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.

Red Meat and Cancer Risk

Red meat cancer risk

Red meat cancer risk

A number of studies have suggested that red meat can play a role in the development of certain cancers. The largest study to provide evidence of the red meat-cancer link involved 478,000 men and women in Europe. It found that eating more than 5 ounces of red meat per day could raise your colon cancer risk by approximately a third, when compared to those who ate the least red meat.

The consumption of chicken did not appear to alter the colon cancer risk and eating fish actually lowered colon cancer risk.

The other substantial study involved nearly 150,000 Americans between the ages of 50 and 74. It found that a diet heavy in red and processed meats increased cancer risk of the colon and rectum. Eating fish and poultry appeared to protect individuals from these forms of cancer. Other studies have sugested that red meat can increase colon cancer risk by between 20% and 28%.

Red meat consumption is also believed to increase the risk of other cancers, including breast, prostate, lung and ovarian cancers.

Why does red meat increase cancer risk?

The conventional thought in recent years was that the act of grilling red meat created various carcinogens. However, new research at UC San Diego has highlighted at alternative theory. Researchers believe that the risk of cancer is increased because red meat contains a substance that is not found in the human body. This substance (called Neu5Gc), increases inflammation which can result in higher cancer risk.

Researchers established the interactions of this chemical by using mice, genetically engineered to not produce it internally. When this foreign chemical integrated with tissue, it triggered a reaction from the immune system and increased inflammation.

Interestingly, the inflammation and cancer risk from this chemical only occurs in humans, which is why researchers had to use genetically modified mice in their tests.

The inflammation from this chemical may also help other forms of cancer take hold within the body. For example, a smoker might be at greater risk of getting lung cancer if they eat a lot of red meat.

Researchers don’t suggest we should stop eating red meat, but simply eat it in moderation. It contains high levels of iron and protein, which benefit the human body. The senior author of the paper, Dr Varki, suggests that red meat consumption for people under 40 years of age is less of a problem. As people get older and their cancer risk increases, the inflammation presents a large threat.

If you decide to continue eating meat, researchers suggest having 3-4 ounce servings 1-3 times a week should present no substantial increase in cancer risk. Interestingly, the lead researcher only eats chicken and fish!

Neu5Gc is a type sugar molecule, referred to as a sialic acid. Researchers believe that sialic acids can affect many parts of the body, causing inflammation, altering brain development and affecting the immune system. It is believed that some diseases make use of sialic acids to hide themselves from the immune system.

The reason that fish and chicken do not carry the same inflammation risk, is that for the most part, they do not carry nonhuman sialic acids like Neu5Gc. The fish that do carry it, carry small amounts. Fish in particular carries properties than can reduce cancer risk, like high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids.

The next step is to find a medication which is capable of helping the body deal with the chemical and prevent the inflammation. These research findings could eventually help lower cancer rates in countries where red meat consumption is very high — like the United States.

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.

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.

High Protein Diet Cancer Link?

High Protein Diets and Cancer Risk

High Protein Diets and Cancer Risk

A recent study has had some alarming findings with high protein diets linked to increased cancer risk. The study found that a high protein diet might have a harmful effect on health and found that high protein diets increase cancer risk as much as smoking cigarettes.

High levels of dietary animal protein in people under 65 years of age was linked to a fourfold increase in their risk of death from cancer and twice the risk of diabetes. Nutrition experts have however cautioned people from changing their diets until further studies have been conducted into the animal-protein cancer link.

Interestingly, the increased cancer risk was did not occur to the same extent when the additional protein came from plant sources instead of animals.

In general the study points to middle aged people who consume a lot of animal protein dying younger from cancer and other diseases. Individuals who consumed a diet high in plant protein had less risk of cancer than those on animal protein. Individuals who consumed a diet which was not high in protein had the least cancer risk.

But the findings became even more complex when it was noticed that the high protein diet in old age had better health. That means this research found that in adults should maintain a low protein diet, which avoided animal protein, until they reached old age and then a diet high in protein would actually be beneficial!

This is because when people reach old age they lose muscle density and can become frail. A high protein diet helps combat that effect and preserve overall health. In people over 65, a high-protein diet cut the risk of death from any cause by 28%, and additionally reduced cancer deaths by 60%.

The research came from a pool of 6,381 people aged 50 and over who were a part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in the United States.

This study may have some ramifications on the recently popular Atkins and Paleo diets which are very high in protein. According to researchers, individuals should restrict themselves to no more than 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight per day. So the average 80kg male should be consuming no more 64 grams of protein per day.

Most of protein should also come from plant sources, so legumes, mushrooms and vegetables. According to the study, consuming large amounts of animal protein can be very dangerous to your health so it is worth examining how much animal protein you are taking in.

On average, survey participants consumed 1,823 calories a day, which included 51% carbohydrates, 33% fat, and 16% from protein. On average, about 10% of their total calorie consumption was animal protein. Researchers suggested that people who consumed “high protein” diets were eating diets with 20% or more protein. Midrange was considered 10-19% and low was below 10%.

There are possible problems with this study which might throw off the results. For example do lifestyle factors of various demographics play a role? Vegetarians would have diets low in animal protein but they may also be more inclined to be more health conscious and exercise more often than someone who has a diet high in animal protein including hamburgers and hotdogs. In this case the vegetarian is more likely to be physically fit, not overweight and therefore less likely to have certain types of cancer (colorectal). Lifestyle factors like that could throw the results of the study off slightly.

For that reason nutritional experts like Peter Emery, head of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College London says: “I would urge general caution over observational studies, and particularly when looking at diet, given the difficulties of disentangling one nutrient or dietary component from another. You can get an association that might have some causal linkage or might not”

In a follow up study into the role that protein plays in the formation of cancer, researchers found that levels of a growth hormone called IGF-1 rose and fell in line with protein intake. The increase in this growth hormone might in fact be linked with cancer risk. Tests in mice have also shown that high protein diets leads to increased cancer risk and large tumors.

Do Vitamins Help Reduce Cancer Risk?

Vitamins & Cancer Prevention

Vitamins & Cancer Prevention

It is a commonly held belief by most people that taking vitamins will not only keep you healthy, but it may help prevent cancer and heart disease. That belief is often developed by manufacturers who make claims about anti-oxidants in their products helping to prevent cancer and maintain overall health.

Well according to a government panel of health experts, there is not sufficient evidence to suggest that taking additional vitamins will reduce your cancer risk. Surprisingly, there is even some evidence that taking the wrong vitamins can actually increase cancer risk!

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released it’s findings this week, gathered from numerous clinical trials and dozens of studies. The results have been published in full in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

In the United States, over 45% of adults take vitamins everyday, some with the belief that they are lowering their cancer risk. A third of Americans take a multivitamin most days.

Why did multivitamin companies market some of their products as cancer preventatives? Because on first glance it appears that they are. In the laboratory, research on animals and in laboratory dishes suggest that oxidative stress contributes to cancer and heart disease. So logically vitamins that are antioxidants like (for example vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A), could be useful to prevent oxidative stress and therefore reduce your chances of getting cancer.

However researchers looked at the actual instances of cancer and the people who were taking multivitamins and did not see a correlation. Mineral supplements, multivitamins, individual vitamins like vitamin E, all failed to show a decreased risk of cancer. They also failed to demonstrate the vitamins and minerals could reduce the risk of heart disease in normal people.

The worst part is some of the vitamins could be increasing cancer risk! The panel found that there was some evidence that people who have an elevated risk for lung cancer may be further increasing their risk by taking beta-carotene supplements (a vitamin A precursor). Those with an increased risk for lung cancer would be smokers and people exposed to environmental hazards like asbestos.

So if anything, smokers should be avoiding beta-carotene as there is no benefit in terms of preventing cancer and heart disease, but there is increased lung cancer risk.

Keep in mind that even if multivitamins do not play a direct role in prevention of cancer, there is still some evidence that they help some people maintain good overall health. Particularly people who do not receive adequate vitamins and minerals from their diet. That would include pregnant women, elderly people, people who are ill, who may need extra vitamins for their overall health.

So while the effect of multivitamins in relatively healthy people may not have a preventative role for cancer, they may still be important for people not receiving sufficient nutrients and you should continue to take them if that is the case with you.

There is still plenty of evidence which indicates that diet plays a crucial role in the prevention of certain types of cancer, so by maintaining a healthy diet you will be lowering your cancer risk. These new findings simply mean multivitamins shouldn’t be considered necessary to reduce cancer risk and should only be taken if you are concerned you are not getting sufficient nutrients from your diet.

The best tools for fighting Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer Risk Reduction

Prostate Cancer Risk Reduction

Prostate Cancer is one form of cancer that is being increasingly diagnosed in older males, with diagnosis rates doubling between 1998-2008 in many western countries. One of the reasons for this is that men are living longer now, and the cancer often appears in older men. Decades ago many men would be more likely to die from another cause before prostate cancer became a life threatening illness. However now that people are living longer it is becoming a more prominent and dangerous disease.

Quite simply, the older you get, the more likely you are to get prostate cancer. Given that modern medicine means that most men are going to live to a much older age than 50 years ago, it is now more likely to be a life threatening problem for the average male. The rate of diagnosis of prostate cancer is expected to grow substantially by 2020 as more older males encounter this problem.

The good news is that simple dietary changes and lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of prostate cancer and/or delay it’s onset. Early detection is also key to surviving prostate cancer, just like most other cancers – the earlier you detect the cancer, the greater your chance of survival.

One simple way to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, or delay it’s appearance is to take vitamin supplements. Everyone should take a multivitamin every day as a general rule, but some particular vitamins have been found to have a preventative or delaying effect on prostate cancer. Folate is one of the supplements which may have a preventative effect on prostate cancer, so if that form of cancer is of particular concern, you should talk to your doctor about starting on folate.

Experts are unsure about the role of diet on the appearance of prostate cancer, but we do know that a healthy balanced diet with a range of fruits, vegetables and whole grains definitely reduces the risk of other cancers. So there is no harm in watching your diet, you may be reducing prostate cancer risk, but you are definitely reducing bowel cancer risk. A healthy diet full of flavonoids and antioxidants will reduce cancer risk and help you live a long and enjoyable life.

Watching your diet also includes limiting refined sugar, so that means reducing or eliminating sugar dense sodas and foods from your diet. Various pieces of research into prostate cancer have come to different conclusions about the role of diet, but limiting sugar helps reduce your weight to a healthy level. Given that obesity is a risk factor not only for some cancers, but for heart disease, it is a good step for your health. Stevia is a good sugar replacement for when you really have a craving, but dark chocolate is also a great replacement for other junk foods. Many people have also reported using honey to cure that craving for something sweet.

You could also increase your daily dose of phytoestrogen, which studies have shown might be useful for reducing prostate cancer risk. Phytoestrogen is found in soy, so consuming soy milk will help increase your level. Be sure to choose an organic soy milk which has not been heavily processed. The study found:

These results are suggestive of a possible relationship between phytoestrogen intake and prostate cancer risk. Larger comprehensive studies are needed to further refine the role of phytoestrogen intake in prostate cancer risk.

Increasing your intake of lignan rich foods like flaxseed could also help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Research has shown that lignans may be able to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and the low prostate cancer rates in China and Japanese men points to the role of diet here.

Vitamin D may be of use for men interested in maintaining good health and reducing the risk of cancer in general. Whilst there is no direct evidence that the vitamin can reduce risk of getting prostate cancer specifically, it can help prevent other cancers and maintain strong bones and muscles. At the very least it can help a patient fight a cancer by keeping their body in better condition.

So while prostate cancer is not one of the easiest cancers to prevent, steps can be taken if you expect to live a long life and want to reduce the prostate cancer risk or delay the cancer appearing. By maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy diet you can reduce cancer risk a great deal.

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:

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!