Who are at risk of cancer, heart attack, and stroke?


Posted at Dec 20 2019 01:37 PM

Gone are the days when diseases like heart attack, stroke, or cancer are issues of the elderly. Today, even young people are at risk of having these due to their personal vices and unhealthy habits.

One day, they may just be out and about with their usual business. The next day, they may find themselves already faced with a life-threatening illness that may be caused by their smoking, alcohol drinking, unhealthy diet, and sleep deprivation—the four prevalent influencers of health. 


21-year-old Bruno from Las Piñas admitted that he has been dependent on smoking as his stress reliever. 

"I started smoking because of stress. I do not know about other people, but for me, [smoking] keeps me calm. I smoke whenever there is something bothering my mind until it [has become] like a ritual and I enjoy it especially at night," he said.

Dr. Anna Louise Anceno, MBA, said that smoking usually starts in people's teenage years when they think that it is a way to rebel against their parents or they think that it is cool to do so. Sometimes, it can also be due to peer pressure or curiosity when they see the people close to them smoke, while others do it to relieve stress or boredom. 

Smoking, according to Dr. Anceno, can cause a number of diseases like cancer, heart diseases, stroke, lung complications such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes. For some, it can cause impotence and miscarriages.

It also does not just affect the smokers themselves but the people around them or those in close proximity such as in the household or workplace.

Lack of sleep

Meanwhile, Gem experiences sleep deprivation because of the many things that run in her head. 

"I sleep at around 2:00 am or 3:00 am, and wake up at 7:00 am or 8:00 am. My body got used to it but sometimes I get sleepy in the afternoon. Napapansin ko rin na medyo maputla ako kapag sobra akong walang tulog [and] walking to work is the only exercise I do," she said. 

Although the reasons why some people do not get enough sleep may vary, this kind of lifestyle can result in many chronic diseases and conditions like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and even depression.

Physician Sonny Villanueva said that sleep deprivation can also increase the risk of blood pressure. 

Alcohol abuse

On the other hand, alcohol drinking can cause short-term health risks such as injuries, violence, alcohol poisoning, risky sexual behaviors, and miscarriage among pregnant women.

Dr. Villanueva said that alcohol drinking affects the immune system and may result in liver problems such as cirrhosis that causes the scarring of the liver. 

Drinking more than three bottles or glasses of alcoholic drinks a day is also proven by various studies to have harmful effects to the heart. Its long-term health risks include stroke, cancers, mental health problems, and alcohol dependence or alcoholism. 

Course correction

Bruno and Gem are just some of the people who indulge in an unhealthy lifestyle which includes smoking and sleep deprivation. If you have the same habits, know that it is never too late to correct your actions. 

For those who do not want to be at risk of having these diseases, the most basic and feasible solutions are the following:

1.    Have a healthy diet

Having a healthy diet can help everyone live a long life for it protects the body from undernutrition, over-nutrition, and non-communicable diseases. 

People should balance the intake of food which should include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, root crops, fat-free or low-fat milk, lean meats, poultry, fish, egg, beans, and nuts. They should also avoid eating junk food and processed food.

Having a healthy diet is vital because it purifies the body from toxins and it helps the body's organs and tissues to work efficiently. Among the best food for body cleansing are dark and leafy greens.

Dr. Villanueva said that having a balanced diet and reducing intake of fatty and salty food can also decrease the chances of having hypertension, diabetes, and kidney problems especially for those who always eat unhealthy food. 

2.    Find time to exercise
People must always remind themselves that having a sedentary lifestyle makes them more prone to many health risks thus, no matter what they do, they should find time to be active for at least 60 minutes a day. 

Doing physical activity such as exercise, dance, or sports are effective steps towards a healthy lifestyle. It helps in decreasing the tendency of people to develop certain diseases like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. 

By engaging in physical activities at least thrice a week, people can lower the health risks that they can acquire when they get older. 

3.    Turn your back on unhealthy habits

And, of course, never forget to let go all of your unhealthy habits, whether it is smoking, drinking alcohol, not getting enough sleep, or not engaging in physical activities. Eating healthy food and exercising will not be effective if you will continue your detrimental habits.

For smokers, Dr. Anceno strongly advised for them to find the motivation to quit smoking to avoid suffering from cancer, heart attack, or stroke in the future. 

"It is never too late to quit, so if you think it is affecting your body, if you think it is affecting the people around you, then you can quit anytime. As soon as you feel you are committed to quitting, then you must do it right away for your benefit and of course, those of the people around you," she advised.

Same thing goes for alcohol drinkers and those who lack sleep and eat unhealthy food—they should stop these habits to try to prolong their lives and keep their loved ones happy.

Dr. Villanueva reminded everyone to have at least six to eight hours of sleep every day, take multivitamins, and drink lots of water. 

He also mentioned that people should lessen their stress and just enjoy life.

As the saying goes: Health is wealth. While you still have the luxury of time and energy to avoid getting serious health complications in the future, you should already act now.

4.    Get protected

Check-ups are not just for little children. In fact, the older people get, the more medical tests become indispensable, such as stress tests, blood works, or pap smear procedures. Being forearmed even before the disease strikes gives you a better chance at recovery than when a diagnosis is made quite late. 

Getting protection also means taking out a health insurance plan that can help you financially in case you or your family get diagnosed with a critical illness. 

AXA, one of the leading insurance companies in the country, has several health plans to choose from depending on your need and lifestyle.

It recently introduced Health Start, a health plan that offers coverage for the top three major and minor critical conditions which are cancer, heart attack, and stroke, and some of their minor forms. Moreover, customers up to 65 years of age can still apply and get a coverage that can last until they turn a hundred years old.

For a minimum monthly payment of as low as P1,500 for Health Start (individual coverage) or P1,950 for Health Start Family, you are already protected and will be provided the best possible coverage not only for yourself but also for your family.

Health Start also offers life insurance to ensure that your family will receive the life benefit in case of your untimely demise. Standard premiums will be returned by age 75, while the remainder remains to be your coverage for illnesses or death until age 100. 

It also offers child coverage, with a one-time P200,000 benefit for covered child conditions. This is on top of the plan's overall sum insured. 

There is a suitable plan for everyone—from single persons to families. Health Start for individuals covers critical illnesses and comes with a built-in child coverage against select child conditions and is available for your child now or in the future. Health Start Family, which can be shared between you and your spouse, a parent or adult child, or a sibling, also includes a built-in child coverage.

To know more about this product, talk to an AXA Financial Advisor today or visit www.axa.com.ph/healthstart.

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