Cancer & Inflammation

We do not think cancer will happen to us. Nevertheless, the statistics say that 1 in 3 people will deal with a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, while approximately 1 in 4 will die of the disease. The two leading cancers in women are good examples, breast and lung. In 2007, two hundred thousand women received a breast cancer diagnosis, and forty thousand died of the disease. Meanwhile, ninety thousand women got a lung cancer diagnosis in 2007, of which seventy thousand died of the disease.

There is legitimate fear about receiving a cancer diagnosis. Yet, it does us no good to become overwhelmed by the fear – in fact, it is counterproductive. Education with solid information about how cancer comes to exist, persist, and spread itself can help to balance our perspective.

An important concept in cancer biology is called “systemic inflammation.” In the last decade or so, it’s become evident how important chronic inflammation is in our understanding of cancer.

Stepping on a rusty nail engages our immune system to heal the injury. White blood cells and other immune cells go to the injury site and secrete chemicals & proteins. These chemicals do things such as kill bacteria, increase circulation, stimulate new cell growth and create new blood supplies – a process call angiogenesis. New cells that grow at the site of the wound require a blood supply. This is all part of a healthy inflammatory response.

When the immune system works overtime a state of chronic inflammation is the result. This can be due to the chronic stress of a challenging marriage, work stress or other ongoing stressors. These kinds of circumstances can weaken our immune system so that chronic inflammation becomes the norm. Chronic inflammation is often happening in the background unbeknownst to us – without any apparent disease or symptoms. This state sets the stage for cancer and other chronic diseases.

Cancerous cells always exist in our bodies. Due to the trillions of processes going on, there are genetic mistakes that occur resulting in mutated and cancerous cells. This is normal. When the immune system is on track, cancerous cells are kept to a minimum. When our bodies are in a state of chronic inflammation, however, the immune system can act as an ally to these mutated cells.

When the inflammatory process creates proteins that stimulate new cell growth, it also stimulates angiogenesis, providing a fresh blood supply for growing cancer cells. There are many ways in which cancer uses and depends upon systemic inflammation. Science shows that this particular process is one of the primary ways that cancer gets a foothold and develops into disease. Inflammation provides a rich environment enabling cancer cell survival and proliferation. Conversely, it is our own bodies – and specifically our immune system – that keeps systemic inflammation at bay – effectively preventing cancer in the first place.

Targeting inflammation is an important objective in weakening and even killing cancer cells. We can’t turn the inflammatory process off – nor would we want to. Cancer cells grow quickly and require many resources. Inflammation provides many essential resources to cancer cells. This is why reducing inflammation is a vital step in treating cancer.

Thankfully, there are many natural methods shown to reduce systemic inflammation. The primary methods are diet and lifestyle changes. There are hundreds of studies documenting how even modest increases in vegetables, fruits, nuts, & seeds can reduce cancer and inflammation directly as well as most chronic disease. Diet and lifestyle changes remain the only proven method to reduce the probability that cancer can develop.

Science has arrived at this conclusion through juxtaposing people with a healthier diet against those on the SAD diet (Standard American Diet). Studies have shown that dietary factors are vital in turning the tide. It can also plainly be seen that diet (one rich in whole, unprocessed foods) is what kept cancer numbers so much lower in indigenous populations. Therefore, by adopting simpler less processed diets, we can both prevent and treat cancer.

Numerous natural approaches can weaken cancer’s grip. Cancer, once it’s begun to spread, can be virulent. Therefore, diet changes alone are often insufficient. Alternative cancer treatment requires a comprehensive approach with many goals: killing cancer cells, reducing inflammation, inhibiting angiogenesis, and enhancing immune function.

For instance, there are a number of foods that have chemicals that are anti-angiogenic. Red raspberries are just one — they contain ellagic acid one of the most powerful inhibitors of angiogenesis. This is important because without an adequate blood supply, young spreading cancer cells die. Of course, raspberries alone are not a stand-alone cancer treatment. But it is one example amongst many of how natural foods often contain powerful substances that aid us in keeping cancer at bay.

There is much more crucial information to learn about cancer. My hope is that this article inspires people to learn more. In addition, this website will list dates and times (this coming spring) when I’m presenting in the Portland community with more detail about alt-med cancer approaches.

Many fear that genetics determine whether we get cancer or not. Thankfully, more and more studies confirm that diet and lifestyle are the final arbiters. This is empowering news. It means we can do something to help ourselves and our loved ones. There are many natural treatments and approaches that can help our bodies prevent and reverse cancer. Empowering ourselves with knowledge can be our best defense.

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