Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide; it accounted for 7.6 million deaths in 2008. A church friend just passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of late 30s leaving behind 2 young teenage children and a former colleague has just been diagnosed with lymphoma carcinoma.
While this grim reality tells us that life is short and we should live it to the fullest, we can actually take actions to prevent cancer. Before we can do that, we must understand what is the root cause of cancer.
Oxidative stress is the root cause of cancer
The concept of oxidative stress is fully discussed in my earlier post Get Enough Antioxidants To Fight The War Within. Every cell in our body is subjected to oxidative stress by the free radicals produced.
The excessive free radicals near the nucleus of the cell will cause damage and mutation to the genetic material, DNA. Faulty genetic material will then be passed on when new cells are formed making the new cells abnormal. The cells will be busy repairing the damage, but in times of heavy oxidative stress, the repair system is overwhelmed.
This leads to abnormal cell growth that goes out of control, spreading from one part of the body to another. Doctors normally diagnosed cancer in the last stage of its development. By the time the symptoms of cancer are detected, it has already been developing for more than 10-20 years.
How can you prevent cancer?
Now that we understand that cancer development takes place over the years, prevention requires multi-stage process too.
Stage 1 – Reduce the risk
Eliminate or reduce exposure to cancer causing agents (carcinogens):
- Stop smoking – cigarette smoke contains the most potent carcinogens
- Reduce exposure to sunlight – UVA and UVB radiation from the sun is well know carcinogens that cause skin cancer
- Healthy diet – eat a low fat to reduce meal induced oxidative stress from saturated fats
- Beware of other carcinogens and reduce exposure – radiation, pesticides, herbicides, additives, soot, and chemicals
Stage 2 – Maximize body immune system
As we know oxidative stress is the root cause of cancer, boosting the immune system to suppress the damage from oxidative stress will reduce the risk of cancer.
The most basic way of boosting the immune system is to eat according to WHO (World Health Organization) recommendation of 7 portions of fruits and vegetables a day. This will give rise to a high fiber, low fat diet, and high in antioxidants to fight oxidative stress.
Dr. Bruce Ames, a leading cancer researcher interviewed by the Journal of American Medical Association said that people who consumer the least amount of fruits and vegetables have 2 times more risk of cancer as those who eat more.
In my earlier post, Nutrients That Boost Your Immune System, you can learn of some nutrients that can help.
Stage 3 – Empowering the body repair system
Our body is a fantastic biological machine that can operate optimally when properly nourished. Give the body adequate nutrients and it will enable the cells to repair the damages that occurred.
Here are some major classes of antioxidants:
- Vitamins – Vitamin A, E , C and carotenoids are major vitamins needed in the body
- Minerals – Selenium, Zinc and Magnesium are required for immune functions
- Phytochemicals – Antioxidants from plants such as polyphenols, flavonoids, lycopene, lutein. You can get them from many plant extracts such as green tea, grape seed, pomegranate, pine bark and many other plant nutrients.
- Vitamin like antioxidants – Coenzyme Q10, Glutathione
- Antioxidants made by the body – Superoxide dismutase, Catalase, Peroxidase.
You don’t just rely on any one of each of these antioxidants. All of them work together synergistically to boost the body total immune system.
Don’t wait till you have cancer to do this. Start now! Follow these 2 steps and you have a good chance of reducing the risk of cancer.
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