Ok, so let’s be honest, we all know many of the common culprits that can significantly increase your risk of cancer. From smoking and sunburns, to alcohol and obesity, these are a few of the well accepted triggers and causes of cancer. But for those who don’t smoke, aren’t exposed to industrial chemicals of daily life (car exhaust, gasoline or second hand smoke for example), maintain a healthy weight, good diet, and are healthfully active, why is there still a one in two chance you will be diagnosed with cancer? Yes it’s the well known carcinogens and small role of genetics and genetic susceptibility that likely contribute in some way or form, however it’s the hidden cancer related agents that can often influence the presence and growth of cancer the most. 

 

Let it be known that the intent of this article is not to scare or overwhelm you, but to start bringing more awareness to the fact that cancer is multifaceted and a disease that is highly modifiable and can be largely avoided. 

 

Environmental toxins 

 

The list here is long, yet non exhaustive. I’m not saying that your hairspray will give you cancer, nor that without your flame retardant furniture you never would have been diagnosed, however we do know that collectively, we live in a very toxic world. Being bombarded by a relentless soup of chemicals everywhere we live and go, our body’s eventually become overwhelmed (also think liver health support here!), relent to genetic mutations and greatly increase our risk of cancer. Here are some of the more widely known environmental toxins that have shown some connection to that of cancer:

 

Plastics, pesticides, EMF signals, diesel and gas exhaust, vaping, natural gas, wood dust, hair and body products, mineral oils, cleaning products, conventional farming practices, glyphosate, radon, talc, cooking in aluminum, artificial colours, flavours and preservatives, trans fats, air travel, dry cleaning, asbestos, styrofoam and disposable coffee cups, shower curtains liners, carpets, floor glazes and soft plastics, cash register receipts, salt cured fish and pickled foods, wood formaldehyde, particleboard, glues, breast implants, pharmaceutical drugs.

 

There are many, many others to list here (including the hundreds and hundreds of untested chemicals released and used within our environment every single day), however the ultimate goal with this list is to preferably understand the toxic world we live in, and secondly, take steps in order to reduce or eliminate your exposures (I have a list, another time, for that too!).

 

Inflammation 

 

Inflammation comes in many sizes and forms. Essentially however, inflammation present inside your body greatly contributes and evokes the cancer causing process. We’re not talking here about the heat and redness that follows a cut finger or a stubbed toe (this is a healthy, short term inflammatory response), but rather it’s the long term (chronic) inflammation that is cause for concern. What we call this ever present inflammation is typically a low lying, sub clinical inflammatory response that your body just can’t shut off. If not dealt with or eventually controlled, it’s these specific inflammatory mediators (pro inflammatory, or inflammatory encouraging) created that causes a cascading effect in your body, lending itself to a perfect cancer causing storm. And for those who aren’t aware, inflammation is a major predictor of cancer aggressiveness and growth (cancer related blood work often measures and tracks these markers to help decipher cancer treatments, tumour invasiveness, growth and progression). What are the causes of this dangerous low level inflammation? In addition to many of the environmental toxins mentioned above, obesity, stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, and illness and disease (such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, auto immune conditions, etc) are some of the other contributors. 

 

Viruses

 

This one is tough. We all get sick. We all catch colds. We all interact, daily, with viruses and germs. Viruses are literally impossible to avoid, and are integral in the health of individuals and a population as a whole (believe it or not!). That being said, there are specific viruses that have been identified to have a high risk association to that of causing and contributing to cancer. A few of the more well known viruses that have been linked to cancer are  HIV, HPV, H Pylori, and Hepatitis B and C. There are others however, yet listing the culprits isn’t necessarily the intent here. The goal and intent, when it comes to viruses, is that, no, you can’t always control which viruses you’ll come into contact with or when, but yes, you can surely do something about it. Aside from taking active measures to avoid and be screened or tested for some of these viruses, what I’m talking about here is ensuring you’re continually properly supporting your immune system. How do you do that? Well, for one, speak to me, or any other qualified naturopathic doctor, as we do this well. Secondly, supporting your immune system is about all the things I’ve already mentioned; eating well, sleeping well, managing stress, and being well balanced and active. I also highly recommend spending more time in nature, as well as knowing what herbs or nutrients specifically, safely and properly modulate your immune system.

 

This all seems overwhelming to some, does it not? There are a lot of issues and concerns at play here, however by educating yourself, becoming more aware of your environment, and slowly taking the steps necessary, further reducing your cancer risk is well within your reach. 

 

Dr Jeremy Hayman, ND helps patients at Cornerstone Naturopathic Inc. feel better, live better, and achieve optimal wellness and health. Years of patient care coupled with dedication to personal life balance has helped Dr Jeremy employ the adage that “your approach to health should be simple”.

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