I can appreciate that most, whether health focused or not, aren’t eagerly interested in intertwining the topic of cancer into daily life. As a preference, I get it, we’d all rather actively avoid even thinking about ‘the big C’. Cancer, as the disease it is, is horrific and life altering for many. If you or anyone you know has ever been diagnosed with cancer, it’s simply not ethical to create any sort of health ‘trend’ toward this potentially deadly disease. That being said however, using information about cancer as a preventative ‘gauge’ is something that can certainly prove extremely useful and beneficial for many.
It’s well accepted that one out of two people in Canada will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetime. If you ask me, I belong to the category of people who actively engage in stacking the odds against falling into the fifty percent of those who will eventually be diagnosed. I certainly don’t obsess about whether every little choice I make is cancer causing or not, but I do gauge my overall lifestyle practices to assess whether they’re guiding me toward better health or not. Specifically, when it comes to what I already know about cancer, I’m able to easily use this gauge as feedback toward whether I’m generally working within a cancer promoting or cancer reducing lifestyle. So although cancer’s a disease I plan to avoid, by incorporating an ongoing measure to gauge my modifiable risks against it, I’m more accurately able to assess my overall risk when it comes to health and disease. I know it can be easy to relent to the ‘I’m going to die anyway’ or ‘everything causes cancer so what’s the point’ attitude, but if it’s important to not just live, but to thrive, then actively investing into your health is the only thing that truly makes sense.
As it is, cancer has taken over heart disease as the most prevalent disease in Canada. With this in mind, doing everything opposite of what would increase my risk of cancer is exactly what I want to do. As a bonus, living an anti cancer lifestyle not only reduces your risk of cancer, it also wonderfully reduces your risk of many other diseases as well (heart disease, diabetes, stroke etc). So to me, it’s either about increasing or decreasing your overall risk of health or disease. And isn’t it nice that you can do it all in one continuous swoop?
Although I’d much rather focus my life toward positive thought, intention and endeavours (I do enjoy living in my self created bubble), I also appreciate that I can sometimes become ‘too positive or optimistic’ when it comes to health or life in general. When this ‘mega-optimism’ of health takes over reasonable thought, gauging my health in relation to cancer can really centre me back on track.
So what do I do and how to I do it? It’s pretty simply really. I’m well versed on the heavy hitters when it comes to cancer risk (both major and lesser known risks). I’m also well educated in integrative naturopathic medicine to know what to do when it comes to reducing, reversing or avoiding these risks. And sure, I could measure based on a general metric in terms of overall health, but given cancer’s a disease largely modifiable by lifestyle there’s no better (comprehensive) endpoint to use than cancer when it comes to optimizing health. I do appreciate even the healthiest of people are not immune to cancer, however this is about minimizing your risks, which is why I’m careful to never use the term ‘eliminate’ or ‘avoid’ when it comes to cancer.
In terms of living a healthy lifestyle (I’m a proponent of the 80/20 rule; minimum 80% healthy choices) I’m also a proponent of ‘treating’ a disease that may not currently be present. For example, although I’ve yet to be diagnosed with cancer, because so many cancer risks can be modified, I like to live and ‘treat’ myself as though I already have it (most of us do have cancer in our body actually, but whether it comes to fruition is a matter of whether it’s ultimately controlled or not by health over a lifetime). From a natural (integrative) medicine and lifestyle perspective, supporting my anti cancer pursuit through proper diet, exercise, stress reduction, sleep, and supplementation is an easy, non invasive way to help.
When it comes to cancer, there are no guarantees, however if you can confidently say that you’re doing what you can to actively reduce your risks, then you can also say you’re well on your way to living and optimizing your health for years to come. And what about for those who have already been diagnosed with cancer? It’s as important to gauge your health against this disease to ensure you’re minimizing cancers ability to grow, proliferate, and continue to take over your health.