Inflammation is part of our immune system, a key ingredient in an intricate recipe of life-sustaining responses that heal our bodies, fight infection and kill dangerous intruders. When it works well, we are cured. When it doesn’t, it can be dangerous and even deadly.
As the body detects the presence of damaged cells or harmful conditions such as germs or bacteria, it automatically initiates a complex biological response that dilates our blood vessels, ramps up infection-fighting blood cell production and ships plasma and white blood cells to the area in danger. As these biochemical events cascade throughout the body, they also create heat, which is why infected areas become warm to the touch and are often red. It is all part of a miraculous vascular dance that surrounds and destroys harmful stimuli, even to the extent of removing the damaged or poisonous intruders. Without inflammation, the slightest cut or tiniest microbe could grow uncontrollably and we would die.
Chronic inflammation is inflammation that is prolonged because the body does not turn off the inflammatory response. When this happens, aside from the pain and fatigue associated with inflammation, it can lead to more serious conditions such as cancer.
Researchers at the National Cancer Institute are investigating how the DNA associated with inflammation alters the host's susceptibility to cancer. Science now shows that inflammation nurtures the microenvironment around cancer tumors, helping the disease grow and move through the body. As tumors thirst for blood to survive, an inflammatory condition satisfies that thirst with its rich, cell-building chemicals and blood. Cancer cells are supported and encouraged by specific proteins present in the inflammatory response, which unwittingly assist in the cancer’s growth, migration and metastasis.
To reduce your inflammatory condition, feel better, and possibly reduce the risk of cancer, do the following:
1. Follow an anti-inflammatory diet, limiting or eliminating trans fats, refined carbohydrates and processed foods. Focus on plant-based, natural foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Take omega-3 supplements.