Most People Still Don’t Understand What Causes Cancer

Americans Don't Know Cancer Risks

Americans Don’t Know Cancer Risks

A new survey published by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) suggests that most Americans don’t understand what causes cancer. Most Americans blame things like genetically modified foods, stress and food additives for causing cancer and don’t understand the steps they can take to minimize cancer risk.

Instead of worrying about food additives and GMOs potentially causing cancer, Americans should be looking at:

  • A lack of exercise
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco consumption
  • Exposure to carcinogenic chemicals at work
  • Obesity
  • Poor quality diets

The survey was conducted by the AICR to mark world cancer day (February 4).

The survey revealed that many Americans think the things that cause cancer are beyond their control — genetics, family history. However, cancers cause by genetics only account for 1 in 5 cancers. Most are related to chemical exposure and lifestyle habits.

According to the survey most people believed genetics played a much more important role in determining if they would cancer than anything else. The reality is that exercise and diet play a far more important role in preventing cancer.

The AICR wants to stress that Americans should focus on the lifestyle factors that they can control, instead of the less common genetic factors.

Cancer remains the second highest cause of death globally. In the past few decades, cancer death rates have declined thanks to improved medical technologies and medicines. Unfortunately the growing obesity epidemic has seen the rates of some cancers increase in developed countries.

Lifestyle Factors Increasingly to Blame for Cancer

Excessive Eating and Cancer

Excessive Eating and Cancer

New figures from Cancer UK have revealed how many cancers are a result of lifestyle factors. In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that as many as 4 in 10 cancers are a result of lifestyle choices. Cancers in more than 600,000 people could be avoided if people were healthier and avoided behaviours that increase cancer risk.

Smoking is the most prevalent lifestyle choice that increases cancer risk. The obesity epidemic and unhealthy eating is also largely responsible for the number of cancers within the UK.

Excessive alcohol consumption is also known to increase risk and can increase cancer risk from tobacco consumption.

Researchers recommend that people maintain healthy weight, stop smoking, limit alcohol consumption and take part in regular exercise. Moderating sun exposure is also a good idea for reducing cancer risk.

Processed food also increases the risk of cancer, with researchers indicating almost 150,000 cancer cases were a result of unhealthy eating. Obesity contributed to nearly 90,000 cases of cancer.

Researchers encourage people to take a hard look at their lifestyle choices. To maintain good health and lead a long life, they recommend limiting excess and getting healthy.

Huge Obesity Related Cancer Numbers

Obesity and Cancer

Obesity and Cancer

There is a well known link between obesity and increased cancer risk, particularly with breast cancer. New research has highlighted the astonishing figures associated with cancer promoted by obesity.

The study looked at the body mass index of people from 184 countries in 2002 and contrasted it with cancer rates for those people in 2012. The researchers focussed on cancers which are linked to obesity — breast cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer. They estimate that 3.6 percent of cancer cases were caused by obesity. If you take that percentage and extrapolate it to global cancer statistics, you are looking at as much as half a million cancer cases triggered by obesity, each year.

Women are more likely to get cancer if they are obese, with 5.4 percent of women presenting with cancers caused by obesity. The United States has the highest rate of obesity related cancers, with over 100,000 in 2012. Postmenopausal breast cancers and some uterine cancers are very closely tied to obesity, which explains the higher percentage for women.

Researchers partially understand why obesity causes cancer. Obesity creates various unusual actions within the human body, including an overload of certain hormones. Those hormones can contribute to cancer, particularly breast cancer. One of those hormones is insulin-like growth factor 1, which has been linked to pancreatic cancer.

Doctors recommend a healthy diet and exercise to reduce your risk of getting cancer.

Link Between Cancer and Obesity Examined

Obesity and Cancer

Obesity and Cancer

A new study has reaffirmed the link between obesity and cancer.

The study, published in the Lancet Journal, reaffirms that a high body-mass index of 25 kg/m2 or greater is associated with increased risk of cancer. Researchers believe that in 2012 nearly 500,000 cases of cancer were attributable to high BMI around the world. The vast majority of these obesity related cancers occur in the United States and Europe, because of the higher levels of obesity found in those locations.

Women were more likely to be affected by cancer relating to obesity, particularly breast cancer. The most common forms of cancer caused by obesity were corpus uteri, postmenopausal breast, and colon cancers. These forms accounted for 63·6% of cancers and are attributable to high BMI.

The research looked at cancer rates in over 184 countries and found that obesity was associated with 5.4 percent of cancer in women and 1.9 percent in men during 2012. Those percentages are higher in developed countries with excess weight causing 8 percent of cancers in women and 3 percent in men.

The cancer rates were lowest in parts of Africa, due to lower calorie intake.

According to the researchers:

These findings emphasise the need for a global effort to abate the increasing numbers of people with high BMI. Assuming that the association between high BMI and cancer is causal, the continuation of current patterns of population weight gain will lead to continuing increases in the future burden of cancer.

Sitting and Cancer Risk

How Sitting Increases Cancer Risk

How Sitting Increases Cancer Risk

Modern man spends a lot of time sitting down, either while relaxing or at work.  Some jobs involve long stretches of sitting down at a desk with little physical activity.  Many people have recreational activities that also involve a lot of sitting — like watching television or using the Internet.

Researchers are just starting to understand the health ramifications of sitting down for many hours each day.  Unfortunately it’s not good news, with a number of serious health risks associated with sitting.  This article will out line some of the recent research into sedentary behavior and the health problems associated with it.

Cardiovascular Health

One research paper looked at the effect of sedentary behavior on rodents.  One group of mice were allowed to perform exercise on gym equipment while the other were not.  Researchers found that the mice who did not undertake exercise had structural changes in the neurons in their brains.  Those neurons were responsible for regulating cardiovascular function.  It is thought that the changes to these neurons contribute to  cardiovascular disease (Mischel NA, Llewellyn-Smith IJ, Mueller PJ, 2014).

Cancer Risk

In a meta-analysis of 43 observational studies involving more than 4 million people, it was found that sedentary behavior greatly increased cancer risk (Schmid D,Leitzmann MF, 2014).  Researchers found that the risk of lung, colon and endometrial cancers was significantly increased by sedentary behavior.  The more a person sat down, the more their cancer risk increased.  For every 2 hours of sedentary activity per day, lung cancer risk increased by 6%, colon cancer risk increased by 8% and endometrial cancer risk increased by 10%.

The Canadian cancer society suggests that the health impacts of sedentary behavior create other problems that lead to cancer (Cancer.ca, 2014).  For example, most people who spend long periods sitting down gain weight.  That weight gain can substantially increase the chances of getting cancer (Cancer.gov, 2014). 

Sedentary behavior changes hormone levels which can also lead to some forms of cancer (Lynch BM, 2010).  Sex hormones estrogen and androgen increase, which is linked to breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.  Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) levels decrease because of inactivity.  The decrease in SHBG is thought to play a role in breast cancer (Moore JW, Key TJ, Bulbrook RD, Clark GM, Allen DS, Wang DY, Pike MC, 1987).

Diabetes

The less active you are, the more likely it is that you will have high blood sugar, increased insulin levels and eventually insulin resistance.  Some research has even indicated that regular exercise might not be enough to shield you from diabetes, if you spend a lot of time sitting down (Endocrineweb.com, 2011). 

The production of enzymes that burn fat also drastically slow when you are sitting. One study found that there were 90% less fat burning enzymes in people sitting for an hour or more (NYTimes, 2012).  Your metabolism also slows while sitting, potentially leading to weight gain and obesity.    

Brain Function

Research has shown that the human brain performs better if it has a supply of fresh oxygenated blood (MedicalNewsToday, 2014).  While sitting, your body is at rest and there is less fresh blood and oxygen reaching your brain.

One study demonstrated that people have better neuronal function within the brain while standing, as opposed to sitting (Ouchi Y, Okada H, Yoshikawa E, Nobezawa S, Futatsubashi M, 1998).  Put simply, your brain is more alert when you are in standing instead of sitting.

Muscle and Bone Degeneration

Sitting down for long periods can lead to muscular degeneration, because you aren’t using many muscle groups while in that position.  Your abdominal and back muscles are essentially unused while seated, worsening any back problems you may have.  You leg muscles are mostly unused in the position also, leading to muscle loss there.     

One study noticed that people who spent many hours sitting had a greater risk of  osteoporotic hip fracture (Weiss M, Yogev R, Dolev E, 1998).  This was due to low mineral density in the bones of people who spent a great deal of time sitting. 

Sitting can also damage your posture and can change the natural curve of your spine (Mashable, 2012).  Slipped discs are a common injury in people who spend a great deal of time seated.  Some doctors suggest people should only be seated for a maximum of 20 minutes, to avoid back damage.

The research is clear — prolonged sitting can have a negative health impact which can shave years off your life.  For people who are sitting all day, then going home for more sedentary activity like watching television, the problem is even worse.  To enjoy a healthy life and avoid some particularly nasty health issues, stand as much as possible and keep moving!    

Sources

Cancer.ca (2014). Sedentary behavior.  cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/what-is-a-risk-factor/sedentary-behaviour/?region=on

Cancer.gov (2014). Obesity and Cancer Risk.  cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/obesity

Endocrineweb.com (2011).  Sedentary lifestyles connected to type 2 diabetes.  endocrineweb.com/news/type-2-diabetes/6750-sedentary-lifestyles-connected-type-2-diabetes

Lynch BM, (2010).  Sedentary Behavior and Cancer: A Systematic Review of the Literature and Proposed Biological Mechanisms.  cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/19/11/2691.full

Mashable (2012).  Why Sitting Too Much Is Dangerous.  mashable.com/2012/06/18/too-much-sitting/

MedicalNewsToday (2014).  Sedentary behavior ‘may counteract brain benefits of exercise in older adults’.  medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282745.php

Mischel NA, Llewellyn-Smith IJ, Mueller PJ (2014). Physical (in)activity-dependent structural plasticity in bulbospinal catecholaminergic neurons of rat rostral ventrolateral medulla.  ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24114875

Moore JW, Key TJ, Bulbrook RD, Clark GM, Allen DS, Wang DY, Pike MC (1987).  Sex hormone binding globulin and risk factors for breast cancer in a population of normal women who had never used exogenous sex hormones.  ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2001893/

NYTimes (2012). Taking a Stand for Office Ergonomics.  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/business/stand-up-desks-gaining-favor-in-the-workplace.html?_r=0

Schmid D,Leitzmann MF (2014).  Television Viewing and Time Spent Sedentary in Relation to Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis.  jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/106/7/dju098.full

Ouchi Y, Okada H, Yoshikawa E, Nobezawa S Futatsubashi M (1998).  Brain Activation During Maintenance Of Standing Postures In Humans. brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/122/2/329.full

Weiss M, Yogev R, Dolev E (1998).  Occupational sitting and low hip mineral density.  ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9405733

The Best Ways to Avoid Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer Facts

Prostate Cancer Facts

Prostate Cancer is the second most common form of cancer in American men. The figures around prostate cancer are startling — according to the American Cancer Society, 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2014 and nearly 30,000 men will die from the disease. One in seven men will experience prostate cancer in their lifetime.

It mostly affects older men, with most cases occurring in men over 65. However, some men have been diagnosed as young as 40.

Because of these confronting statistics, many men are looking at how to minimize their prostate cancer risk. Here are the best 6 ways to do so.

Drink Green Tea

Eat a Healthy Diet

Diet plays an incredibly important part in maintaining your health and avoiding cancer.  At it’s simplest, your diet should emphasize fruit, vegetables and fish.  It should limit fats, red meat, dairy foods and processed foods.

Studies have shown that men who eat higher levels of fat have a greater risk of getting prostate cancer.  This is particularly true for the fats found in meat, some oils, nuts and dairy foods.

Fat that is found in plants is much healthier and does not contribute to prostate cancer risk.  The fat found in an avocado for example, does not increase your prostate cancer risk.  Choose olive oil instead of butter to reduce the prostate cancer risk from fat consumption.

Studies have shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will decrease your risk of getting prostate cancer.  These foods are nutrient dense and low in fat.  By eating more natural foods, you will be avoiding the chemicals found in many processed foods, further lowering cancer risk.

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and certain vegetables can lower your prostate cancer risk.  Certain oily fish like tuna and salmon, are higher in Omega-3s.

 Drink Green Tea

 

Some research has shown that green tea has an anti-inflammatory function within the human body and can lower the risk of certain cancers.  Research has found that people who drink large quantities of caffeinated beverages may increase their prostate cancer risk.  So cut down on the coffee and black tea, and replace it with green tea.

Keep Your Weight Under Control

A major risk factor for prostate cancer is obesity.  Men who have a high body mass index are more likely to get prostate cancer.  By keeping your weight under control, you can also avoid other forms of cancer, including colorectal cancer.

Exercise More

There is strong evidence that regular exercise can lower cancer and cardiovascular disease risk.  That is also true for prostate cancer, with research showing regular exercise can reduce your risk.

Drink Less Alcohol

If you have more than 2 standard drinks per day, you “may” be increasing your prostate cancer risk.  Some research indicates increased risk, but the evidence is not entirely compelling.  However, we do know that alcohol intake can increase the risk of colorectal, breast, liver and esophageal cancer.

Have More Sex

Some research indicates that men who have more sex have a lower risk of prostate cancer.  Men who were not in monogamous relationships had a lower risk of aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month!

Exercise to Avoid Cancer

Exercise to Avoid Cancer

Dr Rebecca Moss has written a fantastic article for Slate magazine, aimed at raising awareness for one of the most preventable forms of cancer, colorectal cancer. Dr Moss specializes in gastrointestinal cancers at the research level so has a professional understanding of the cause, symptoms, diagnosis and prognosis of the disease.

Her advice is thorough but can be summarized in a few main points. If you wish to avoid dying from colorectal cancer and want to minimize risk:

  1. Have a colonoscopy when your doctor tells you to so you find tumors and polyps before they become cancerous
  2. Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight!

As Dr Moss points out in the article, unfortunately many Americans are not getting enough exercise. In fact the vast majority of people don’t get enough exercise with only 1 in 5 exercising enough. That is a staggering statistic and of great concern to researchers who know that exercise is a key to avoiding this form of cancer.

Meanwhile plenty of Americans are still taking vitamins and other health supplements in the mistaken belief that it will protect them from cancer.

So exercise is really a massive factor with regular exercise helping to prevent some of the most dangerous diseases that face adults in America – Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease and Colorectal Cancer.

Unfortunately due to the explosion of obesity in the United States, colorectal cancer is a common form of the disease. The article also points out that diabetes increase the risk of colorectal cancer by an astonishing 30%. The horror of these statistics is that these diseases can be avoided with regular exercise and a healthy diet. The diseases are also greatly impacting on aging baby boomers, who having reached retirement age are instead facing horrible health problems because they haven’t been exercising with regularity in the last few decades.

So ladies and gentlemen, takes the doctors advice, get out and about. With exercise you will not only be reducing the risk of diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease, you will also look and feel better. It’s a win/win situation so get off the couch and enjoy a longer and happier life.

Research Finds Cancer Prevention Methods Successful

Cancer Prevention Works!

Cancer Prevention Works!

Most people have heard health specialists repeat simple advice for cancer prevention – watch your weight, eat fresh fruit and vegetables, don’t smoke, don’t drink too much alcohol and get some moderate exercise. Those simple tips can reduce your cancer risk by a great deal for certain types of cancer.

A new study in the United States has confirmed that those simple tips are indeed accurate and worth pursuing if you want to live a longer life with less cancer risk.

In new research from the University of Arizona it was found that older women who had adhered to the cancer prevention guidelines of the American Cancer Society did in fact have lower cancer rates that older women in society. In fact they had less risk of dying from other leading causes of death as well, including heart disease!

The researchers said that the findings lead to a simple but effective message – if you want to reduce the risk of cancer, limit or avoid alcohol, don’t smoke, be active every day, eat a balanced diet low in processed foods. The American Cancer Society guidelines have been found to be very helpful in cancer prevention.

The full American Cancer Society guidelines can be found here: http://www.cancer.org/healthy/index?sitearea=ped

Diet is especially important for specific cancers such as bowel cancer. The guidelines suggest not only enjoying a variety of fruits and vegetables, but also limiting red meat consumption, avoiding processed foods in general, avoiding foods with lots of chemical additives, eating whole grains instead of processed grains (brown bread instead of white, brown rice instead white etc). If your family has a history of that kind of cancer, then following the dietary elements might be especially beneficial.

Many people are also unsure about how much exercise is enough. As it turns out you don’t need to do that much at all to prevent cancer with the guidelines suggesting as little as half an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise 5 times a week being adequate. That could be a brisk walk or light jog every weekday afternoon and you will not only be feeling and looking great, but reducing your cancer risk.

Women who followed the guidelines had a 17% lower risk of developing cancer and a 20% lower risk of dying from cancer according to the research. Additionally they had a 27% lower risk of dying from any cause! So that’s a great additional benefit. The guidleines are extremely effective for certain kinds of cancer chiefly colorectal cancer which saw a 52% reduced risk from following the guidelines. Women saw a 22% lower risk of developing breast cancer.

Women of certain racial groups benefited more from the guidelines with black and Hispanic women benefiting the most.

The best part of the American Society Guidelines is that by following them you will also have great general health, you will feel healthier and you will look healthier. It’s a win-win situation!

How Does Meditation Help Cancer Patients?

Yoga To Treat Cancer

Yoga To Treat Cancer

Scientific tests demonstrate that using meditation is a great supplementary treatment method in the struggle against cancer. Not only does it decrease discomfort and improve your mood, but in addition data suggests that it improves immunity and possibly improves prognosis. This is most likely due to the effect on the autonomic neurological system.

The autonomic nervous system is in charge of unconscious activities which include respiration, perspiration, heartbeat, and digestive function. The autonomic nervous system will serve two main kinds of operations. One of those, the sympathetic nervous system, prepares the entire body for emergency situations by boosting heart rate and restraining the flow of blood. The other portion, known as the parasympathetic nervous system, slows heart rate, raises blood flow, and lets out beneficial enzymes for digestion.

Research shows that using meditation lowers toxic cortisol concentrations and improves the discharge of beneficial endorphins into the system. It also improves the level of activity in the sectors of the brain connected with favorable emotions and compassion.

So how can individuals figure out how to meditate? There are several types of meditation. If you are coping with cancer, there are many solutions. A lot of people really like learning from meditation or Yoga educators in private or public training. Those who wish to train with other people that are fighting cancer may choose specialised classes provided by many healthcare facilities. For individuals who want to meditate at your home or alone, these techniques are excellent choices:

– Well guided meditations can be found as both internet downloads and CDs, and a few were created specifically for cancer affected individuals.

– Breathing consciousness meditation can bring the focus inward, returning focus to every breath if your mind wanders.

– Moving meditations, like Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong, offer active options for restless enthusiasts. They also prepare the body and mind for other kinds of meditation.

– Mantra meditation targets particular vibrations or phrases, such as the “AUM” tone or a mindfulness affirmation, such as: “May I be at peace.”

The requirement for Yoga and meditation in oncology departments is growing. Because study shows the main advantages of meditation for the managing and healing of cancer, its practice will likely become a part of standard health care. You never know where the future will lead us. Meditation is part of every Yoga teachers exercise program. Possibly meditation has been under appreciated, but its future as an adjunct treatment method seems very good.