Cancer – What everyone needs to know?

The word cancer is the most dreaded word. Believe it or not, the spread of cancer in recent years has been very rapid. Someone close to us are or were suffering from cancer and most of us have experienced the disease very closely. I experienced it closely when my sister in law died a few years ago of a cervix cancer.

What is cancer?

Our body is made up of cells and these cells have certain work to do in our bodies. Normal cells divide in an orderly way. They die when they are worn out or damaged, and new cells take their place. Cancer is when the cells start to grow out of control and misbehave. These cancer cells keep on growing and making new cells. They crowd out normal cells. This impacts the functioning of the body part impacted by these cells.

Most cancers form a lump called a tumor or a growth. But not all lumps are cancer. Lumps that are not cancer are called benign and lumps that are cancer are called malignant.

As per the Ayurveda, the oldest Indian indigenous medicine system, “The nervous system (Vata or air), the venous system (Pitta or fire) and the arterial system (Kapha or water) are three basics of Ayurveda and very important for normal body function. In malignant tumors all three systems get out of control (Tridoshas) and lose mutual coordination that causes tissue damage, resulting in critical condition.”

Today I am writing about the preventable aspects of cancer.

We believe cancer is a non-preventable disease. (Myth)

No one is immune from any disease. However, many diseases can be avoided by the lifestyle choices we make.

These include heart problem, diabetes, high bold pressure, backache and many others, including to a large extent Cancer too.

As per the Springer Pharmaceutical Research, “The fact that only 5–10% of all cancer cases are due to genetic defects and that the remaining 90–95% are due to environment and lifestyle provides major opportunities for preventing cancer…..”

We all know smoking, tobacco and alcohol are the major causes of cancer. People consuming these products are more probable to attract cancer. Therefore, by avoiding such products we can avoid the probability of the disease.

However, we see many people not consuming any of these products also suffer from cancer and therefore we affirm our belief that cancer is non-preventable and we can’t do anything about it and we continue our habit of smoking, alcohol, and tobacco.

Reports suggest the percentage of cancer-related deaths attributable to diet and tobacco are as high as 60–70% worldwide. Tobacco product use is the most preventable cause of cancer.

The World Cancer Research Fund estimates 20% of all cancers diagnosed in the US is caused by a combination of excess body weight, physical inactivity, excess alcohol and poor nutrition. The causes indicate these are preventable cancers.

According to WHO, Diets high in fruits and vegetables may have an independent protective effect against many cancers. Regular physical activity and the maintenance of a healthy body weight, along with a healthy diet, considerably reduce cancer risk.

Outdoor air pollution is classified as carcinogenic, or cancer-causing, for humans. It has been estimated that outdoor air pollution contributed to 3.2 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012 including more than 200,000 lung cancer deaths.

Researchers are finding a link between chronic sleeplessness and sleep deprivation and cancer. Sleeplessness reduces body’s immune system and this could be the reason. They also find disruptions of body’s biological clock also increase the chances of cancer. Sleep well and live a regular life.  

We pay less attention to what we eat. We don’t know whether what we eat provides nutrition to our body needs. The most common cancer-causing foods are;

  • Refined sugar and white flour
  • Soda
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Food in cans produced with BPA (toxic chemical)
  • Grilled or processed meat
  • Artificial sweeteners’ (diabetes patients and diet conscious, be careful)
  • Potato chips are fried at high temperatures to make them crispy but this also causes them to make a material called acrylamide, a known carcinogen that is also found in cigarettes. Imagine what risk your children are running !!
  • Hydrogenated Oil (Used as food preservatives)
  • Too much salt or pickled food
  • Any food that is called “Diet”

If you look at the list you will find most are processed food with added sugar, salt, preservatives.

As per the MD Anderson Cancer Centre, University of Texas, some foods are considered cancer preventive food. These are;

  • Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower
  • Cauliflower
  • Peas (fresh or frozen)
  • Oranges
  • Red or purple grapes (preferably organic)
  • Fresh or frozen berries (preferably organic)
  • Bran flakes
  • Oatmeal
  • Almonds
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Low-fat or fat-free salad dressing
  • Turmeric
  • Purple grape juice (100% juice, no added sugar)
  • Green or white tea (tea bags or loose)
  • Water

The choices you make every day can raise or lower your personal cancer risk.

As per the Indian Cancer Society, following are the danger signs of Cancer:

  • A Persistent sore, especially if it is in the mouth, on the lip or on the tongue. Long standing sores due to smoking, sharp edge of the teeth, or dental plates that do not fit, can develop into cancer if not taken care of
  • Lumps or masses which appear where none were present previously should arouse suspicion of cancer.
  • Unexplained and abnormal bleeding from any body opening should be quickly investigated by a physician. Coughing up or vomiting blood, passing blood in the urine and rectal bleeding are common symptoms of cancer. In women, the first sign of cancer of the uterus is often a bloody discharge occurring between menstrual periods or after menopause.
  • Persistent indigestion and change in bowel movement.
  • Persistent hoarseness and cough of abnormal duration deserve a careful examination by your doctor.
  • Unexplained loss of weight may be due to many things but may also be due to hidden cancer.

Cancer can also be prevented with timely check up. Some cancers like breast, colon, rectum, cervix, and lung can be prevented by timely screening. Timely screening also helps early stage diagnosis. Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA) conducts many such preventive camps.

Any disease can inflict us any time. However, preventive awareness can greatly reduce the chances of disease; we are attracting due to our life choices.

Prevention is better than cure is the most applicable in the case Cancer.  We can act only till Cancer inflicts us. Period.

“An ounce of cancer prevention is worth a ton of cancer cure.” 
― Robert A. Wascher, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race

Share with our loved one.

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