Michael Douglas recently announced that his battle with throat cancer in 2010 originated from one of our greatest pleasures in life: oral sex. Whether or not going down on his beautiful wife was the reason for his cancer, Douglas also mentioned that drinking and smoking were possible contributing factors to his diagnosis. Angelina Jolie also recently made public that she underwent a preventive mastectomy back in February, after discovering that she had inherited the BRCA1 cancer gene. So, what do the revelations of these celebrity figures mean for the rest of us?
Very simply, we need to start taking better care of our bodies. As Generation-Y, we are the current and forthcoming leaders of our society. We need to take responsibility for our own health and set the example for generations that come both before and after us. As a generation of trend-setters, innovators, seekers and creators, we need to generate a greater awareness of the risks of cancer and how to take greater precautions, and we need to start with our own health.
What can we do to take preventative action? While many types of cancer are caused by an inherited defective gene, such as the BRCA1 gene which Angelina Jolie was carrying, there are a variety of lifestyle changes that we can make to lessen the risks. Tobacco and alcohol are a couple of the most familiar causes of many types of cancer that much of our generation dabbles in, but the list is expansive and seems to grow by the day.
Avoiding tobacco products all together, including smoking and chewing, is one major way that our generation can make a change. The prevalence of this cancer-causing addiction is growing way too high for a society that has been educated on its risks since President Nixon required a warning label to be placed on tobacco products in 1970.
Puffing on cigs is taken way too lightly by our young-minded generation, who considers smoking bogies a go-to social activity. That short-lived buzz that so many of us crave, however, could be your one-way ticket to developing lung, oral or pancreatic cancer. Aside from the life-threatening risks, how about the superficial reasons for quitting? Your breath is repugnant, your clothes and personal belongings become hoarders of the scent of an ash tray, your skin begins to wrinkle and turn dull and your teeth yellow.
Let's turn our attention to another popular vice of Generation-Y: alcohol. It seems like our generation has become so akin to alcohol use that we can hardly make it through a single week without it, and more specifically, without abusing it. Alcohol is not only relevant to our social lives, but it is stealthily creeping into our professional lives, as well. Drinking is becoming a growing social norm of our culture, but does that give us permission to abuse it as Gen-Y'ers do with everything else in life? Everything in moderation is a key motto that we should all live by.
We are actively setting the tone for future generations and the norms of our society, and we're not setting the bar very high. It's the same substances that cause various types of cancer that the majority of our generation ironically enjoys in our down time. It's the tanning beds that you see 20 people waiting in line for, eager to get just a couple shades darker, that are giving people skin cancer.
It's the unprotected sex that we feign that's transmitting HPV and other STIs that contribute to the development of certain cancers. It's the McDonald's on every corner of every city that are contributing to the poor diets of so many Americans and leading to the increasing obesity epidemic, which are putting people at risk for many different forms of cancer. Yet, it seems the things that we all lavish in are, consequently, the worst for us.
Not only do we need to control, and even cease, some of these lifestyle habits in order to improve our own health and educate younger generations, but it's also up to Generation-Y to influence our older generations to take preventative action to avoid developing cancer. One movement, F*ck Cancer, is empowering Generation-Y to do just that.
The goal of the F*ck Cancer movement, led by Yael Cohen, is to instill awareness in Gen-Y'ers about how to stay healthy to avoid developing cancer, what telltale signs to be on the lookout for and what questions to ask, in order to take control of the health of our generation, as well as our parents. The story behind the emergence of F*ck Cancer is truly moving, and Cohen has the right idea to get her message out. Considering that Generation-Y is at the core of our growing and ever-changing society, we have never been in a better position to spark discussion and make a difference.
So, what will you do to make a difference? What preventative action will you take to preserve your health, the health of our youths and the health of our elders? Will you support and translate the mission of F*ck Cancer by sparking conversation? Until the fateful day that our generation finds a cure for the beastly disease that is cancer -- because we have confidence that it will be one of our very own Gen-Y'ers -- it is up to us to start a revolution against all that feeds the beast.