#WorldCancerDay: Substance abuse can increase risk of cancer – WHO

Today is world cancer day. It is is an international day marked on February 4 to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.

The theme for World Cancer Day 2020 is “I Am and I Will,” to acknowledge that everyone has the capacity to act in the face of cancer.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), between 30% and 50% of cancer deaths can be prevented. Cancer is said to be one of the leading causes of death globally and accounted for 8.8 million deaths in 2015.

An estimated 116,000 new cases of cancer and 41,000 cancer-related deaths, the world body said were recorded in Nigeria in 2018 alone.

Research also states that 4 out of 10 cancer cases can be prevented by simply making certain modifications.

Researchers say one in three of all kinds of cancers is related to smoking. To cut your cancer risk, stop smoking.

Inhaling secondhand smoke can increase the risk of lung cancer, cancers of the larynx (voice box) and pharynx (upper throat).

“Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20-30%,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states.


Tobacco smoke contains hundreds of harmful chemicals, and about 70 of them are known to cause cancer. Once ingested, the toxic effects of tobacco smoke can potentially damage every organ system in the body, which explains the vast variety of cancers triggered by use of the substance.Because of this, there is no safe level of smoking, and there is no safe method of using tobacco products.

While both tobacco and alcohol individually raise cancer risk, smoking and drinking in combination heightens the risk exponentially.


Science has linked regular alcohol consumption to at least seven types of cancer – throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), oesophagus (food pipe), breast, liver, bowel, pancreatic and mouth cancer.

You can prevent cancer by limiting how much alcohol you drink or cut it out completely.


Though marijuana is commonly seen as safe and is increasingly legalized, it may be a factor in the development of certain cancers. There have been reports of increased incidents of cancers of the lungs, head, neck, and respiratory tract as a result of carcinogens and toxins.

Marijuana use also increases the risk of testicular cancer, especially in younger people. The evidence shows that males who smoke marijuana during adolescence have greater chances of developing a specific type of testicular cancer called non-seminomatous germ cell tumor.


Anabolic steroids are a class of substances with androgenic, or testosterone-like effects, frequently used by those seeking to increase their muscle mass or improve performance in a physical activity or sport. Steroids also are linked to a number of unwanted effects including cancer.

Injection Drug Use

Most substances of abuse can be ingested in a variety of ways. Smoking, snorting, and swallowing all carry their own set of risks. One method of delivery that causes increased risk is injection.

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are regularly transferred through sharing needles 14. This practice can spread disease by increasing the person’s contact with blood of infected individuals.

Without treatment, hepatitis can progress to cirrhosis and a particular form of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

In the midst of all these, Cancer is not a life-sentence. Most people are scared of going for screening because they are afraid of the results. They believe the next thing that is going to happen with cancer diagnosis is death, but that is not always the case.

Some lifestyles that needs to be adopted to prevent cancer includes abstaining from substance abuse maintaining a healthy diet and weight, suncreening, regular self-exams and screenings for various types of cancers.

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