In honor of Gulf Cancer Week and World Cancer Day, the American University in the Emirates has conducted a trilogy of seminars to raise awareness on the causes and preventions of cancer in order to change attitudes in the UAE.
With cancer being the third leading cause of death in the UAE following heart disease and accidents and the percentage of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the UAE being similar to the global average, AUE knew it was time to take some serious action.
The first day kicked off with a seminar by Dr. Jazla Fadda on ‘Healthy Lifestyle Choices’ where attendees were able to learn some shocking facts that pushed them into gear to make new and conscious decisions to change their everyday habits.
Dr. Jazla Fadda revealed that at the rate of cancer cases today it is globally estimated that there will be 15 million cases by 2020 and it is only through consideration of the effects of our environment and lifestyle choices can we beat this worrying statistic. She continued to say, “The most important aspect was to be physically active, allowing oxygen into your body, and having a balanced diet void of processed food”.
Joining her on the day was Ms. Raashi Sadana, who delved into orchestrating positive energy through the Chinese environmental philosophical system, Feng Shui. She noted well that, “There is energy in everything and if the energy is wrong the effect will be adverse”. With so many aspects of modern life effecting our wellbeing Feng Shui brings 3500 year-old tactics that are easily adaptable today.
Dr. Jazla Fadda returned for the second day seminar on ‘Tobacco Facts and Epidemiological Figures’ where AUE faculty, staff and students learned of not only all the disturbing components of a cigarette, that clearly have no place in our body, but of facts that had attendees gasping for eternal fresh air. What was more distressing is the connection of cancer to Shisha smoking, a prevalent trend in the UAE, which due to its water element worsens your chances of avoiding cancer diagnosis much more than through cigarette smoking.
Smoking is the top reason for cancer diagnosis worldwide and causes 12% of noncancerous deaths. That is why AUE welcomed Dr. Amna Hasan Shalash for her ‘Quit Smoking Tips’ seminar which exposed that quitting smoking is difficult not primarily because of a lack of will power, yet the pressures of advertising along with the lack of taxation on cigarettes preludes an absence of formal education and communication on the subject.
To finish off, AUE’s final seminar day had the presence of clinical dietician and TV personality Dr. Dana Al-Hamwi. On this day audience were taught the benefits of a healthy diet through including anti-oxidants and avoiding processed foods and meats. In an American study revealed that vegetarians are 40 percent less likely to develop cancer. This brought an active debate on what constitutes a healthy meal, where some of the audience were able to learn of simple ways to alter their dishes to add the much needed vitamins and nutrients.
At the end of the three day seminar all audiences were able to come away with something new that they had learned and hence were able to pass on a new message to their peers, loved ones and anyone they meet, as cancer is unprejudiced to anyone, that a healthy diet plays a large role in determining your wellbeing.