Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How to Prevent Cancer

We know what causes cancer and the roles that cancer-causing chemicals and inflammation play in the development and progression of cancer. We know that we need to avoid cancer-causing chemicals, but without inflammation even a cancerous cell cannot progress or spread throughout the body. To prevent cancer, then, what we need to do is to reduce our exposure to cancer-causing chemicals and substances and concurrently reverse the inflammatory process. Fortunately, there is a large body of evidence that shows us the things that contribute to inflammation as well as those that are anti-inflammatory. The main reason that aspirin has gained so much popularity during the past 30 years has been its anti-inflammatory effect that can reduce both cancer and cardiovascular disease rates.

Anti-inflammatory processes are rooted in both our lifestyle and the foods we eat. Exercise, reducing your calorie intake and relaxation processes such as meditation are all anti-inflammatory. They trigger master genes and a subsequent cascade of genes that activate the anti-inflammatory biochemistry in the body. However, research suggests that these lifestyle processors are active and not passive in as much that the exercise has to create some exertion on the body, the reduction in calories needs to be 20% to 30% and the relaxation needs to be focused. An hour or two of sunlight each day produces vitamin D, which is not only necessary for the health and well being of every individual, but is also anti-inflammatory. A large amount of research is now showing that most people in Western countries are severely deficient in vitamin D.

Anti-inflammatory foods include the thousands of food components derived from plant sources found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, herbs and spices. It appears that many of the antioxidants that we find in these foods also have potent anti-inflammatory qualities. For example, turmeric—a bright orange spice found in lots of curries—is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammation nutrient. The enzymes found in some foods, particularly pineapple, pawpaw and mango, are absorbed into the blood and have anti-inflammatory effects. Enzymes in the blood play a major role in breaking down the inflammatory processes once they have been initiated in the body. This is especially important as we age and our anti-inflammatory enzymes decrease dramatically.

The omega 3 fatty acids (fish oils EPA and DHA) and to a lesser degree the omega 9 (olive and avocado oil) are anti-inflammatory. These high-energy foods are reminiscent of the hunter-fisher-gatherer diet with which we evolved and which dramatically reduces our rates of all chronic illness, including most cancers.

Probiotics, the beneficial bacteria in the gut, have a strong anti-inflammatory effect. This starts at birth and plays a significant role in the source of allergies in infants and children. If the wrong bacteria or fungi take hold in the gut of an infant as a result of caesarean birth, antibiotics given to the mother or infant, or some exposure to antibacterial chemicals such as cleaning products, this dramatically increases the risk of developing allergies such as asthma, eczema and severe allergies to foods including peanuts and fish. These occur as a result of the bacteria or fungi stimulating the inflammatory responses of the immune system (Th2). It appears that we have evolved with a range of positive bacteria, particularly bifidobacteria that keep our gut and immune system in balance (Th2/Th1 balance). A dysbiotic gut is a contributing factor to many inflammatory gut illnesses ranging from Celiac disease to irritable bowel and Crohn’s disease.

Other contributors to inflammatory processes are many aspects of our modern diet, obesity, poor digestion and chronic stress. Fat cells are inflammatory. They appear to be a secondary part of our immune system that developed in our evolution to protect us from the viruses and bacteria that threatened our lives as hunter-fisher-gatherers. By producing inflammation, fat cells protected us from these viruses and bacteria when we were able to put on a little bit of extra weight in times of plenty. We now have too much “plenty” and, as a result, too much fat and too much inflammation. Our bodies were not designed for the abundances of the 21st century.

Foods that feed inflammation include the omega 6 vegetable oils, saturated fats and protein derived from animal sources such as meat and dairy, trans-fatty acids and highly processed foods. The danger of these foods is that they are not only inflammatory but also have replaced many anti-inflammatory foods, exacerbating the problem even further.

Finally, many of the chemicals to which we are exposed can contribute to inflammation either directly or indirectly. These include our everyday domestic chemicals such as a cleaning and personal care products right through to the chemicals that are known to cause cancer. The best thing we all can do is to reduce our exposure to synthetic chemicals around the home and at work.

Not only do you dramatically reduce your risk of cancer by adopting an anti-inflammatory lifestyle and diet but also you reduce your risk of all forms of chronic illness from Alzheimer’s to cardiovascular disease and arthritis. Incremental and thoughtful changes can mean the difference between health and suffering—and even between life and death.


  1. I think you take a very NARROW-MINDED view of the causes of cancer. The truth is that NOBODY knows enough about what causes cancer but I would argue that GENETIC FACTORS FAR OUTWEIGH ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS.

    Cancer is hereditary. There are numerous examples of this (ex. breast cancer). There is no need to give in to rampant chemo-phobia and blame chemicals when we know that many people are quite simply BORN WITH CANCER CAUSING GENES.

    Human beings do not respect natural selection. If a family has a high incidence of cancer, they do not stop breeding. If a couple cannot conceive naturally (perhaps a message that they will not produce viable offspring?), they will get hormone treatments, IVF, etc. If infants are born with cancer, we do everything we can to keep them alive and encourage them to breed (if they live that long). I am not an advocate of selective breeding, however, I cannot ignore the fact that we do nothing to curb the spread of known genetic illnesses - thus increasing the incidence of those diseases. We don't have to blame "chemicals" we can just look in the mirror if we want something/one to blame!!!

    Cancer is simply a problem with cell replication. The reason why cancer is more common in the elderly is because the process of cell replication wears down. It becomes less perfect. It makes mistakes. Like photocopying a photocopy trillions of times - the DNA gets less clear (telomeres shrinking etc...). Chemicals and outside factors may influence this but I believe that cancer could occur naturally if a person were to grow in a perfect bubble that filtered out all know chemical carcinogens!!!

    That is not to say that your tips for a healthy, non-inflammatory lifestyle does not have merit. Of course it does. I just think you overemphasize its importance and cause and effect relationship to cancer.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    You sound like an idiot, especially with your use of capitol letters and exclamation marks. And don't get me started on your asinine ramblings about natural selection. You are obviously a charlatan who knows absolutely nothing about cancer and its causes(or science for that matter), and have completely missed the point of Dr Dingles message. You say cancer is mostly heredity, but in fact 90-95% of cancers are caused by environmental factors, and 5-10% caused by genetic predisposition. Yes, cancer is a disease of age, and yes, it can certainly still occur to someone living in a "bubble" as you say. But would their chances increase if they were a smoker for example? of course it would. What Dr Dingle is saying is that there are many factors such as diet and lifestyle that can increase your probability of getting cancer, and he is giving us advice on how to reduce the risk. I'll repeat that again, risk.

    The funny thing is you accuse Dr Dingle of being narrow-minded and too black and white, yet the comments you've made fit those descriptions better than ever. Therefore, that makes you quite the hypocrite. Forgive me for falling back on stereotypes, but upon reading your statements I can't help but picture you as an uneducated, gun-toting fool, spitting tobacco and dragging your knuckles around whilst wearing a truckers cap that has the confederate flag printed on it.

    You sir or mam are an imbecile, and I cannot believe I have bothered to waste my time writing a reply to your absurd drivel.