Wednesday, October 24, 2012
What Causes Cancer?
Did you know that almost half of American men and one-third of women will develop cancer at some time in their lives? No wonder it is the biggest health concern of most people! (Cancer is not the leading cause of death, however; that distinction goes to heart disease.) Studies show that almost 30% of those surveyed believe there’s not much people can do to prevent cancer, and nearly 75% stated that there were too many recommendations made to know what actions to take.
Just what does cause cancer and can we do anything about it? Recently the American Cancer Society developed estimates amazingly similar to those presented 30 years ago by cancer-researchers Richard Doll and Richard Peto who estimated that smoking accounts for about 30% of all US cancer cases and poor diet and lack of exercise (resulting in overweight) are responsible for another 35%! For those that are math adverse, that’s 65% related to lifestyle. Another ten percent of cancers are caused by genes and the rest are a combination of microorganisms, hepatitis B and C viruses, Helicobacter pylori (linked to stomach cancer), reproductive factors, alcohol consumption, radiation, and finally carcinogens and environmental toxins.
So what can you do to reduce your risk? Begin by being diligent with your cancer screenings - self-exams, mammograms, colonoscopies, and the like. Test your home for radon (call the National Radon Hotline at 800-55-RADON) and your water supply for arsenic if you live in a rural area and have a private water source (contact the EPA at 800-426-4791). Limit your exposure to carcinogens in the workplace; download a governmental pocket guide to chemical hazards at cdc.gov/niosh/npg. For nine more lifestyle preventative measures, check back next week.
Source: UC Berkeley WellnessLetter Special Supplement Preventing Cancer