Cancer is a frighteningly common disease that we are seeing increasingly in young people. Is there anything you can do to reduce your risk? You may be surprised there are several things you can do to strengthen your immune system and reduce the odds you’ll be diagnosed with cancer, or improve the chances you’ll beat it if you currently have cancer. Cancer is a complex disease, and it can behave quite differently in two people diagnosed with the same type of cancer. A lot of people view the diagnosis of cancer as a “death sentence” and yet this is no longer true and many cancers are curable with modern medicine, surgery and integrative therapies.

Is anyone ever free of the risk of cancer?

Even if we have never been diagnosed with cancer, or we have been in remission for many years, there are many biologists and researchers who think we all have cancer cells forming in our bodies every day.

This theory is logical, as every time cells divide and their DNA is replicated, mistakes may happen. Cancer means that our cells are not behaving —they are not able to shut down cell division and/or they fail to die on schedule. Our bodies have ways of preventing these unavoidable cellular DNA mistakes from becoming fully-developed cancers that can kill us.

24 hours a day, your body uses strategies that:

  • Protect DNA from damage
  • Repair DNA that is damaged
  • Correct mistakes in a cell’s molecular chemistry
  • Stimulate cells that cannot be repaired or re-purposed to commit suicide (this is known as apoptosis)
  • Discover and kill wandering abnormal cells that are in your bloodstream or outside their parent tissue

You need a healthy liver and immune system to perform these strategies effectively so that the first cells of cancer can be destroyed and cannot get a chance to form a tumor with its own blood supply somewhere in your body.

Why do people get cancer?

In order to reduce your risk of getting cancer, it helps to know the factors that can promote cancer development. Sometimes it is obvious why someone gets cancer – for example, they were a heavy smoker or had an awful diet; but then there are people who live a long life despite these behaviors!

I am sure that stress can cause cancer, as I have seen people come down with cancer after years of struggle, disappointment or anger; you could say that life gave them cancer. These are often people who were too kind and caring and let others drain their health away. They often used maladaptive techniques to cope with stress. I believe that stress management, adequate rest and self-nurturing can help a lot to prevent cancer. I have seen cancer develop in many people who did not have any risk factors and should never have got cancer, which shows us that we are still in the early stages of predicting and understanding cancer. Future research into genetics will bring us many answers to prevention and treatment.

Cancer-causing factors include:

  • Excess exposure to radiation from too many X-rays, electronic devices such as mobile phones, large transmitter towers and nuclear accidents, etc. The question of mobile phones causing increased rates of brain cancer is controversial.
  • Lack of sleep which causes adrenal and immune dysfunction. Insomnia is incredibly common and harmful to your immune system. Magnesium helps to improve sleep quality and melatonin helps people who have difficulty getting to sleep.
  • Shift work which reduces melatonin production (unless you take melatonin supplements).
  • Stress which is prolonged.
  • Excess alcohol intake. Alcohol places your liver under chronic stress. It raises the risk of fatty liver and liver inflammation. If you have consumed more alcohol than ideal, the St Mary’s thistle in Livatone and Livatone Plus would benefit you because it helps regenerate liver cells.
  • Smoking cigarettes - smoking tobacco directly damages the gene for p53 in a lung cell. p53 causes an abnormal pre-cancerous cell to commit suicide (apoptosis). Lung cells receive damage from a constant influx of chemicals from the outside air that can cause damage. Normally all the damage is repaired or the unrepairable cells are sent into apoptosis and die. This cell repair and protection can be helped by supplements of selenium and N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC).
  • Chronic infections with viruses - such as hepatitis B and C, AIDS (caused by the virus known as HIV) and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can cause cancer.
  • Immune-suppressant drugs if used long term.
  • Genetic factors – you may have inherited genes that increase your risk.
  • Fatty liver disease and some other types of liver disease.
  • Obesity.
  • Diabetes and pre-diabetes (insulin resistance). High blood levels of insulin act as a fertilizer, promoting tumor growth.
  • A poor diet especially one that is high in sugar or carbohydrate-rich foods that are digested into sugar.
  • Unhealthy bacteria in the intestines – this is known as dysbiosis.
  • Nutritional deficiencies – the most important ones are low levels of vitamin D and C and the minerals selenium and iodine.
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals/substances such as solvents, pesticides, cigarette smoke, fungal toxins and heavy metals (such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, etc.) can damage mitochondria, which can lead to cancer. Asbestos exposure has caused many cancers.
  • Long term use of the oral contraceptive pill without any breaks increases the risk of liver and breast cancer. The oral contraceptive pill contains synthetic estrogens and progestogens and is taken by many women from a very young age and continued way too long. Most women are blissfully unaware of the risks of long-term use without having breaks for 3 to 6 months every few years.

For more vital information about reducing your risk of cancer, see the new book Cancer Survival Strategies.