It seems that for the past several years, you can’t turn on the TV or even talk to a small group of friends without the mention of the word “CANCER”. Either there is someone close that you know with cancer or they are making new discoveries regarding the pathology and process of the disease. It is everywhere, it seems, but there are several noteworthy things one can do to prevent or lower the risk of disease.
The whole goal of the field of medicine should be aimed at disease prevention, but unfortunately, most of the time is dedicated to disease management. I feel at times, even as a veterinarian, that if we spent more time with younger patients focusing on good life habits, we would reduce the incidence of disease. This is not done for several reasons, time being one of them, but also we have to keep in mind that profits are not as good for disease prevention as they are for disease management. Cancer is a huge, profit driven force that often times does not take the best interest of the patients into consideration. This is true whether if we are talking about people or animals.
Cancer is a complicated topic, but one has to look much deeper than the obvious problem at hand to find similarities and areas of possible intervention. One major area of focus for the past decade has been the connection between ongoing inflammation, cellular changes, immune dysfunction and cancer development. I have talked many times before about inflammation from the perspective of joint dysfunction and pain, but the scope of the problem goes beyond this topic. We have to keep in mind the concept of cellular function and mitochondrial health, which has been discussed before.
What it is….
Cancer at its essential basics is cellular dysfunction. It is a mutation to some degree that leads to abnormal cellular function which may include changes as to how the cell replicates and dies. In most instances, the cells are altered to the point where they no longer are subject to normal cell death, which allows them increased ability to further mutate, divide and create offspring with their new abilities. Pretty soon, if allowed, these altered cells begin to become the majority instead of the minority, leading to organ malfunction and even tumor development. In many instances, cancer is slow to develop and actually can be present for years before being diagnosed or discovered.
Players in the Game . . .
There are many contributors to cancer development including; genetics, lifestyle, environmental influences and ultimately diet. In Chinese Medical cultures, emotions are often linked to disease and cancer development, due to changes in the movement of energy throughout the body. This energy can accumulate and cause tumors or the energy can be depleted, which impacts cellular function. A study performed many years ago through interviewing human cancer patients actually made the direct link between cancer and emotions. They found that a high percentage of cancer patients reported a major emotional event within the 10 years preceding their diagnosis. Emotions play a major role in our life and fall into the Lifestyle influences in my book. Think of stress in our jobs or our lives in general and the impact on our health. Genetics of course also play a major role, which can impact cellular function from a mechanical point of view. Lifestyle factors can include emotions as well as daily activities that we may partake in that impact our health such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption. Environmental influences include toxin exposure from our environment or even our diet. Dietary factors speak for themselves. Ultimately, we are what we eat and either you aid in disease prevention or provide fuel to speed the process.
What to do??
Many of these factors are under our control, while many are not. The first thing that I did personally, as a cancer patient, was modify my stress levels and increase my exercise. Work related stress, to me, was a huge factor in my disease course and something that could be changed. It was not easy and ultimately led to my change in career focus, but it needed to be done. In some instances, we can decrease our exposure to toxins, while in others we cannot. Lifestyle and diet are controllable on most levels. Genetics factors are difficult to get around, but the outcomes can be potentially modified. The bottom line is that we have a choice, each and every one of us. The question is whether or not if you make those changes? It is not an easy step, but being proactive and seeing things from a prevention standpoint, can make all of the difference. There are no guarantees in life, but I do feel that people that make changes live a longer and healthier life.
Aside from lifestyle, diet and environmental changes…here are my key nutrients to health maintenance. Many of these nutrients impact cellular health or down regulate inflammatory pathways that contribute to a host of clinical diseases.
- Curcumin (solid research on cancer prevention and disease management)
- Medicinal Mushrooms
- Vitamin D3
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Green Tea
- Blueberries, Noni and Bilberry Fruit extracts
- Amino Acids (glutamine, arginine and Pea protein base)
We have to remember that ‘Disease’ by definition is the absence of health. Considering this, it is possible from my perspective to control or reduce many clinical diseases, cancer included, by maintaining a high level of health. Cancer is not a contagious disease and therefore not something we ‘caught’ from another individual. It is self induced, from my perspective, and there fore can be controlled or better managed by seeking health.
Each of us only has one life. We can choose to be a victim or we can choose to be proactive. I choose the proactive route!
All my best,
Tom Schell, D.V.M.