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What causes cancer?

What causes cancer?

It must be understood that cancer is usually taken as a lump or growth however the tumor is only the symptom of the disease, while cancer begins at a molecular level in the body. The physiological effects that cancer has on your body are the alarm signals going off due to biological dysfunctions.

While there are numerous reasons to the causes of cancer the major ones are listed below.

  1. The immune system

Our bodies are made to heal and our immune system plays an imperative role in the process, however if this line of defense is not strong enough then there are bound to be invaders. Additionally, a certain segment of the population who have problems with their immune system are more likely to get certain types of cancers. These include HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS victims, organ transplant patients that are taking immune suppressive drugs in order to protect organ rejection and individuals who are born with medical conditions that affect their immunity. It is however important to note that any one of us who has a severely depressed immune are prone to the disease. Cancer is the symptom of an immune depressive body.

  1. Genes

Some individuals are born with genetic predispositions, which are nothing but genetic mutations within a gene. This however does not mean they will get cancer but instead have a higher risk of adopting it. The BRCA1 and BRCA2 breast cancer gene mutations are appropriate examples of the case. Cancers caused by gene mutations make-up only 5 -10% of all cancer cases.

  1. Chemicals

Chemical carcinogens present in food additives (colours, flavours and sweeteners) can be a prominent cause of developing cancer. Aflatoxin, which is derived from a mould grown on stored food, especially on peanuts are caused by hot and humid conditions and are linked to liver cancer. Artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, neotame and cyclamate have also been associated to cancer. Nitrosamines are chemicals found in cured meat and smaller amounts in beer are claimed to be carcinogenic, while foods cooked on high temperatures, especially meat, that are burnt on the outside create a chemical called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons also deemed to be a carcinogen.

BPA, known as Bisphenol A is a common chemical in plastic and present in many household products. Being lipophilic (fat-seeking) when heated can leach into food products, relating to the major concerns about heated plastic bottles and containers. There have been major links to BPA exposure and breast and prostate cancers.

GMOs or genetically modified organisms are a result of genetic engineering. Through inserting genes from one species into another they gain certain desired traits, such as make plants more resilient to pesticides or disease. Although research about links of GMO and cancer are still inconclusive, avoiding them are best and here are some ways of doing so: (keeping in mind this is more targeted to the west)

  • Knowing what are the most commonly modified crops. Some of which include – corn, cottonseed oil, canola oil, papaya, soybeans, squash and zucchini.
  • Only buy grass-fed meats as most animals including farmed fish are on diets of genetically modified corn or alfalfa.
  • READ THE LABELS! – Top two GMO crops being corn and soy, avoid foods that contain corn syrup and soy lecithin.
  • Buy non-GM or GMO free-labeled brands.
  • Shop at local farmers markets.
  • Stick to the dirty dozen and clean fifteen list when buying fruits and vegetables.
  • Useful website http://www.nongmoproject.org/find-non-gmo/search-participating-products/
  1. Smoking

It’s a widely known fact that tobacco is a well-classified carcinogen and smoking is the largest single cause of death from cancer accounting to 30% of all cancer cases. Need we say more?

  1. Viruses

Viruses can cause genetic changes in cells that increase the risk of cancer. Commonly known as:

  • HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)
  • Hepatitis B and C viruses
  • Epstein-Barr Virus
  • Human T Cell Leukemia Virus

Infection increases the risk of getting a cancer such as HPV infection and cervical cancer however there are also many women who get high risk HPV infection but don’t develop cervical cancer.

  1. Radiation

Radiation is another big contributor towards increasing your risk to cancer, such as Ultraviolet Radiation from sun exposure. UVB rays are the most harmful however it must be noted that the sun exposure is a fantastic way of getting Vitamin D and can be done in a safe manner. It is necessary to take precautionary measures such as choosing not to be in the sun during the afternoon and using only natural sunscreen at all times. Other radioactive frequencies to be aware of are microwaves, x-rays and cellular phones.

  1. Weight

Being overweight or obese has been linked to cancer and are said to cause 15% – 20% of all cancer related deaths every year. The reasons to why weight issues increase risks of cancer are due to the fact that people who carry more weight than needed have more fat tissue, which can produce hormones (insulin or estrogen) causing cancer cells to grow.

Prevention Protocols

There are many pre-screening detection tests for cancer, such a Pap Smear, Colonoscopy, Mammogram and so on.

Moreover, it is essential for adult women of all ages to perform a self-breast examination at least once a month. Not only is it a quick and easy procedure but can also help you become familiar with how your breasts look and feel in order to detect any abnormalities. Self-breast examinations are necessities however we often ignore the repeated reminders and this is mainly due to the fact that many women don’t really know how to perform one. Below is a link to a step-by-step guide to perform a self-breast examination from Breastcancer.org.

http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam/bse_steps

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