months.
Protection from UV rays
Children should not be exposed directly to the harmful UV rays of the sun.
Smoking and alcohol – Right from childhood, kids must be taught about the harmful effects of smoking and alcohol consumption so that they refrain from them once they grow up. Even if they take, they would be conscious enough to take it in moderate amounts.
Boost your child’s immunity
Give your child foods that are known to enhance immunity. Yoghurt, garlic, colored fruits and vegetables contain immune-fortifying elements. Exercising also helps in boosting immunity.
Cervical cancer vaccines
HPV vaccines are mainly meant for girls and boys aged 11 or 12. HPV vaccinations which come in two forms Cervarix and Gardasil – are given as a series of three shots over six months. Both Cervarix and Gardasil are approved for HPV prevention in women, but only Gardasil protects against cancers of the anus, vagina, and vulva and genital warts along with cervical cancer and is approved for men. Show your children the importance of getting screened for cancer by getting your own regular screenings.
Hepatitis B vaccination
It is another vaccination which prevents Hepatitis B infection which is one of the causes of liver cancer in adulthood.
Onus lies on parents to introduce preventive measures right from childhood in order to secure the lives of their children. It is their responsibility to help their kids adopt a healthy lifestyle from the very beginning to minimize the risks of cancer.