Cancer Causes and Controversies: Understanding Risk Reduction and Prevention

Cancer Causes and Controversies: Understanding Risk Reduction and Prevention

Cancer Causes and Controversies: Understanding Risk Reduction and Prevention

Cancer Causes and Controversies: Understanding Risk Reduction and Prevention

Synopsis

Cancer Causes and Controversies describes common risk factors associated with particular types of cancer, including genetic predisposition, radiation and chemical carcinogens, diet, hormonal factors, infection, and smoking. The book then looks at the scientific evidence supporting the positive role of healthy nutrition, exercise, and diet in lowering cancer risk, as well as the dangers posed by a dysfunctional immune system compromised by chronic infection, unhealthy lifestyles, stress and poor psychological health. Finally, the book provides an unbiased assessment of a number of controversies surrounding cancer causes and prevention, including screening and genetic testing, vitamin supplementations, genetically modified foods, chemical food additives, to cellular phones and deodorants as potential cancer causing agents.

Excerpt

Cancer—its name alone can produce dread and hopelessness in those who receive its diagnosis. Yet what we call cancer is really a collection of more than 100 different diseases—each with its own specific origin and prognosis. But all cancers have this point in common: the ability to spread to other locations in the body via the blood or lymph systems. This process is known as metastasis. Although a century of intense biomedical research has yielded tremendous breakthroughs, including the discovery of chemopreventive (anticancer) drugs to treat cancer patients, these diseases remain largely incurable.

The scientific community has learned it is contending with a complex and formidable foe. We now know that cancer at the cellular level is a genetic disease, while external and internal conditions that damage DNA can also promote cancer. As the accumulation of several years’ DNA damage increases this risk, consequently one of the major risks associated with most types of cancer is age. Another significant factor that influences susceptibility to cancer is a person’s genetic inheritance. In some families, a genetic predisposition puts family members at a high risk for particular cancers.

Lifestyle choices can have a tremendous influence on individual cancer risk—in beneficial or detrimental ways. Smokers boost their chances for lung cancer, while those who excessively drink alcohol raise their risk for esophageal cancer. Diet plays a major role in a person’s cancer risk. For example, it’s thought that diet is in part responsible for the very low rates of prostate cancer among Asian men in their native countries, because second- and third-generation Asian Americans who have adopted the Western diet have a higher incidence of prostate cancer, close or equal to that of Caucasians.

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