"At least one-third of all cancer cases are preventable. Prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer." (World Health Organisation, 2016)
Primary prevention generally means the effort to modify risk factors or prevent their development with the aim of delaying or preventing new-onset of disease. Most often this is associated with heart disease, diabetes, or cancer but applies to a wide range of health conditions.
Stopping smoking is one of the greatest ways to prevent cancer as tobacco use causes an estimated 22% of cancer deaths per year (WHO, 2016). Tobacco smoking can cause cancer of the lung, oesophagus, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach and cervix. It can also lead to cancer in non-smoking adults via second-hand smoke (WHO, 2016).
So stopping smoking can not only help prevent cancer in yourself, but also those around you that you care about.
In addition to cancer, smoking has been linked with a large number of other conditions. Smoking can increase your risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which incorporates bronchitis and emphysema pneumonia. It can make conditions such as asthma and the common cold worse, as well as in some cases reducing fertility levels and causing impotence in men. (NHS, 2016)
As an ex-smoker, I know that stopping smoking can be a challenge, however with support your chances of a successful quit attempt significantly increase, in addition to being provided with skills to help maintain the quit attempt and turn it into a lasting change.
There are links between being overweight or obese and many different diseases. Many types of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are just some of the diseases with established links to obesity.
Dietary modification is one way to reduce the risk of disease progression. For example, excess consumption of red and processed meats have been associated with increased cancer risk. Additionally, some diets, such as those high in fruits and vegetables may have a protective effect against many cancers. Regular physical activity and the maintenance of a healthy body weight, will considerably reduce the risk of developing cancer, type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease or stroke.
Being supported to make small daily changes to diet and physical activity can have significant, and importantly lasting, positive benefits to all round health.
High alcohol consumption is a risk factor for many cancer types including cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum and breast. The higher the amount of alcohol consumed, the higher the risk. (WHO, 2016)
Other long term health risks associated with alcohol misuse include high blood pressure, stroke, pancreatitis, liver disease, mental and behavioural disorders, sexual problems, such as impotence or premature ejaculation and infertility. In addition to this, alcohol misuse can also have long-term social implications. (NHS, 2016)
Learning techniques and skills to make positive changes to drinking behaviours, and reduce levels of alcohol consumption can lower risk of developing alcohol related conditions.
*Please note I do not work with drug or alcohol addiction. If addiction was identified, I would recommend onward referral to an appropriate specialist.
Following any new health diagnosis we are often instructed by a health care professional to make certain lifestyle changes. This may be to improve the outcome of the new condition, prepare our bodies for the treatment we need to undergo or improve our overall general health so we are as fit as possible to cope with the new heath status.
For example, if you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes it is very important to look after yourself by eating a healthy balanced diet, exercising regularly, not smoking and limiting alcohol consumption. Taking good care of yourself will make treating your diabetes easier and reduce the risk of diabetes related complications.
I can support you to make changes to your health, and other, behaviours during this potentially difficult time. Together we can identify ways to make these changes as easy and realistic as possible for you, increasing the chances of long term behaviour change and successful future health outcomes.
Following treatment for any health condition, for example cancer, heart attack, broken arms and legs, minor or major surgery, you may be required to make changes to your behaviour. For example, you may need to take daily medication or alter your diet significantly. You may need to stop something that has been part of your life for years or take up an entirely new behaviour. Or you may find that you have difficulty carrying out simple tasks that you have previously taken for granted.
Whatever your situation you may find that working alongside a health psychologist can help. Together we can identify what has changed, and establish ways to cope or adapt to these changes, resolve previous function, or where this is not possible, find alternative solutions to help you move forward feeling positive about your new circumstances.
We all have behaviours we know we could improve, or have encountered a change in circumstance which could mean we need to make changes to our behaviour.
For example by changing our diet, becoming more physically active or stopping smoking, it could limit the progression or effects of a long term condition or illness, such as a cancer diagnosis or heart attack. It may be a specific change such as taking medication daily, adhering to advice or coming to terms with physical limitations following a change in health status. Or it may be reducing alcohol consumption, reducing sedentary behaviour or introducing new activities to prevent ill health, such as cancer, diabetes or obesity related conditions.
Whatever the change and whatever the reason, for most of us, will power alone is not enough.
Health psychology incorporates theory, techniques and strategies to help provide skills, and increase capability, motivation or opportunity to assist you with making changes. As a Chartered Psychologist and Health Psychologist specialising in lifestyle behaviour change, I can help equip you with new skills and support you to achieve positive health changes which can enrich your life.
Through the use of goal setting and planning, or by focusing on emotions, habits and impulses or through exploring your social and cultural environments, I can help you to achieve your intended behaviour. Depending on your situation sessions will focus on improving your psychological or physical abilities, increasing knowledge or providing you with the motivation you need to help you to progress in your desired direction.
Please get in touch to discuss other areas of behaviour change.
During our first session we will explore your reasons for attending, the behaviours you wish to change and discuss a little about your overall lifestyle and day to day living. This will allow me to assess which techniques and theoretic basis will be most suitable, devise a plan to provide you with the maximum support and establish approximately how many subsequent sessions will be needed.
It is likely that the plan will involve approximately 4 - 6 additional sessions; however, this will vary based upon the individual and the complexity of the behaviour in question.