We truly have a cancer epidemic in the West. While it's difficult to pinpoint precise reasons why someone gets it, there are well-known risk factors, and any recent success in fighting this deadly disease could probably be contributed more to the awareness campaigns promoting healthier lifestyle than any ground-breaking treatments , as this article shows:
The rise and fall of cancer deaths track the rise and fall of smoking, with a lag of a couple of decades. Cigarette consumption in the U.S. more than doubled between 1930 and the early 1970s and has fallen steadily since then, according to the nonprofit site Our World in Data. Smoking raises the risk of many cancers but especially of lung cancer, which is by far the biggest killer, accounting for more deaths than colon, breast and prostate cancer combined.
Yes, it's not only about lung cancer, either:
Smoking causes cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, cervix, colon, and rectum, as well as acute myeloid leukemia (1–3).
The risks are higher if smoking is combined with alcohol consumption, but alcohol has quite a reputation of its own:
Alcohol use has been linked with cancers of the:
pancreas and stomach.
There appears to be the link to prostate cancer, too, and to melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers. Still think it's cool to be a wine aunt or wine mom? What about alcohol and heart health? Grape juice appears to provide many of the same benefits:
Red wine is often praised in the media for its purported health benefits. But turns out, you don't necessarily have to drink alcohol to benefit from the health-boosting properties of red wine polyphenols: Grape juice made from red, purple, or other dark-skinned grapes contains those very same polyphenols!
The next huge risk factor is being obese and overweight. Big may be beautiful to some people, but healthy it is not:
here is consistent evidence that higher amounts of body fat are associated with increased risks of a number of cancers (6), including:
- Endometrial cancer
- Esophageal adenocarcinoma
- Gastric cardia cancer
- Liver cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Meningioma( brain tumor)
- Pancreatic cancer.
- Colorectal cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Thyroid cancer
Most impressive, don't you think so?
Kinda makes you want to hit this treadmill, doesn't it? But wait, exercise alone won't help, if you are generally sedentary, as sedentary lifestyle is another risk factor (with watching TV being the unhealthiest activity of them all):
Sedentary behavior was associated with a 24% greater risk of developing colon cancer, a 32% higher risk of endometrial cancer, and a 21% increased risk of lung cancer. When the researchers delved deeper into different types of sedentary habits, they found that watching TV was linked to a 54% higher risk of colon cancer and a 66% greater risk of endometrial cancer. For every additional two hours that participants spent sitting during the day, their risk of colon cancer rose by 8%, and their risk of endometrial cancer went up by 10%. They didn’t find a link between sedentary behavior and other types of cancer, including breast, prostate, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
It also increases the risk of kidney and bladder cancer.
Contrary to some paleo claims, sugar on its own doesn't cause cancer, while processed meat does increase the risk modestly (according to a European study, I think it was Oxford EPIC study, the risk appears to raise when you consume more than 20g processed or 160g of red meat a day, with no risks attached to fish and poultry but I don't have the link any more), however, there is some link between sugar and cancer:
Consuming too many sugar calories can lead to obesity and high insulin levels, which would contribute to your increased cancer risk. Cut back on sugar-loaded foods such as candy, baked goods, sugary cereals, and sodas to reduce your cancer risk. Balance your diet with plant foods, fish, and whole grains—parts of a healthy diet that have been linked to a lower risk of cancer.
There appears to be no one magic ingredient in your food which you just have to exclude not to get sick (outside alcohol, that it), it's more about overall healthy eating patterns and staying lean and fit.
And the last but not least, promiscuity:
Experts found older women who had ten or more lifetime lovers were 91 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with the disease, compared to those who only had one.
Men aren't off the hook, either:
And promiscuous men saw their chances of a tumour rocket by 69 per cent.
So to sum it up, the current research highlights 4 major risk factors for getting most types of cancer: smoking, drinking, being overweight/obese and sedentary lifestyle. Promiscuity and unhealthy diet contribute, too. There are of course, many more like stress, exposure to dangerous chemicals, in some cases family history, but most of those things are outside our control, unlike those factors listed above. Taking good care of your and your family's health is a good priority for everyone, so I hope this helps!
P.S. Here is the link highlighting the dangers of second-hand smoke. Among other things, it's linked to some cancers in children, like brain cancer. I seriously don't get it that some people still keep doing it...