Cancer: Causes and Treatment
Cancer: Causes and Treatment

As cancer rates increase, we need to explore all possible relevant therapies to ensure that the patient is offered the best choices and chances.

Cancer continues to become an ever more prevalent condition across the globe for several reasons. It is, however, possible to prevent or treat this dreaded disease with an integrative approach that incorporates multiple modalities.

CAUSES OF CANCER

There are many potential causes for cancer. Some include:

  • Altered dietary patterns (Western diet)
  • Non-whole food diets
  • Modern agricultural practices leading to altered growth conditions (nutrient loss)
  • New environmental exposures (pesticides, heavy metals and other environmental toxins)
  • Xenoestrogens in the environment that we are exposed to
  • The rise in obesity clearly parallels the rise in cancer incidence
  • An indoor lifestyle with inadequate vitamin D levels
  • Increasingly stressful lifestyles
  • Tobacco and alcohol use
  • Poor lifestyle measures including lack of exercise and lack of relaxation and stress management
  • Increase in electromagnetic radiation

BROUGHT ON OURSELVES

Cancer arises from a change in one single cell. This mutation of the cell’s DNA may be triggered by inherited genetic factors; however, it’s more likely to be caused by external agents brought on by humans themselves.

Food, toxins and radiation

We’re moving away from the traditional, wholesome diet towards a more Westernised menu of processed food that’s high in fat and sugar. The global rise in obesity clearly parallels the rise in cancer incidence, says the WHO. Our modern agricultural practices are leading to altered growing conditions and lower levels of nutrients in our soils. These days, everyone is exposed to a plethora of new environmental toxins, such as pesticides, heavy metals and xenoestrogens, compounds used in plastic and microwaveable goods that have ‘chemically-induced’ estrogenic effects on every living organism. And if that isn’t enough, we continue to bombard our systems with electro-magnetic radiation from wireless internet connections, cellphones and microwaves.

Our poor lifestyle choices are also playing havoc. We’ve definitely moved away from manual work to a more sedentary pace, reducing the amount of exercise we get and opening ourselves to vitamin D deficiency because of more time spent indoors. According to Dr Ahmedin Jemal, director of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Occurrence Office, lifestyle may be another reason for the rise in malignancies in developing countries, as people adopt Western behaviours such as smoking, high-fat diets and less physical activity.

Smoking

Our consumption of alcohol and tobacco is on the increase.

According to Jemal, smoking is still a key culprit. ‘Smoking prevalence is decreasing in developed countries. So, as tobacco companies are losing market in developed countries they are trying to expand their market in developing countries,’ he explains. The tobacco industry predicts a global expansion of the tobacco epidemic in the next few years. The biggest growth is expected to be in Zimbabwe, followed by Côte d’Ivoire, Brazil, Morocco, Venezuela, Pakistan, United Republic of Tanzania and Bangladesh. ‘If these current patterns continue, there will be 2 billion smokers worldwide by the year 2030, half of whom will die of smoking-related diseases if they don’t quit,’ adds Jemal.

Longevity

According to Jemal, the number of cancers and cancer deaths around the world are on the rise mostly due to an ageing population. ‘There is increasing life expectancy, and cancer occurs more frequently in older age groups,’ he noted.

The best way to stem the increasing number of cancer cases and deaths is prevention, especially in poorer countries, the expert said. In many developing nations, the health-care infrastructure simply isn't there to offer cancer screening and treatment for most people, Jemal added.

MOST COMMON CANCERS

In developed countries, the most common cancers among men are prostate, lung and colorectal cancer. Among women, the most common cancers are breast, colorectal and lung cancer. However, in developing countries the three most common cancers among men are lung, stomach and liver, and among women, breast, cervix, uteri and stomach. Worldwide, some 15% of all cancers are thought to be related to infections, including hepatitis (liver cancer) and human papilloma virus (cervical cancer). But the incidence of infection-related cancers remains three times higher in developing countries compared with developed countries (26% vs. 8%).

WHAT IS INTEGRATIVE CANCER TREATMENT?

Integrative Cancer Treatment (ICT) is a unique therapy for treating individuals with cancer. This therapy utilises multiple modalities, including, but not limited to, off-label pharmaceuticals, neutraceuticals, vaccines and other types of immunotherapy, novel drugs/substances not yet approved in the US, dietary treatments, mind-body techniques, hyperthermia, homeopathy, in addition to traditional therapy which includes radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery.

ICT VS TRADITIONAL CANCER TREATMENT

Traditional cancer treatment is effective for early stage cancer. Unfortunately, in the US and elsewhere in the world, there has been little progress in the treatment of advanced stage cancers in the past 20 years. A study was published in the British journal Clinical Oncology in December 2004 entitled, ‘The Contribution of Cytotoxic Chemotherapy to 5-Year Survival in Adult Malignancies.’ The authors, one medical oncologist and two radiation oncologists, analysed the results of all randomised clinical trials performed in the US and Australia, that reported a statistically significant increase in five-year survival due to the use of chemotherapy in adult malignancies. The trials that were analysed were performed between 1990 and 2004. The authors’ conclusions were the following:

  • Contribution to 5-year survival in Australia was 2.3%;
  • Contribution to 5-year survival in US was 2.1%;
  • Median survival in lung cancer has increased by 2 months in the past 20 years.
  • Overall survival benefit of less than 5% has been achieved in the adjuvant treatment of breast, colon, and head and neck cancers. Clearly, the need for an alternative form of cancer treatment is great and imminent.

Waveex May 2023

MULTIPLE MODALITIES

Some experts agree that many cancer deaths can be avoided through lifestyle changes and adopting the integrative approach. Integrative cancer treatment uses multiple modalities, including neutraceuticals, dietary treatments and mind-body techniques, in addition to the traditional therapy of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and possibly surgery.

CAM therapies

Unfortunately, knowledge of the safety and effectiveness of many complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies is relatively new and limited – restricted for a number of reasons including regulatory and funding issues as well as difficulties finding institutions and cancer researchers to work with on the studies. However, this is changing and CAM therapies have generally been reported to be safe and effective.

More and more people are turning to CAM therapies, particularly cancer patients. The 2007 National Health Interview Survey reported about four out of 10 adults had adopted CAM approaches that year. One large survey, conducted in 2008 among cancer survivors about the use of CAM therapies, found that almost 40% had followed specific diets complemented with nutritional supplements and vitamins.

CAM therapies are also used by 31 to 84% of children with cancer, both in and outside of clinical trials. They have been found to be specifically effective in the management of side effects caused by cancer treatment.

As such, a lot more research is taking place to evaluate CAM therapies for cancer, many sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM). For example, several studies are examining the effects of nutraceuticals such as glutamine supplementation, omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, and so forth, on breast cancer patients.

The dietary approach

Although nutrition plays an important role in the reduction of most chronic diseases, it’s not in the way that we originally thought.

For years experts told us to load up on fruits and vegetables to prevent cancer. However, in April 2010, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute took many people by surprise. It reported results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study, also known as the EPIC study, stating the effects that fruit and vegetable intake had on cancer risk were ‘weak at best’. Compared to the earlier estimates of a 50% risk reduction, the EPIC study researchers found that two servings’ worth of fruit and vegetables only lowered the risk by a modest 4%.

INTEGRATIVE CANCER PLAN

  • Monitor your vitamin D levels throughout the year and maintain a good balance
  • Control your insulin levels by limiting your intake of processed foods and sugar
  • Get appropriate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Get moving and exercise
  • Eat a wholesome, balanced diet and maintain an ideal body weight
  • Keep as calm as possible (many diseases are caused or exacerbated by stressful emotions)
  • Get enough high-quality sleep
  • Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins and electromagnetic radiation
  • Boil, poach or steam your food, rather than frying

However, this doesn’t mean cancer patients must ditch the fruit and vegetables and start eating what they like, particularly as it’s known that obesity increases the risk of a number of different types of cancer. With hormonally driven cancers, such as breast cancer for example, obese patients have a worse prognosis than those with a healthy body mass index.

Overall, a diet that emphasises various coloured fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and cold-water fish that provide omega-3 fatty acids (fish eaters have a reduced risk of cancer) is the best nutritional strategy. Other effective cancer-fighting nutrients are ginger, garlic, onions, turmeric and green tea.

Conversely, the baddies to avoid whenever possible include refined carbohydrates; red meat; unpasteurised dairy products, which contain hormones; and high-heat cooking methods, as they boost the food’s carcinogenic compounds.

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