An elective course I took for my master's degree in holistic Health and Nutrition Education was called "Nutritional Foundations for Individuals with Cancer". I'm happy to share the wealth of information I learned with you!
The statistics aren't good: Cancer takes the life of 1 in every 4 people in the United States, and more than 1500 people die of the disease every single day. In a person's lifetime, 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer and 1 in 3 women. The factors that cause cancer are wide, can be very unspecific, and may collaborate over a very long period of time. The efficacy of many standard treatments has not changed or improved since President Nixon declared the "War on Cancer" back in 1971. Even with age correction, more people are getting cancer than ever before.
However, there is some good news: 95% of cancers are related to lifestyle choices and exposures. That means every person can do something to increase their odds of avoiding the disease. My next post, "Factors that Trigger Cancer & Steps to Avoid the Disease", will give you proactive steps you can take. But, first things first...
What exactly is cancer?
Over 200 types of cancer exist, yet all types of cancer have something in common: they involve cell mutations that cause cells to divide indefinitely and spread. Like unruly, aggressive vampires, cancer cells break the normal rules of cellular control. They steal nutrients and blood from healthy cells in order to thrive, grow, and proliferate. Each new generation of cancer cells can become stronger than the one before. This makes cancer an especially chaotic and complex disease.
There are 6 well recognized hallmarks of cancer:
Self-Sufficiency in Growth Signals: In cancer, there is uncontrolled proliferation of cells through abnormal expression of genes that perpetuate continuous replication.
Insensitivity to Growth Inhibitory (Antigrowth) Signals: A cancer cell no longer responds appropriately to normal growth-inhibitory (non-proliferative) actions and signals.
Evasion of Programmed Cell Death (Apoptosis): Normally, cells that become damaged are eliminated in order to maintain health and homeostasis. In cancer, abnormal tumor cells continue to live and proliferate despite their damaged DNA and insufficient respiration.
Limitless Replicative Potential: Most cells have a finite number of divisions. However, cancer cells seem immortal and continue to divide without limit.
Sustained Vascularity (Angiogenesis): New blood vessels are formed to deliver nutrients to cancer tumors and eliminate its waste products. This vascularization spurs further growth.
Tissue Invasion and Metastasis: This is the invasion of tumor cells into other tissues and the spread to distant organs. Complications due to metastasis are responsible for 90% of cancer deaths and it is the largest challenge in cancer management.
Cancer is also a metabolic disease. This fact leads to 2 additional hallmarks:
Alschuler, L., & Gazella, K. A. (2010). The definitive guide to cancer: an integrative approach to prevention, treatment, and healing (3rd ed.). New York: Celestial Arts.
Seyfried, T. N. (2012). Cancer as a metabolic disease on the origin, management, and prevention of cancer. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.
Warburg, O. (1956). On The Origin Of Cancer Cells. Science, 123(3191), 309-314.
Read the Au Naturale Nutrition series on Cancer:
Jenny Yelle, MHNE Holistic Wellness Educator
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