The abnormal growth and multiplication of cells is called cancer. Besides interrupting and interfering with the functioning of normal cells, these cancerous cells spread to other parts of the body causing further damage.
What causes cancer?
Emerging evidence shows, more than 90% of cancers are caused by a combination of wrong diet, lifestyle and environment whereas genetics play a far smaller role than it is given credit for. These 3 factors dicate which genes express themselves.
Epigenetics is the study of how our behavior and environment can change the way our genes express themselves. Research in this field has proven that unless their required environment is created inside the body, the genes do not express themselves. Even if a person’s entire family has cancer, it is not necessary that he/she would also develop it. It is important to note, however, that they are at a higher risk and need to be more healthful than others.
What this means is that starting today, you can slash your risk of cancer - simply by eating and living right!
Healthy Eating: A diet rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals has the power to repair defects that can lead to cancer - detoxify carcinogens, cause cancer cell death, cut off blood supplies to growing tumors, and stimulate the immune system to recognize & repair abnormalities, and even fight and kill cancer cells.
This can be achieved by shifting to whole plant based foods and increasing fresh produce(vegetables, green leafy vegetables and fruits) specially raw, in our daily diet. This is the key to prevention and can even play an important role in the treatment of various cancers. It is important to preserve food’s natural form to the extent possible - just as plants have produced them.
Not eating/fasting: plays a major role in cancer. A cell biologist from Japan who won a Noble prize in 2016 for deciphering the mechanisms behind fasting, Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi has proved that fasting can trigger autophagy (self-killing of damaged cells) and thus stop multiplication of rogue cells in the body leading to cancer.
Super Foods: Often, some specific foods are touted as cancer preventing. The problem with this sort of marketing is that it makes people believe that unhealthy food and lifestyle habits can be countered with this one super food. If a single food were to cure, prevent or reverse cancer, the world would have gotten rid of cancer by now. The idea is to consume a variety of whole plant based foods to get all the healing components.
“We hold our own destiny three times a day in the choices that we’re making – when we’re sitting down to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner” Dr. William Li, MD
Healthy Lifestyle: Good exercise has many biological effects on the body to prevent cancer.
Lowers the levels of growth factors and hormones that have been associated with cancer development and progression
Improves immune homeostasis
Reduces gastrointestinal tract exposure to possible carcinogens by speeding up the travel time in the colon
Prevents obesity which is a risk factor for various types of cancers
Engage in any physical activity which gives you joy, every single day
Sleep: Lack of rest and sleep disrupts circadian rhythm and contributes to the development of cancers. Circadian signals are involved in how cells grow and divide and this has implications on mutations and DNA damage.
Early bedtimes and sound sleep till the body feels rested and fresh is very important. Along with this, small breaks between activities, focusing on activities one at a time and slowing down are all essential parts of healthy rest.
Stress: The correlation between psychological stress and cancer is very high and the two are linked in several ways. For example, people under stress may develop certain behaviors like smoking or overeating or unhealthy eating or drinking alcohol, which increase a person’s risk for various cancers.
Relaxation techniques, yoga asanas, pranayama, meditation, being out in nature can all help get clarity of mind and thus make right decisions and decrease stress.
Healthy environment: Here are a few factors that contribute to cancer. This is not an exhaustive list, just a few connected with food and cancer Genetically modified foods.
Foods laden with chemicals and pesticides
Processed & animal foods full of chemicals/preservatives/coloring agents/flavoring agents, etc.
Non-stick and toxic cookware
Plastic usage with food and in environment and soil
Pollution of soil, water, air and our food.
Tobacco / gutka chewing
Extensive usage of smartphones and holding them near the body
More than 10 hrs screen time a day - increased risk of cancer
Indiscriminate use of oestrogen
Environmental factors that can influence cancer are innumerable in number. Amongst the ones in our control, we ought to make the right choices to minimize their negative impact. Our health is our own responsibility.
MIND matters: It is both powerful and fragile. You create what you think and so thoughts matter. Whether you have positive or negative thoughts is going to determine the progression/remission of cancer. Through right input to the body including natural elements/Panchabhutas and all our senses aids in maintaining health - both body and mind.
Finally, World Cancer Day is not the only day in the year to think of prevention or reversal. It is essential to work towards it every single day by eating and living right. Many of my clients who suffered cancer can vouch for improved quality of life, intentional weight loss, no recurrence, and improvement in other aspects of health in the years after cancer diagnosis provoked their dietary change.