(NaturalHealth365) Understanding the causes behind a disease as fear-provoking as cancer can feel terrifying. It seems every few days, there is news of research that has uncovered yet another potential carcinogen.
Over time, the list of cancer-causing agents can become overwhelming. The reality is, you live, work and play amidst toxins and radiation every day. But arming yourself with knowledge of these risks, rather than allowing yourself to feel overwhelmed, will have the greatest impact in stopping the advance of cancer.
Changing how you think about the cause of cancer
Cancer should not be thought of as a single disease with a single cause. As the National Institute of Health has stated, a range of cells found in a variety of the body’s tissues are at risk for undergoing what is known as “malignant transformation.”
Unfortunately, today’s world opens the floodgates to a tidal wave of toxins and invisible radiation that is always at work promoting malignant transformation of cells. Because of this, cancer rates remain persistently high and it continues to be the leading cause of death worldwide.
Here are five ways the environment is promoting cancer and what you can do to reduce or prevent the effects:
1. Immune impairment
You probably aren’t aware of it, but your body’s immune system is constantly on the lookout for cells showing signs that they have become cancerous. One of the ways environmental toxins promote cancer is by diminishing the immune system’s ability to search out cancerous cells.
However, you can combat these effects by ensuring you have certain immune-boosting nutrients in your diet. For example, vitamin D is known to help the immune system guard against colon cancer, while reishi mushrooms are known to be effective against liver, lymphoma and lung cancer cells.
2. Damage to DNA strands
One of the most significant ways in which toxins are known to promote the growth of cancerous cells is by damaging the DNA strands. Ionizing radiation and pro-oxidant chemicals are the known culprits. Once the DNA strand is broken, it triggers mutations that spur cancer.
To counteract such action, look to antioxidants and other nutrients that reduce DNA damage. Your best bets are vitamins C and E, as well as the trace mineral selenium.
3. Endocrine disruption
You may not have given much thought to this category of environmental cancer promoters, but there are chemicals in the environment that can interact with sex hormones or their receptors to cause the development of cancerous cells. These pollutants can cause hormone-dependent cancers such as those of the prostate, uterus and breast.
Including certain nutrients in your diet, such as folic acid, vitamins C and E, and probiotics, appears to be helpful in preventing these types of cancers from getting a start, though researchers are not entirely sure how they work. Plant flavonoids, such as genistein and quercetin, also appear to be effective. It is possible they work by enhancing excretion or reducing absorption of toxins from the intestinal tract.
4. Interruption of cell death
It is normal for healthy cells to eventually die off when appropriate. But environmental toxins can actually induce what is known as “loss of apoptosis,” which means a loss of normal programmed cell death. Because of this, cancer cells are able to reproduce without any real limits. For example, the toxin aflatoxin is known to cause liver damage by switching off the gene responsible for initiating normal cell death.
Fight back against this environmentally caused cancer risk by incorporating nutrients into your diet that are known to restore the body’s normal cell self-destruction program. Examples include coffee extract, selenium and pine bark extract.
5. Liver detoxification impairment
Lastly, environmental toxins can promote cancer by impairing the liver’s natural detoxification capabilities. Your liver’s detoxification system plays a huge role in removing ingested toxins from the body as blood from the digestive tract moves through the liver before being pumped elsewhere in the body. The liver’s detoxification system works in two phases. If Phase I becomes too overwhelmed, often as the result of daily encounter with alcohol, saturated fats, exhaust fumes and other toxins, relatively harmless substances can be converted into potentially DNA-damaging carcinogens.
During Phase II, the liver adds a substance to any toxic chemicals passing through it, making them more water soluble so that they can be excreted via bile or urine. By relying on cancer-preventing nutrients that regulate Phase I actions and promote the toxin-neutralizing actions of Phase II, you can improve liver function. Examples of helpful nutrients include curcumin, folic acid, and garlic, among others.
Be aware of cancer-causing toxins
Keeping track of all the environmental toxins you may encounter that can cause cancer can seem like a formidable task. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, begin by identifying some of the most prominent sources of cancer.
The most common environmental cancer-causing toxins includes:
• Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
• Heterocyclic amines
• Heavy metals
• Pesticides, insecticides and herbicides
• Heterocyclic amines
• Electromagnetic field radiation
• UV radiation
While it is impossible to avoid all cancer-causing environmental toxins, it is important to be aware of the most prominent sources, most of which you will encounter daily in food, water, cell phone use and even sunshine. And, of course, do everything you can to keep your inner (and outer) terrain clean and healthy.
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