Friday, 25 April 2014

CANCER: CAUSES AND PREVENTION

Every year more and more people worldwide are expected to be diagnosed with cancer, a disease commonly believed to be preventable. Only 5–10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90–95% has their roots in the environment and lifestyle. The lifestyle factors include cigarette smoking, diet (fried foods, red meat), alcohol, sun exposure, environmental pollutants, infections, stress, obesity, and physical inactivity. The evidence indicates that of all cancer-related deaths, almost 25–30% are due to tobacco, as many as 30–35% are linked to diet, about 15–20% are due to infections, and the remaining percentage are due to other factors like radiation, stress, physical activity, environmental pollutants etc.


There is growing medical evidence that when excessive free radicals are allowed to exist near the nucleus of the cell, DNA of the cell can be damaged. The DNA of the nucleus is especially vulnerable when a cell is dividing, during which time the DNA strand is literally unwound and stretched out. Researchers are now able to confirm not only that, free radicals can damage the DNA nucleus of a cell, but also which strands of the DNA they damage most frequently.

When met with an onslaught of carcinogens, the body’s defense unit will be busy trying to repair the damaged DNA. But in times of heavy oxidative stress, free-radical damage overwhelms the repair system and can lead to mutation of the DNA. Free radicals can also wreak damage on the genetic structure of the DNA, which can then lead to abnormal growth of the cell. As these cells continue to replicate, this mutated DNA is carried to each newly developed cell. When there is further oxidative stress to this mutated DNA of the cell, more damage occurs. The cell will then begin to grow out of control and take on a life of its own. It develops the ability to spread from one part of body to another, thus becoming a true cancer.


The good thing is that, it takes years to develop a cancer (20 or more) to develop from initial mutation to full blown manifestation. So you have numerous opportunities to intervene in this process. 
Here is how you can help yourself,
  1. Decrease the risk of developing cancer by reducing smoking, alcohol, opting for low diet, reducing exposure to radiation. Be aware of carcinogens (cancer causing agents) such as pesticides, herbicides (in food), and asbestos and remove them out of your life.
  2. Increase body’s immune system and nourish the body’s repair systemby giving the body anti-oxidants which can prevent further oxidative stress by balancing free radicals to lower cancer risk, for few people it is absolutely not possible to eliminate exposure to carcinogens.
Increasing intake of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene can significantly reduce oxidative damage to the DNA

Studies have shown patients treated with antioxidants, with or without chemotherapy and radiation, have many benefits. Patients have been noted to tolerate standard treatment better, experience less weight loss, have a better quality of life, and most importantly, live longer than patients receiving no supplements. It is time to research the role of these agents in conventional oncologic treatment, rather than dismiss them as a class based on theoretical concerns.

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