Commemorating Cancer Awareness Week

03 August 2020 | Health

During the first week of August, the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) traditionally commemorates Cancer Awareness Week. This year, with Covid-19 creating many (unwanted and disliked) challenges, CAN won’t host any public days and campaigns, but focus (digitally and via the media) on the importance of the human immune system.

What is the immune system?
The immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins that defend the body against infection by attacking germs, protecting against harmful substances and fighting cell changes so that we can stay as healthy as possible. The main parts of the immune system are the white blood cells, antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system, the spleen, the thymus, and the bone marrow.
Five signs of a weak immune system are:
1) Frequent and recurrent colds, pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, meningitis or skin infections.
2) Chronic Inflammation and infection of internal organs.
3) Blood disorders such as low platelet counts or anaemia, wounds healing slowly.
4) Digestive problems such as cramping, loss of appetite, nausea and chronic diarrhoea.
5) Delayed growth and development.

Can I damage my immune system?
The five most common and unsuspecting ways we weaken our immune system without often knowing are:
1) Inactivity. Sitting around for long periods of time has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and early death. Regular exercise, movement and fresh air is highly recommended.
2) Overtraining. Exercising regularly is great for your overall health and your immune system, but overexerting the body places strain on your system and creates an imbalance that may become dangerous.
3) Poor stress management. Stress in terms of pressure to perform or execute tasks in lower, regular levels is normal. However, chronic stress, poor management thereof, lack of rest, relaxation and exercise turns tension highly toxic.
4) Excessive alcohol intake and tobacco use are both scientifically linked to various non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular, hypertension, obesity, cancer, diabetes and mental health issues, in addition to directly affect the immune system (tired, lethargic, easy to get colds and flu, etc.).
5) Sleep deprivation remains a problem globally as we move to an ever-speeding society of “more to do, less time to do it”. Your body (including immune system) needs rest and recuperate to rebuild cells and heal itself.

How can I boost my immune system?
• Do not smoke or use tobacco products.
• Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
• Eat a diet that is high in fibre, fruits and vegetables.
• Drink enough clean water (at least 6-8 large glasses a day).
• Exercise regularly.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Get adequate sleep and mental rest.
• Try to minimize stress.
• Take steps to avoid infections such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
• Prevent immune compromising diseases (HIV, HPV, HBV) by smarter lifestyle choices (safe sex), get vaccinated or stay on treatments if infected.

Who is most vulnerable?
Why do we see more diseases in older people? There’s an irony in living longer: The longer we live, the more likely we are to see our bodies decline and become weak. This is the part of nature taking its toll in humans too, as the immune system itself is not immune. This is known as immune senescence, which is the term to describe the tendency for an aging immune system to allow more infections, cancers and diseases to take hold and allow natural selection (survival of the fittest) to take place as, sadly, we are not naturally meant to live forever.
However, we can boost our immune systems as mentioned above, in addition to avoiding over exposure to sunlight (while vitamin D from sunlight does help support healthy immune function, too much UV radiation can alter your DNA, ultimately boosting your risk of cancer and for cold sores) and limit exposure to carcinogens. Also avoid man-made chemicals, including hydrocarbons, as much as possible.
Covid-19 brings along a whole new set of challenges to immune-compromised persons.
Exposure to new diseases allows our bodies to sometimes gradually build antibodies. In most instances, preventative immune booster vaccines do assist, but currently the best way to help us all from losing the battle against Covid-19 is to wash hands regularly, sanitize and remain immune-focused (social distancing to try avoid possible exposure and boosting the immune system to try fight the disease if our bodies naturally can).
The unfortunate reality is that persons with a vulnerable immune systems, including those with underlying medical conditions (cancer, heart, diabetes, HIV, etc.) and the older aged community, have weakened immune systems and need to be extra cautious.
This cancer awareness week let us become “immune smart” to become not only cancer, but also Covid-19 aware.

Similar News

 

US strengthens Namibian healthcare

3 days ago - 16 September 2020 | Health

The US government is supporting the ministry of health and social services through hiring 67 data clerks for the month of September. This is in...

Suicides remain high

5 days ago - 14 September 2020 | Health

Windhoek • [email protected] to 800 lives were snuffed out by suicide in Namibia over the 18 months. New statistics shared by the Namibian police with...

Soap for marginalised, rural communities

1 week ago - 11 September 2020 | Health

Palms for Life Fund (PFL) donated 250 000 bars of soap to aid in Namibia’s efforts to reduce the spread of Covid-19.The soap recently arrived...

UNICEF heads buying Covid vaccines

2 weeks ago - 04 September 2020 | Health

UNICEF is leading efforts to procure and supply Covid-19 vaccines in what could possibly be the world’s largest and fastest ever procurement and supply of...

Covid info hub launched

2 weeks ago - 04 September 2020 | Health

The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) launched a Covid-19 information hub aimed at generating and displaying timely, accurate population and infrastructure data that supports government’s response...

Remdesivir arrives for Covid patients

2 weeks ago - 02 September 2020 | Health

Health and social services minister Kalumbi Shangula said the health ministry would provide the antiviral medication Remdesivir to Covid-19 patients, after it arrived in Namibia...

More US support for Covid readiness

2 weeks ago - 01 September 2020 | Health

Through funding from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation, the Namibian ministry of health and social services’ (MoHSS) national healthcare training...

More testing centres for Khomas announced

3 weeks ago - 27 August 2020 | Health

In a bid to test more people suspected of having contracted Covid-19 and to make contact tracing easier, more testing centres have been identified in...

Support for cancer patients in need

3 weeks ago - 27 August 2020 | Health

“The effects of Covid-19 are now more tangible than could ever have been anticipated. Namibians are struggling financially and cancer patients are even more severely...

Covid hits informal settlements

3 weeks ago - 24 August 2020 | Health

Windhoek • [email protected] as the spread of Hepatitis-E cases shows signs of abating, residents of Windhoek’s informal settlements are facing a new and potentially more...

Latest News

Qatar also heading back to...

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | Transport

Come 15 October, Qatar Airways will be flying to Windhoek three times a week again.The announcement came earlier today, and follows the decision by Eurowings...

Sen Pang leads UN Namibia

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | People

Sen Pang, the newly appointed United Nations Resident Coordinator in Namibia, was received at State House, where he handed over his Letter of Credence and...

Informal market coming for Havana

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | Infrastructure

Windhoek mayor Fransina Kahungu said the city received a pledge of N$5 million from the ministry of industrialisation, trade and SME development to help build...

Eurowings makes a Namibian return

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | Transport

Eurowings will resume their Frankfurt-Windhoek route this weekend, with the first flight landing at the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) on Sunday.In a media statement,...

Another Air Namibia resignation

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | Business

The national airline’s chief financial officer Werner Schuckmann has tendered his resignation with effect 30 September 2020.The process to recruit a substantive chief financial officer...

Card fraud on the increase

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | Opinion

Windhoek • Riaan ViljoenDuring the lockdown, a whole new generation of users discovered the joys and convenience of online shopping.Worldwide, online debit or credit card...

Masking Namibia

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | Social Issues

Local social impact agency, Arba Stature, in partnership with Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) donated 2253 face masks to 25 schools through its #CoverNamibia campaign.Designed to...

GIPF says investments safe

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | Economics

The Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) said that it is aware of the de-registration of the Baobab Capital (Pty) Ltd (the fund manager) and Baobab...

International accolade for EIF

3 days ago - 16 September 2020 | Environment

The Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF) received a certificate of merit for outstanding Sustainable Project Financing at the Karlsruhe Sustainable Finance Awards, recognising its...

Load More