Having a Strategy to Prevent and Manage Cancer
Cancer is a multifactorial disease, and so it needs a multifactorial approach. There isn’t a single magic treatment, food, diet, exercise, or magic yoga asana to treat cancer.
Any disease requires a well laid out strategy, not just cancer. It is not just about adding more medicines or nutrition. Our mindsets are typically moulded in such a way that when we think of cancer, we think of chemotherapy, radiations, and surgery. While that may be the standard protocol, it simply is not enough. We need to add to our lifestyle so much more, if recovery and successful management are the goals. Similarly, in diabetes, it should not just have to be about adding medicines to balance your blood sugar levels to make them look good on your blood reports. So, whatever condition is in question, one must have a systematic strategy built around it.
Investing in Cancer Prevention:
The reason we need to focus on cancer prevention is that all of us have cancer cells. We have microscopic tumours within us that are trying to compete with healthy cells, looking for ways to hijack healthy cells, rob, and steal nutrition from them, and trick our body and immune system to breaking out into a full-blown cancer. This is the bitter ugly truth for all of us.
The moment we do what we are not supposed to do, we create a favourable environment for the abnormal cells to overpower the healthy cells and cause cancer.
Preventing cancer is not about getting onto another diet, taking supplements, nutraceuticals, or popping Ayurvedic pills. While these may help, our focus should be on overall lifestyle.
Risk factors of Cancer:
If you have any of these risk factors, you do not have to be scared. You have to be aware, smart, and need to address them to invest in prevention.
- Know your family history and genetic disposition:
If your family has a history of cancer, you should be motivated to take care of yourself. A genetic predisposition does not mean you will get cancer, but your chances increase, if you create a suitable environment for bad genes to express themselves. It is called a genetic expression. However, if we can take care of our lifestyle and risk factors, we have high possibilities of preventing the disease.
This is one of the most substantial risk factors. You may think that you can continue smoking and will not contract cancer, because it does not happen to so many others who smoke, but know that you are still at high risk. You may fall in the unlucky ratio of those who get cancer, or the lucky ratio of those who do not get it. No one knows! So, choose your habits wisely. Smoking does not directly cause cancer. It causes carcinogens to get into your blood, causes problems with the respiratory system, immunity, oxygenation of cells, high inflammation, all of which can ultimately manifest into cancer.
Passive smoking is equally harmful. If the risk is not higher, it is at least the same for someone who passively smokes.
Obesity is another high-risk factor. In fact, the complications associated with obesity like insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, are actual risk factors for almost every type of cancer. Even if you lose a little bit of fat (body fat percentage) every month in the right way, it will help you reduce the risk.
Obesity also causes hormonal imbalances, and our hormones control everything right from inflammation, to immunity, and to our cell and DNA instruction. If your hormones are out of whack, this is a gentle motivation for you to work towards yourself.
Can you believe that science now shows a 100% connection of chronic negative emotions like anger, resentment, unforgiveness, hatred, bitterness, and guilt with cancer and other diseases? How? Chronic stress decreases immunity, creates havoc with our hormones, and increases inflammation, all of which are again connected to cancer and other diseases. Work on building emotional wellness.
- Carbohydrates and white sugar:
If you are overdoing it with white sugar, bad carbohydrates, and processed foods, you are also increasing your chances of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, inflammation, low immunity, and ultimately cancer. You do not have to go off carbs completely, but choose them wisely in terms of quality and quantity.
- A diet that lacks fruits and vegetables:
The internet is full of diets asking you to not eat fruits and vegetables in order to lose weight. If fruits and vegetables were the culprits as per your fad diet, then everyone should be falling sick and be obese. Fruits and vegetables are the basics of your nutrition. Most of your antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals required for a strong immune system and keeping inflammation low comes from fruits and vegetables. Eat your superfoods and exotic ingredients, but get the basics right first. No amount of multivitamins or additional supplements can match up to what is found in fruits and vegetables. Yes, you may have to reduce the number of fruits you eat, because of diabetes or obesity, but completely cutting them out from your nutrition is not the answer. Nothing given by nature is useless. If your broader life goal is a healthy and disease-free life, then please drop your shallow and short-term goals of quick weight loss, and fad diets that are capable of destroying your health and life.
- Binge drinking:
There is not much to be said about this. It messes up your liver, immunity, gut health, raises inflammation, toxins, and everything else. Drink if you have to, but be wise! Make smart choices, and be responsible for the outcomes.
- High salt intake:
While salt is necessary, high salt consumption is not. The high salt intake comes easily when you eat processed, packaged, and preserved foods. Hence, be careful of its intake.
Yes, it is not under our control, but what is in our control is – eating a healthy diet, boosting liver health to effectively process toxins that we breathe in through the air, boosting respiratory health, and doing breathing exercises and pranayama every single day.
- Charred and burnt foods:
Overeating of tandoori, barbequed, and grilled foods unfortunately also increase your cancer risk. HCA’s (heterocyclic amines), which is a by-product associated with charred foods are a listed carcinogen, by the FDA, UK, and USA government. Cook your food the right way. Charring or overcooking can only increase your cancer risk.
2. Excessive sunlight and artificial tanning beds:
Excessive sunlight and at the wrong time are a cancer risk factor too. At the same time, artificial tanning beds found in the US and UK, are also potent carcinogens.
Hepatitis B, C, and HPV can also increase your cancer risk. Have safe sex, and take care of your liver and immunity, because if you get these infections, they are also high-risk factors. If you do have these infections, handle it the right way, so it does not get out of control, and lead to other complications.
4. Vitamin D deficiency:
The research between vitamin D and its anti-cancer and immunity-boosting effects has been around for years. If they are low, fix your levels, because a vitamin D deficiency is a high-risk factor for almost all types of cancer.
5. Insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes:
You may be living with it, and taking your meds just so that the levels look good on your reports, but that does not address the issue. One has to work on correcting their lifestyle, so they can work with their doctor to reduce medication, and address the condition right from its roots, because it is a high-risk factor for cancer.
Remember, habits are not in the genes. Habits are what we learn and unlearn, and this is in our control. Managing your disease is not just doctor visits, and nutrition plans. It is about creating a strategy, which includes not only visits and diet plans, but also the right exercises that suit you, identifying your emotional wellness and ways to handle it, your sleeping habits, and an integrative approach that addresses the root cause.
The reason why the world is chronically sick is that we only look at symptoms. Cancer? Here is a drug! Diabetes? Here is a drug! This is fine, but incomplete. Disease management requires a strategy, because it also requires one to know about so many other mechanisms in the human body that also play a role in not just causing, but also managing the disease.
Write down the above risk factors, introspect and make little lifestyle changes to remove these risks, in turn helping to reduce the risk of contracting cancer. Invest in prevention.
Also read, The Sugar and Cancer Connection.
My name is Luke Coutinho. I am neither a God nor a Guru. I am not a healer or a doctor or a cult leader. I am Luke Coutinho and I practice in the field of Integrative Lifestyle Medicine and Life Coaching. When one hears the word “medicine”, one immediately thinks of the pharmaceutical world, allopathy, chemotherapy, radiation, antibiotics and other drugs used by conventional doctors and medicine. I am not a practitioner of Alternative Medicine either.