by Dr Patrick Quanten MD
Cancer, like all other diseases, has a multi-factorial cause. There is never just one reason for any single cancer. A set of ongoing circumstances need to be influencing our life for quite awhile before the disease will manifest itself. Researches even believe that cancer cells are a regular occurrence in our bodies, but that the norm is that these cells are destroyed quickly by our immune system. It is only when this fails that a disease can occur.
Collecting data on cancer as a full blown disease can thus not adequately be done without setting strict guidelines. When figures are only collected from death certificates, people will only be registered as cancer sufferers if they have actually died from cancer. By international convention, death certificates are a means of collecting data on reasons why people die, not on diseases that people may suffer from. In other words, if someone was suffering from a bowel cancer but died from a heart attack, you would not count this cancer if you were to collect cancer figures from death rates. Once again it shows that statistical information has little value, since there are so many variables that can be manipulated. Especially when we talk about people, we can not find two people that are alike and therefore totally comparable; we all are different and do things differently, so the fact that one person smokes and the other doesn't, does not mean that there are no other differences and in effect, we should be very careful when drawing conclusions from comparing people's lives.
Hans R Larsen is a chemical engineer who worked in the field of biochemistry and nutrition very closely together with Professor Henrik Dam, the Nobel Prize-winning discoverer of vitamin K. Here follow some of his conclusions.
"What causes cancer?"
The major causes of cancer are generally believed to be a faulty diet, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation. It is estimated that 60% of all cancers in men and 40% of all cancers in women are caused by a diet that is too high in fat and proteins and too low in fruits, vegetables and fibre. Fats are believed to promote cancer rather than initiate it and animal fats and hydrogenated fats are particularly detrimental. A high intake of protein has been associated with an increased risk of many types of cancer and a high sugar intake significantly increases the risk of breast cancer.
Smoked, pickled, salt-cured and barbecued foods are also potent cancer initiators while alcohol is strongly implicated in the promotion of already initiated cancer cells.
Smoking and the exposure to second-hand smoke accounts for about 30% of all cancer deaths and it is estimated that 350,000 men and women die every year in the United States from smoking related illnesses.
Pesticides and other toxic chemicals are increasingly implicated as cancer initiators. Asbestos has been strongly linked to lung cancer and benzene to leukaemia and bone marrow cancers. Chlorination of drinking water is another potent cause of cancer and is estimated to cause 15% of all cancers of the rectum and 9% of all bladder cancers. Excessive exposure to solar radiation and electromagnetic fields can lead to cancer.
Although these causes of cancer are many and varied they have one thing in common - they are almost all avoidable!
Prevention of cancer
Between 80-90% of all cancers are preventable but it takes knowledge and determination to act on this fact. The most important measures to prevent cancer are to eat a healthy diet, avoid smoking and second-hand smoking, and avoid exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation. Maintaining a strong immune system and particularly an abundant supply of dietary antioxidants are equally important.
A healthy diet is one that contains an abundance of fresh, preferably organically-grown, fruits and vegetables. The healthy diet should be rich in fibre and low in fat. Protein intake should be moderate and red meat consumption should be limited. Sugar, alcohol, margarine, and pickled, smoked, salted, and barbecued foods should be avoided.
Getting daily exercise and avoiding excessive psychological stress are also important preventive measures. Lack of physical activity has recently been implicated in the development of both breast and colon cancer.
A lack of sunlight has also been implicated in the development of breast and colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis. It is important to get at least one half hour of unprotected sunlight every day, remembering that sunscreens block the formation of vital vitamin D and do not protect against melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma.
Antioxidants like vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, and selenium are all recognised cancer fighters. They work by naturalising free radicals and toxins before they can initiate the gene mutation which eventually leads to cancer. Numerous scientific studies have shown that many people have a low antioxidant intake and that this vastly increases their risk of cancer. Other studies have shown that supplementing with antioxidants can significantly lower the risk of developing many types of cancer.
A strong immune system is an essential defence against cancer. A healthy diet will go a long way towards giving you a healthy immune system, but for optimum protection most progressive researchers recommend supplementation with appropriate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and especially antioxidants.
So, by eating a healthy diet, taking the appropriate supplements, avoiding smoking and alcohol, keeping your stress levels low, getting lots of exercise, and staying far away from radiation and toxic chemicals you can reduce your chances of developing cancer by 80-90%. However, what do you do if you or a loved one already has cancer? The main thing to do is not to panic, to carefully evaluate your treatment options and above all, not to lose hope. Cancer can be beaten."
We are all exposed to toxic chemicals and radiation, but we can work at restoring the balance by doing something positive about the detrimental influences that we do have control over. It is easy to blame our misfortunes on others; it is hard to change our ways and take responsibility for our own lives. Ultimately, it is the latter that is going to make all the difference.
Dr Patrick Quanten MD
Alderney, Channel Islands