Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. It is the second leading cause of death in the US.
Anyone can get cancer, but some of us are more innate to getting it because of gene mutations.
So what causes Cancer? According to the American Cancer Society, the substances that cause cancer are called carcinogens. A carcinogen may be a chemical substance, such as certain molecules in tobacco smoke. The cause of cancer may be environmental agents, viral or genetic factors.
They roughly divide cancer risk factors into the following groups:
- biological or internal factors, such as age, gender, inherited genetic defects and skin type
- environmental exposure, for instance to radon and UV radiation, and fine particulate matter
- occupational risk factors, including carcinogens such as many chemicals, radioactive materials and asbestos
- lifestyle-related factors
Lifestyle-related factors that cause cancer include:
- UV radiation in sunlight
- Food-related factors, such as nitrites and poly aromatic hydrocarbons (generated by barbecuing food).
- Chronic inflammation
- Lack of exercise
Cancer causing factors related to work and living environments include:
- asbestos fibres
- tar and pitch
- polynuclear hydrocarbons (e.g. benzopyrene)
- Some metal compounds
- Some plastic chemicals (e.g. Vinyl chloride)
Bacteria and viruses can cause cancer:
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori, which causes gastritis)
- HBV, HCV (hepatitis viruses that cause hepatitis)
- HPV (human papilloma virus, papilloma virus, which causes changes eg. Cervical cells)
- EBV (Epstein-Barr virus, the herpes virus that causes inflammation of the throat lymphoid)
Radiation can cause cancer:
- ionising radiation (e.g. X-ray/MRI radiation, soil radon…)
- non-ionised radiation (the sun’s ultraviolet radiation)
Some drugs may increase the risk of cancer:
- certain antineoplastic agents
- certain hormones
- medicines that cause immune deficiency
In 5 – 10 per cent of breast cancer, genetic predisposition plays an important role in the emergence of the disease.
I do know what we put in our mouths is the number one thing we can do to prevent cancer and other diseases. I recently read the book The Longevity Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry. I highly recommend this book.