There is no one such thing as “Cancer” so general discussions are difficult. In fact there are over 100 different cancers we know about today. To start, for the purposes of this discussion, let’s just consider it an abnormal growth of cells which spread uncontrollably throughout the body and damage surrounding normal cells.
Cancer is a highly powerful cell ager as well. The disease can actually accelerate the aging process by causing chemical changes in the body that lead to painful joints, dulled appetite, weight loss, weakness and fatigue.
There will be over one million American diagnosed this year with cancer. Some cancers are hereditary. In fact, current researchers suspect that 5 to 10 percent of cancers may be inherited. In most other cases, the disease develops through a complex series of steps that often includes prolonged exposure to carcinogens, such as tobacco, which are cancer-causing substances. Carcinogens usually affect cells in specific organs. Asbestos, for example, increases a person’s risk of lung cancer, while excessive sun exposure is linked to increased risk of skin cancer.
Most researchers believe that carcinogens cause the formation of free radicals, unstable oxygen molecules that can damage thestring of DNA molecules that tell cells how to reproduce. Once the DNA is damaged in critical places, a cancer cell may form.
Many cancer take up to 30 years to occur. As a result, there are some lifestyle adjustments that can be made to help fend off the disease.
First, if you smoke, stop. Smokers are ten times more likely to develop lung cancer, and up to 30 percent of all cancer deaths are caused by smoking. Related to this, be wary of passive smoke. Avoid smoky bars and always ask to be seated in nonsmoking sections of restaurants.
Secondly, don’t drink excessively. Heavy alcohol consumption increases your risk for cancers of the liver, mouth, esophagus and larynx.
Third, get more fiber in your diet. Women who eat lots of fibrous fruits, vegetables and whole grains may have fewer breast, colon and rectal cancers than those who don’t eat these foods.
Fourth, eat more vegetables. and fruits. These foods contain antioxidant vitamins and minerals such as beta-carotene, selenium and vitamins A, C and E that combat the formation of free radicals.
Fifth, take a supplement containing vitamins C, E and other antioxidant vitamins and minerals. These can help fight free radicals neutralize certain carcinogens such as the nitrites found in bacon, sausage, hot dogs and cured meats. Supplements can also strengthen your body’s immune system so that it can destroy newly formed cancer cells before they multiply.
Sixth, limit your fat intake. A high-fat diet, is believed to trigger cancer. Experts suggest slashing your dietary fat consumption to no more than 25 percent of calories.
Seventh, go easy on the barbecue. The smoke and heat of char broiling creates several cancer-causing substances, including nitrosamine, one of the most potent carcinogens known. Limit your exposure by placing the grill as far above the coals as possible and wrap aluminum foil around the grill to prevent fat from dripping onto the flame and causing excessive smoke and charring.
Eighth, lose weight. In one study, researchers at the Harvard concluded that people who remain physically active throughout their lives are 2 1/2 times less susceptible to many types of cancer.
Ninth, avoid direct exposure to the sun. Skin cancer, one of the most common cancers (it affects more than 700,000 Americans), is caused primarily by sunburn. To prevent skin cancer, avoid prolonged sun exposure, wear hats and long-sleeved blouses, and don’t go bare-legged without using a sun block that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.
Treatments for cancer include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy, which consists of injections of proteins and antibodies that assist or stimulate the immune system to fight the cancer. New combinations of treatments are alsopromising. Whatever type of cancer you have, the psychological strain can be enormous. This one factor has been known, by itself, to accelerate the disease. The best advice is to maintain a positive attitude during the disease, make the appropriate lifestyle changes and continue with appropriate medical treatments. Having cancer isn’t an automatic death sentence. In fact, more than half of all Americans diagnosed with cancer survive, according to the American Cancer Society. If detected early, many types of cancer, such as those of the skin and breast, have five-year survival rates topping 90 percent. If a patient appears free of cancer symptoms for five years, doctors may consider the person “cured,” although some cancers may relapse after ten or more years