It’s very likely that you know someone who has been afflicted with cancer. Your dear grandparents, your beloved teacher, your parents, or maybe even your partner have battled with this disease one way or another. Have you stopped and asked yourself why and how they had it in the first place?
Perhaps you’ve read a myriad of medical journals only to be more confused rather than informed. The situation doesn’t make sense. Our society gains more and more technological advancements, yet more and more people in the world still get hit with cancer.
It seems we would be doing better by now, doesn’t it? In reality, there are many factors as to why and how we get cancer.
For starters, we are made up of trillions of cells. On a daily basis, our bodies produce new cells to replace old or damaged cells. Sometimes, a cell’s DNA becomes damaged and this causes abnormal cellular growth. Luckily our immune system can control a small number of abnormal cells from further damaging our bodies. Cancer occurs when there are more abnormal cells than the immune system is capable of handling. Instead of dying, these abnormal cells tend to expand and develop, most often building up in the form of tumors.
It’s hard to pinpoint what causes these tumors but observational studies have frequently shown that high consumption of certain foods may increase the risk of developing cancer.
Food Makes a Difference
Processed foods high in sugar and low in both fiber and nutrients have been associated with a higher risk of cancer. Higher blood glucose and insulin levels are considered to be cancer risk factors. Insulin has been shown to induce cell division, encourage the growth and spread of cancer cells and make it more difficult to remove them.
This may explain why people with diabetes are at higher risk for some forms of cancer.
Other studies have shown a link between the consumption of processed meat and an increased risk of cancer, especially colorectal cancer.
A broad review of studies showed that people who eat huge amounts of processed meat had a 20–50% increased risk of colorectal cancer compared to those who ate very little to none of this type.
A further analysis of more than 800 studies showed that eating just 50 grams of processed meat per day — about four slices of bacon or one hot dog — increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
There is still a lot we don’t know about cancer. Here are some other facts that might be new:
Breast cancer is more common in the left breast than in the right.
The left breast is 5-10% more prone to developing cancer than the right breast. The left side of the body is also 10% more prone to melanoma (a type of skin cancer). No one is quite certain why this is.
About 5-10 percent of all cancers are fully inherited
Most cancers grow from a combination of genetic and environmental factors, including smoking, alcohol, hypertension and diet.
There are more than 200 variations of cancer
Cancer is not a one-type disease. In the last 10 years, researchers have found that there are more than 200 various types and subtypes of cancer. This prompted a shift away from a one-size-fits-all approach to "tailored therapy."
More than half of all cancers are preventable
Experts say that more than half of all cancer cases and up to half of all cancer deaths are preventable. This means that there are between 2.4 million and 3.7 million preventable deaths per year, 80% of which occur in low-and middle-income countries.
There are 28 million cancer survivors around the world
Thankfully, cancer is not always a death sentence – especially with the progress made in recent decades. Although the incidence of cancer is growing, more people are surviving cancer than ever before in many countries.
Yes, these 28 million cancer survivors are a testament to how we can overcome such a health dilemma.
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Discover actionable information from many of the world's top, most knowledgeable cancer and health experts.