Cancer: An Overview
In some way, shape, or form, cancer is a disease that impacts and affects the entire world. You may know a family member, friend, or acquaintance who has been diagnosed with a form of this disease, or been diagnosed yourself. It is likely that you hear about ways to prevent cancer when you watch television or surf social media. You may even read about foods that are a “good source of antioxidants” when you go food shopping. And certainly, you have been told to wear sunscreen as a way to prevent the dangers of skin cancer. A diagnosis of cancer is one to be reckoned with, in both health and illness.
Cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of illness-related deaths. In the United States alone, researchers estimate that this year there will be at least 1.7 million newly diagnosed cases of the disease, with an expected minimum of 600,000 resultant fatalities. The very nature of cancer and the fact that it can develop in anyone, anywhere, and at any age, contributes to its insidiousness.
While research shows that more men tend to die from the disease than women, there is promisingly predictive data that suggests that the number of cancer survivors is on the rise and expected to grow substantially by 2026. The types of cancer most frequently diagnosed in both men and women include breast, lung, prostate, and colorectal. Cancers of the skin, bladder, and kidneys, as well as the endocrine, renal, reproductive, and vascular systems are less prevalent, but only in relation to the more frequently diagnosed versions of the disease.
Antioxidants and Free Radicals
While there are no guaranteed ways to prevent cancer, the use of antioxidants as a means of combating free radicals is often viewed as the closest thing to prevention. Antioxidants are chemicals that are made by the body and found externally in fruits, vegetables, some meats, nuts, and grains. Additionally, they can be found in certain dietary supplements. Antioxidants protect the body from the dangers of free radicals and the rapid replication of deadly, cancerous cells. The cells that do mutate within the body and can pose a threat to one’s health, are defined as free radicals. And because antioxidants attack free radicals, they are often referred to as “free radical scavengers.”
Though the scientific community has looked to antioxidants as a potentially curative or preventive cancer treatment, current data does not support this claim. In fact, trials using foods rich in antioxidants have yielded inconclusive evidence. And while higher levels of antioxidants seem to lower the risk of contracting the disease, there is currently no proof that this is a product of causation vs correlation. There is promising information on the horizon that indicates that antioxidants may work in concern with and potentiate the use of radiation and chemotherapy. At this time however, the information is indeterminate .
Inhibiting Cancer Development
Maintaining a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins A, E, C, lycopene, beta- carotene, glutathione, and selenium, is recommended for overall health, independent of a potential cancer diagnosis. And it probably does not come as a shock that eating well, exercising, and abstaining from dangerous amounts of alcohol and cigarettes, is the best way to maintain a long and healthy life. Sadly however, there are people whose genetic makeup predisposes them to certain cancers. Others engage in lifelong, nefarious habits and never meet with an oncologist.
A cancer diagnosis falls into an oddly, yet- to- be- named category where things happen at random, can be prepared for, possibly prevented, and any combination thereof. The best we can do is live our best lives the best ways we know how, and hope for the best. With a diagnosis that ultimately wrestles complete control from its victims, actively pursuing a healthy lifestyle, if nothing else, grants us a certain amount, whether real or not, of control over our health.
Risk Reduction and Preventive Care
Cancer is a disease that affects the welfare of people from all walks of life, social class, financial status, and political affiliation. The irony of its non- discriminatory conduct is lost on many, but this truth is borne out on a daily basis. And though the prevalence of cancer can be seen throughout both public and private spheres, the ferocity with which cures are sought is simply and unabashedly, amazing. Thankfully, much progress has been made but we have also learned that there are no silver bullets or magic pills in the fight against cancer.
While there are no guarantees against cancer, what can help you achieve your best self is the monitoring and maintenance of your overall health, engagement in activities that are fun but safe, and holding firm to your convictions to good health. It is important to remember too, that you are not alone in your health journey, and that Body Systems Wellness in Glendale, California, under the guidance of Dr. Shahen Kurestian, DC, can further assist you with antioxidant treatments and true body wellness.