The body is made up of trillions of cells, which consistently grow, divide and die. Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells do not die—they divide out of control, caused by damaged DNA, and can spread through-out the body. Cancer is the proliferation of malfunctioning cells. Everyone at some time has cells that behave like cancer, but do not develop cancer.
Blood, the living environment of cells is the key to cell health. If the blood is unhealthy so will the cells. Cells become susceptible to abnormal functioning when substances enter the blood stream and alter it. Low-oxygen and low-pH (acidic) states set up the conditions for cell malfunction and tax’s the immune system. Seventeen percent of the immune is located in the digestive trait, making diet key immune health. What we eat has an immediate effect on blood and cell health.
Half of all men and one-third of all women in the United States will develop cancer. Worldwide, 7.6 million people died of cancer in 2008 (13 percent of all deaths). Those in developed countries are less likely to die of cancer than those in developing countries, but are more than twice as likely as to be diagnosed with it. The main reasons for the greater cancer burden on affluent societies is life-style; exposure to tobacco, earlier exposure to cancer-causing substances in the workplace, and diet.
Gender, ethnicity, and age can all help predict a person’s risk for various types of cancer. The strongest predictors being environment, lifestyle, and genetics.
Unlike some diseases, cancer has many causes. Chronic infections are one that is frequently overlooked. Up to 23 percent of cancerous growths in developing countries, and 8 percent in developed countries, are caused by infectious agents, such as hepatitis B and C viruses (causing liver cancer), human papilloma virus (HPV), causes cervical and anogenital cancer. Helicobacter pylori bacteria causes stomach cancer. Vaccinations, like HPV vaccination, can be important to preventing certain cancers like liver cancer.
Hereditary cancer develops from one or more gene mutations passed from parent to child. The most common hereditary cancers are breast, ovarian, prostate, and colorectal. Genetic tests are now available for these genes. However, sporadic cancers—occurring by chance in individuals with no known genetic risk factors or family history—are much more common. Thus, environmental and lifestyle factors play a much greater role than genes.
One recent, large study in the United Kingdom searched for links between cancer risk and 14 common lifestyle factors: tobacco, alcohol, bodyweight, exercise, occupation, infections, radiation, reproductive history, post-menopausal hormone use, and certain foods. The 14 factors were found to be responsible for 42 percent of cancers. Unhealthy diet caused 10 percent of new cancers; tobacco caused nearly 20 percent. Tobacco is the world’s single largest preventable cause of cancer. Tobacco use accounts for at least 30 percent of all U.S. cancer deaths; 80 percent from lung cancer.
Frequent consumption of fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk of cancers of the larynx, lung, esophagus, stomach, colon, and cervix, by promoting a healthy digestion, blood and balanced pH. Unfortunately, Western nations favor highly caloric diets rich in fat, refined carbohydrates, and animal protein. Combined with low physical activity, the typical Western diet is not conducive to healthy blood and immune system. Drastic changes in lifestyle must take place to see a significant decrease in cancer numbers.
Other than prevention, the second most effective lifestyle-related approach to cancer is early detection, which can be treated while still localized. Evidence suggests that recent declines in cancer mortality in some countries are due to early detection. Detection improvements include advances in imaging technology and better education about early symptoms. More than 30 percent of cancers worldwide could be cured if detected early and treated.
The conventional medical approach to treatment is focused on eliminating the cancer cells, not the cause. Cancer treatments have improved significantly. Many more people are living longer. But this comes at a great financial cost, physical side-effects and further deterioration of the immune system. The most common treatments are drug-based therapies (chemotherapy and radiation), and surgery. Immunotherapy shows the best promise, it’s safe and aligns more closely to a natural systemic approach, because it strengthens the immune system rather than directly attacking cancer cells.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), which use non-invasive, non-pharmacological treatments, are gradually gaining recognition as critical part of treatment. Health care providers are increasingly recommending non-drug-based therapies. 38 percent of Americans in 2007 used CAM, and rates are steadily increasing. Naturopathic systems, like Chinese medicine, can help relieve pain, reduce nausea, dry mouth, and hot flashes, which are associated with drug-based cancer treatments. Numerous U.S. hospitals now offer mindfulness-based therapies, like meditation, and yoga and tai chi. But, hospitals still use these therapies as complements to drug-based therapies, not as substitutes.
Scientifically, acupuncture has been said to work by causing physical responses in nerve cells, the pituitary gland, and parts of the brain. Acupuncture has been used in Asia for millennia, but now is more commonly used to help control symptoms such as nausea and vomiting and to help improve immune functions. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, more than 3 million U.S. adults had used acupuncture in the previous year.
Cancer is a complex disease with multiple causes. But one thing is certain: a healthy immune system and blood is key to cell function. Whether engaged alone or as a complement, non-toxic, natural approaches should be central to prevention and treatment. Diet and nutrition are most effective for preventing and treating most illness. A diet filled with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans is the number #1 preventative method, and a key part of facilitating the body’s innate self-healing capacity.
© 2018 Keyvan Golestaneh