By Julie Wilson
“How to Fight Cancer & Win” by William L. Fischer, teaches readers truly everything they need to know about cancer, including its causes and how it spreads. This article provides a snippet from a section of the book that focuses on the environmental, genetic, dietary and lifestyle factors that cause cancer. Learning these important contributors now can save your life later on.
What causes cancer?
In the past 10 years alone, science has come a long way in understanding the way cancer develops and what triggers the mutations that cause a normal cell to turn cancerous. The National Cancer Institute says emphatically that many cancers can be prevented by making appropriate changes in our lifestyle. There are a number of areas where we have full control. By making the right choices, we can exercise a preventive effect against cancer.
The man-made chemical carcinogens that pollute the food chain and are present in our drinking water and air are largely unavoidable. Even the NCI notes that cleaning up the environment will require broad social actions or system changes to achieve effective controls. But you can ask your doctor if that X-ray is really necessary, and you can work with your employer to reduce your exposure to carcinogens that may be a part of your occupational hazard.
In fact, the NCI lists exposure to occupational carcinogens as a preventable health hazard. Plans on the drawing board include educating both employers and employees in certain industries (asbestos, benzene, anilene dye) to the dangers and working with these companies to develop stringent safety standards. Incidentally, you should know that smokers who work in these industries are increasing their risk of developing cancer 50 times over.
You have no control over the genes you were born with, but people born into a “cancer-prone” family can still adopt healthy habits and have a good chance of escaping the disease.
The NCI points out that we have control over many factors that comprise a large part of our lifestyles. These factors include eliminating the use of tobacco, selecting preventive foods, eliminating suspect foods, reducing our exposure to sunlight, adopting healthy sex habits (and choosing a healthy partner), and practicing good personal hygiene.
Over 170,000 people die needlessly of cancer every year simply because they refuse to give up smoking tobacco. NCI [National Cancer Institute] statistics reveal that about 30 percent of all cancer deaths are directly attributable to smoking.
It is a fact that those who smoke two or more packs of ‘cancer sticks’ daily have a lung cancer death rate 25 times higher than non smokers. In 1986, data shows that lung cancer may exceed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women for the first time.
Since the early 1950s, lung cancer rates have increased 256 percent among women and 172 percent among men. In spite of the scientific evidence targeting the carcinogens in tobacco smoke as a cause of cancer, known and publicised for over 20 years, there are still 47 million Americans who continue to puff away their lives, one breath at a time.
The dietary factors
Figures from the National Cancer Institute show that approximately 35 percent of all cancers can be attributed to dietary imbalances. Since the early 1900s, we have steadily increased our consumption of meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, refined sugars and sweeteners, fats and oils, and processed fruits and vegetables.
We have steadily reduced our consumption of whole-grain products, potatoes, fresh fruit and vegetables, and eggs. Let’s face it. We’ve got lazy. We like our over processed chemical-saturated convenience foods.
But a vast number of studies show that excessive fat intake, inadequate dietary fibre, and a deficiency of important micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are related to higher rates of certain cancers.
Dietary insufficiencies and excesses are associated with cancers of the gastrointestinal tract (including the esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, pancreas, and liver), plus sex and hormone-specific sites (such as the breast, prostate, ovaries, and endometrium). Dietary factors also play a part in the development of cancers of the respiratory system and the urinary tract.
Figures Don’t Lie: What we want to bring home to you here is that it’s up to you to incorporate the appropriate preventive measures into your lifestyle. You don’t have to smoke. And you control what you serve for dinner.
The table below, prepared with hard data from the National Cancer Institute, shows very graphically that simply by eliminating tobacco and eating correctly we can reduce cancer mortality by 65 percent. And those are good odds to have working in your favour.
Causes of cancer death
Factors Identified Percent of Cancer Deaths:
• Dietary Factors 35%
• Tobacco Use 30%
• Sexual Behavior/Reproductive Systems 7%
• Occupational Hazards 4%
• Alcohol 3%
• Geophysical Factors 3%
• Pollution (water/food/environment) 2%
• Industrial Products 1%
• Medicines & Medical Procedures 1%