Nearly 50% of cancer is linked to modifiable factors which means things you can control. As it may soon reveal, that number may even be an understatement. Given the importance of lifestyle, mind-body health, and inflammation we can modify our health outcomes by addressing such issues.
Inflammation is the process by which our immune systems responds to a stress or damage in our body caused by everything from low quality food to environmental toxins. When too much inflammation is present, our tissues are in a constant state of damage and repair which causes internal damage to our cells and depletion of key nutrients that protect us, a double edged sword.
A big part of modifiable risk factors isn’t just eating less sugar and processed foods, it is limiting environmental toxins. Such toxins have been linked to not only chronic inflammation but are impacted in the cause of cancer. In todays world more than 100,000 synthetic chemicals are used and about 1,000 new chemicals are introduced each year without adequate safety trials. In fact, it must be proven harmful in order to even be taken off the market which can take years. This is why it is of the utmost importance to check ourselves and what we can do right now to limit chronic harm to our bodies.
Generic household cleaners contain numerous amounts of such toxins. These should not only be avoided but removed. Makeup and beautify products alike often contain heavy metals like Lead which are carcinogenic while certain hair dye’s contain toxic ingredients like toluene, ammonia, and even benzene —a known carcinogen. Most surprising is that many of these toxins may even enter our bodies before birth; directly from the umbilical cord of our mothers if they were exposed. Today we are able to search for such toxic exposures and uncover our risk so we can do something about it.
We also know such toxins come form of pesticides. These antibiotic toxins are sprayed on our food and even sprayed after harvest right on to it: An unbelievable detrimental to our health. Most studies on such pesticides have shown that non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Leukemia showed positive associations with pesticide exposure as well as many other studies showing association with solid tumors. Drinking natural spring water, eat organic, and buy only non- GMO and organic foods that aren’t designed to be grown under toxic circumstances and allow our natural detox abilities to thrive.
One last important source of environmental toxins may shock you. This synthetic toxin is a plastic heavily present in certain personal protective equipment (PPE) we have been using lately, its called Vinyl Chloride. It is used in synthetic masks, face shields and gloves to be exact. Vinyl Chloride is a well known carcinogen capable of liver, brain lung, as well as leukemia and lymphoma’s. It’s not hard to imagine the potential long term consequences of constantly breathing this in with our air supply for hours at a time. While masks are especially important to wear if you are sick to help prevent the spread, there are far better options than the synthetic ones—masks made of natural materials. Extremely important is also appropriate hand washing. Unless you are in direct contact with ill people such as hospital employees gloves should not be used on a routine basis. Throughout the medical literature hand washing has shown to be among the most effective tools to stop the spread of infection, not just Covid-19.
As it turns out certain people with toxic exposures and even smokers may live long healthy lives while others suffer insurmountable struggles as a result of such exposures. This has a lot to do with a persons genetic ability to detoxify from such substances as we now know from genome wide associated studies, a valuable tool to see what you should be aware of to help prevent. The greatest gift we could possibly give those we lost to cancer, is a promise of hope. Recognition and removal of such inflammation allows the immune system to remain sharp and balanced to best target and destroy cancer while helping prevent it and detoxifying. This way we may live to our utmost potential and increase the chances of being cancer free. Functional Medicine practitioners are trained to go deeper and uncover our toxic burden, even our genetic tendencies towards them which is advisable to anyone. I hope this knowledge inspires you to live to your best potential and show the world we can beat cancer by being the healthiest versions of ourselves.
Agency for toxic substances and disease registry -atsdr.cdc.gov
-Bassil KL, Vakil C, Sanborn M, Cole DC, Kaur JS, Kerr KJ. Cancer health effects of pesticides: systematic review. Can Fam Physician. 2007;53(10):1704-1711.