Residents in Hunt County are at a higher than average risk to develop cancer when compared to other surrounding counties.
According to Dr. Meera Shreedhara with the Texas Oncology–Greenville Lou & Jack Finney Cancer Center, there are several reasons for higher than average cancer rates in Hunt County.
Of the more than 2,000 annual cancer patients in the county each year, there are three leading cancer types: lung and bronchus, breast, and prostate cancer.
Shreedhara said there are several risk factors residents need to consider about developing these types of cancers.
Tobacco use, either inhaling through smoking, secondhand smoke or other products, still remains the top cause for not only lung, but also other types of cancers in Hunt County.
“The effects are far more widespread than lung cancer,” she said, adding smoking also highly increases the risk for being diagnosed with neck and throat cancers.
When a person inhales tobacco and puffs it into the air, they are not the only ones putting themselves at a higher risk for cancer.
“Secondhand smoke exposure is almost as bad as firsthand,” she said, adding she applauds any business that has a separate area for smoking.
Residents also put their children and loved ones at risk if they smoke in the home, so Shreedhara said it is a matter of educating the public that if they are going to smoke, do not smoke inside.
Another factor that increases a person’s risk for various types of cancer is being obese and living a sedentary lifestyle.
For women, this increases their risk factor for breast cancer, which is the most common type of cancer in women.
Shreedhara said many of the risk factors in women can be changed simply by living healthier.
Staying away from hormones or estrogen-related products, eating right and staying active decrease a woman’s chances for breast cancer.