Sunday, May 11, 2008
Cancer is one of the more feared diseases that unfortunately strikes many more people now than in the past. There are many kinds of cancer, but they all share a common theme - human cells gone awry and proliferating out of control such that they eventually disrupt normal bodily functions and eventually cause death. There are several factors that appear to play significant roles in causing cancer: diet, exposure to carcinogens, exposure to ionizing radiation, and genetics.
Cells may become damaged by poor nutrition or exposure to harmful chemicals or by ionizing radiation such as cosmic rays or x-rays. Most damaged cells die and cause no problems. But with trillions of cells constantly reproducing to sustain our bodies, sooner or later there will be cells that are damaged in such a way that they survive, but function abnormally. When these abnormal cells lose their normal propensity to die (apoptosis) they can proliferate out of control and then you have cancer.
Cancer and the Immune System
Research indicates that our immune system normally attacks and destroys cells that are no longer functioning properly, as is the case with cancer cells. Cancer is only able to proliferate when it can manage to avoid the body's defenses, which may happen if the immune system is weak or if the cancer is able to deceive the immune system into accepting it as normal. Excess dietary sugar and polyunsaturated fat both weaken the immune system. Some toxins and poisons can also weaken the immune system. Ironically, conventional chemotherapy for cancer also weakens the immune system.
Cancer and Glucose
Another characteristic of cancer is that cancer cells are only able to burn glucose for energy, unlike normal cells, which can also burn fat for energy. They also consume much more glucose than normal cells. Because of this peculiarity, it is possible that high blood glucose levels may add fuel to the fire once it has started. A study in Korea showed that people with elevated fasting blood glucose levels had about a 20 to 30 percent higher risk of all types of cancer and about double the risk of pancreatic cancer. Another study found that people with elevated fasting insulin and glucose levels were about 50% more likely to have recurring colon polyps and about 2.4 times more likely to have advanced colon tumor recurrence. Low carbohydrate diets may help to slow down the run-away proliferation of cancer cells by helping to normalize blood insulin and glucose levels and to keep them from spiking after meals.
Cancer and Genetics
Studies of identical twins suggest that most cancers have a genetic component to susceptibility, some cancers more than others. Thyroid, testicular, and laryngeal cancers and lymphocytic leukemia and multiple myeloma appear to have a stronger genetic component. Also, cancers with early age diagnosis generally have a higher familial risk. However, the overall heritability has been estimated at only about 18% for all types of cancer on average, leaving environment as the major factor in causing cancer.
Dealing with Cancer
Once cancer begins to proliferate enough to cause symptoms, it is very often at an advanced stage and difficult to control. Billions of dollars have been spent over decades to find ways to cure cancer, but so far, no consistent cures have been found. Consequently, avoiding cancer is all the more important.
If cancer does strike, be sure to evaluate all of the options available before deciding on a strategy to try and overcome cancer. The Annie Appleseed Project is a good resource for finding information about complimentary and alternative methods of cancer treatment.
In reality, we all may be dealing with cancer. Our choices in life may affect whether cancer can take root and grow.
Make your choices carefully!