By Tasi’u Hassan
As authorities continue to express concern over the rising cases of cancer in Nigeria and the world at large, a health expert Dr. Adamu Bala Ningi is calling on Nigerians to revert to their traditional food to address the challenge.
Dr. Adamu Bala Ningi, who is a Consultant General Surgeon at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi made the call in a telephone interview with our staff reporter, Tasi’u HASSAN on this year’s World Cancer Day, which was celebrated on 4th February.
According to Dr. Ningi, there are many types of cancers, but most of them depend on the gender of the people.
“All over the world lung cancer is the most common cancer, but we hardly see lung cancers in Africa because the number of cigarette smokers is less than those in Europe”, Dr. Ningi said.
He said the most devastating cancers in Africa are breast and cervical cancers in Women, as well as prostate and colon cancers in men.
Dr. Ningi explained the emerging trend they observed is the emergence of cancer in many young people, explaining that previously they only saw people around the age of 50 and above with cancers, but now the disease is very prevalent among those at the age of 30 and 40.
The consultant general surgeon noted that they didn’t yet understand the reason for the emergence of cancer at an earlier age than what it used to be, but it could be linked to people’s dietary habits, among other reasons.
According to him “We have started adopting the western meal, we have started taking low fiber diet like now you will see that Spaghetti,. Indomie and the rest, noodles are very common in our diet. I think this may be a contributory factor.
While advising people to revert to their traditional food for healthy living, Dr. Ningi also urged females to adopt monthly self-breast examinations and to report any lump noticed in their breasts to physicians.
Dr. Adamu Bala Ningi, emphasized the importance of early detection of cancer in determining the success of its treatment, just as he advised people, especially those who are past the age of 40 to visit the hospital whenever they notice any change.
He says “The most important message I have for the people is to imbibe the culture of health-seeking behaviour. We should try to go to the hospital as early as possible when we notice any change, especially if you pass the age of 40. For females, I emphasise the role of self-breast examination every month, and any lump noticed in your breast should be taken seriously, you should go and see your physician, let the Doctor clear you of any doubt. The second message is about our diet. We should be careful in the adoption of the Western meal. We should revert to our traditional meals, which are rich in fiber, rich in residue, these are safer, unlike the refined food we eat now”.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has disclosed that over 500,000 Africans died of cancer in the year 2022 as it called for urgent interventions to avert a projected one million annual deaths by 2030, considering about 882,000 new cancer cases reported in the African Region the same year.
WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, in a message to commemorate the 2024 World Cancer Day, noted that more cases and deaths may be recorded yearly if there are no urgent interventions.
Moeti also said the cancer situation in Africa is disheartening, noting that approximately 882,000 new cases occurred in the African Region in 2022. She said about 573,653 deaths were also recorded in the same year.