Facebook Pixel

Cancer Prevention: The Inflammation Connection

Rate This
Cancer related image Photo: Getty Images

I would expect a medical journal named “Pharmaceutical Research” to focus exclusively on drugs, but that's not the case. I was delighted to find that a group of authors from The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center published a comprehensive review article on lifestyle factors that can prevent cancer in this journal.

Genetic defects account for only 5-10 percent of all cancer cases, they claim. As examples of the evidence, they point to two observations: (1) people who move to a different country are likely to be diagnosed with chronic illness common to where they live, not where they came from, and (2) the concordance between identical twins was found to be only 20 percent for breast cancer.

Here's how the M. D. Anderson researchers categorize our cancer risk factors:
1. Diet, 30 – 35 percent
2. Tobacco, 25 – 30 percent
3. Infections, 15 – 20 percent
4. Obesity, 4 – 6 percent
5. Other environmental factors, 10 – 15 percent
6. Genes, 5 - 10 percent

The other environmental factors include air pollution from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), second-hand smoke, formaldehyde, benzene, 1,3-butadiene, nitrates, pesticides, dioxins, and organochlorines. Radiation risks include X-rays (that's why you get the lead apron at the dentist's office, and the technician moves behind the barrier), radon in homes and workplaces, excessive sunlight and tanning lamps, and even nuclear fallout (as in the Chernobyl accident).

The authors of Reference 1 suggest, inflammation is the link between environmental factors and cancer. In Reference 2, Paul Ewald suggests infections are responsible for more cancers, as well as other chronic illnesses, than we yet realize. There is a strong connection between these two viewpoints, since inflammation is the normal response to infection.

I hope these insights will lead to more successful research on preventing cancer. For now, the recommendations are:
1. Do not smoke, and stay away from second-hand smoke!
2. Exercise and keep your weight in the optimum range.
3. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; less meat and processed food.
4. If you drink alcohol, limit consumption to one drink per day.

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.