Cancer poses one of the greatest public health threats of the 21st century

Dear Editor,
First I wish to applaud Annand Boodram for his excellent and timely article on alcohol and some of its major effects on this society, and the issue of alcohol in our culture.
Nowrang Persaud, thankfully, has acknowledged the impact of alcohol on domestic violence, road traffic accidents and suicide – but that is only the tip of the iceberg.
Along with my colleagues in the medical profession we are left to deal with the devastating effects of alcohol on a daily basis.
Alcohol is among the five most addictive substances of abuse which are; heroin, crack cocaine, tobacco, diazepam and alcohol. It also shrinks the brain of chronic alcoholics and some experts feel it may be one reason why some don’t understand the implications of drinking on an industrial scale.
Alcohol is responsible for significant morbidity and mortality – it is responsible for seven types of cancers and more than 600,000 deaths globally every year – which include head & neck, oesophagus, liver, colon, rectal and breast – the problems of alcohol are immense. It includes heart disease, heart failure, rhythm disturbance, stroke, pancreatitis, acute and chronic liver disease, liver failure and liver cancer which has a dismal prognosis. No diabetic should drink alcohol, it is neurotoxin and damages the nerves.
The full scope of the effects of alcohol cannot be addressed in this letter.
Towards this end the Guyana Cancer Prevention Society (GCPS) is pleased to announce that one of its main objectives is to increase Public Awareness that Cancer poses one of the greatest public health threats of the 21 century. More than 80-90 per cent of all cancers are PREVENTABLE, yet more than 80 per cent of all cancers present, advance to stages 3-4 cancer, with afflicted persons living six months to a year if they have the best standard of care.
In 2014, some 14 million people globally were diagnosed with cancer and there were 8.2 million deaths – by 2030, 22 million people will be diagnosed with cancer and more than 14 million deaths will be registered.
The tragedy is some 65 per cent of all cancers will occur in low and mid-income countries like Guyana. This alarming rate of increase in new cancer cases and in the number of deaths, tell a clear story – we are failing to control cancer, and carrying on business as usual is unthinkable
The cost to the global economy by 2020 will exceed US.2 trillion. Quite clearly we cannot spend our way out of this crisis.
The GCPS’ mission is to educate the public and change the arc of literacy on cancer.
We recognise that the following are the main causes of Cancer – and our mission is to prevent the preventable cancers and provide screening for early detection to cure cancer.
Tobacco is the number one preventable cause of cancer and responsible for more than 70 per cent of all cancer deaths. Every year tens of millions people start smoking.
The GCPS will work with the Ministry of Health and support the introduction of the strongest legislation to curb tobacco use, and prevent more tobacco-related cancer deaths.
Alcohol is the second most preventable cause of cancer and like tobacco is addictive. I am not certain how many people adhere to the mantra “drink responsibly – two drinks only,” too many people make poor choices and lack discipline -” two drinks only – that is just to get us started” is what we hear too often.
OBESITY and a LACK OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY is another preventable cause of cancer – too many calories, sugar, salt and fat, fuel the Obesity epidemic.
Sexually transmitted viral infections causes five major cancers, all of these Cancers are preventable, remember, safe sex – the most frequent sexually transmitted viral infection is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which causes several cancers, the most well-known is cervical cancer – which Is preventable with the HPV vaccine and screening for early detection and appropriate treatment as required. HIV-Aids 4 cancers, Hepatitis, B&C, HPV, and HTLV1.
Again we will work with the Ministry of Health and all organisations to ensure that no woman need die from this preventable and curable cancer.
We as a nation can and must do better – together we can all make a difference.
It is Time for Action.

Yours faithfully,
Carl Niamatali
President: Guyana
Cancer Prevention