Lifestyle - The Culprit in Black and White

In my previous organization, I loved my Vertical Head (not quite literally!!). A decent guy who did well in his job; worked very hard and his career graph shot up in no time. He was always neck-deep in his work. The buzz in the office was that he drew a hefty pay package. We joked among us that just like his wallet, he too is growing fat - horizontally.
As the job and position demanded, he spent more time sitting in front of the computer and I hardly saw him moving around or taking any holidays. He had no time for exercise but late night parties with unhealthy food have been a routine; courtesy those frequent client dealings “off-office”. Poor guy, though he was in no bad habits as such but smoking and drinking became a social obligation.
Gradually as he started putting on weight (more around his belly), severe back ache was a constant bother and diabetes caught his way. Once I remember the office elevator was not working and he joined me in taking stairs to the office on second floor. He got really embarrassed as he started panting from the first level itself!
One day he blacked out on his seat. On being rushed to the nearest medical centre, he was declared brought dead. Doctors told his family that he has been suffering from high blood pressure and steep levels of cholesterol for a long time, which he himself never knew. A heart attack from nowhere was so grave that it did not give him any time to spend the moolah he made, drive his new car, or update his super boss for the next meeting’s agenda.
He just signed off.
And you know what, he was just 34!
Unfortunately, this case is not a rare one. Such incidents are being heard often around us. Today not war, not calamites but lifestyle is the biggest killer. And the irony of the matter is that lifestyle related illnesses like cancer, heart problems and diabetes are highly preventable by just altering little things here and there in our “way of living”.

Mend your ways before it gets too late to amend
These days heart attack, diabetes or cancers are not anymore an elderly’s visitors. A younger person with unhealthy lifestyle, poor eating habits and no exercise routine is equally vulnerable to fall prey to such debilitating illnesses.

It is prudent to start making small changes in the lifestyle with immediate effect, irrespective of one’s age. The trick is to do it unintentionally. Begin by taking stairs than lift (of’course we are not asking you to climb 12 floors in one go), park your car at the farthest possible spot from the entrance, swap butter to margarine and table sugar to artificial sweeteners, join a fast paced activity like aerobics, Zumba dancing, swimming or a running sport, order smaller portions in a meal like small fries, baby cup ice cream, or a mini pizza; do whatever possibly you can to cut down on sugar and fat in food and add on to your physical activity.
Age no more matters, a healthy lifestyle does!

Lavasa Women’s Drive

I Can Certainly Prevent It!!
Some time back, as an Indus representative, we attended the briefing session for Lavasa Women’s Drive, country’s biggest all-women's car rally supported by Women's Cancer Initiative, Tata memorial hospital, Mumbai, Times Group and Western India Automobile Association (WIAA). The drive aims at creating cancer prevention awareness among people in a fun way.

I reached at the venue little early as I was new to the area and location where the briefing was being held (well, ok! Actually and honestly I wanted to grab the first row).
Standing at the entrance of the still closed auditorium, I looked on as several well dressed and impeccably groomed ladies stated to pour in. Big cars, branded bags, expensive accessories... clearly the crowd were a mix of upper middle to affluent class. But this was no glossy kitty party, rather a very serious and sombre issue and to my surprise they actually looked totally driven towards the cause and excited about being a part of it. Good going today’s women of substance!
Once settled in the auditorium (I did get the first row), a whole bunch of dignitaries came and graced the stage. The briefing session was attended by veteran of the fraternity likes of Dr. Shona Nag, Consultant Oncologist at Sahyadri and Jehangir hospitals, Pune, Gynaecologist Dr. Suchita Pate of Oyster and Pearl Hospital, Pune and a Mumbai-based renowned (and extremely witty) Gynaecologist Dr. Mukesh Gupta. They talked and discussed in length the commonest of all causes for cancer among women and how simple preventive measures like screening tests once a year can go a long way in early detection and cure.
Dr. Nag said that breast cancer incidence in India is indeed becoming exceedingly common and it is not something that can be swept under the carpet by ignoring it. She emphasised that breast cancer, if detected in its early stages, can be CURED in 80% of cases.
On a lighter note she asked women to “keep abreast with their breast” by learning to do a breast self-exam after the age of 20. Another funny but extremely apt slogan she shared was, “If only women paid as much attention to their breast as men do” left the crowd cheering and shouting in hilarity.
Dr. Pate took on cervical cancer. She also emphasised on the fact that both cervical and breast cancer can be prevented through awareness, screening and vaccinations. Also, she advocated the use of vaccine that is present in the market for cervical cancer prevention. This can be taken from the age of 9 to 45 in dosage form of 0 – 2 – 6 months. “A yearly pap smear test to detect cervical cancer apart from preventive measures like limiting multiple unknown sexual partners is also very important" said Dr. Pate.
Dr. Gupta focused on the preventive strategies, including primary and secondary prevention. "Primary prevention includes taking vaccines to prevent cervical cancer and modifying one’s erratic lifestyle. Wherein secondary prevention includes breast self-examination, Pap smear test for cervical and mammography for the early detection of breast cancer," said Dr. Gupta.
In a crowd of almost 400 women, how long can they just sit back and listen? And hence they began talking by putting up questions before the panellists. Relevant and basic questions like what age can one opt for vaccines to prevent cervical cancer, symptoms of cervical and breast cancers, frequency of taking pap smears test and mammography, and if heredity is a major cause in developing breast cancer popped in from every corner of the hall.
The panel replied to their queries in depth which in a nut shell meant that the key to escape cancer is to lead a moderate lifestyle, avoid junk food, limit alcohol (may be once a week), stick to a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Eating lots of fresh, uncooked vegetables and fruits (chiefly red and orange coloured ones) will help in escaping the malady.
Later after the serious stuff, woman jived on zumba, a dance form full of energy and vigour. Ladies let their hair down and participated in it full on!!
While coming out I overheard several women to go and get a pap test and mammo done ASAP. This says loud and clear that the purpose of this whole exercise of creating cancer prevention awareness is definitely being met. Such events and efforts DO make a difference.
All and all, the evening was full of information yet fun. Women gathered around to have a chit-chat near the refreshment counter. I walked away to the parking area as chai counter got closed long back.

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