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Cancer Risk

Cancer Risk—An Overview of a Deadly Threat

This overview will serve as the foundation for a series of articles on various specific types of cancer and what you and your loved ones need to know.  Our focus in this article will be to address the significance of cancer as a health threat, with the concept of Know Thine Enemy.  The more you know, the more empowered you are!!!

While incidence and mortality rates for most cancers (including lung, colorectum, female breast, and prostate) are decreasing in the United States and many other western countries, they are increasing in many countries that have begun to adopt unhealthy western lifestyles such as smoking and physical inactivity and consumption of calorie-dense food (sugary foods).  Very concerning trends have started to emerge in countries that have become progressively more westernized, in fact the rates for lung and colon cancers in a few of these countries have already surpassed those in the United States. Many developing countries also continue to be disproportionately affected by cancers related to infectious agents, such as cervix, liver, and stomach cancers. The proportion of new cancer cases diagnosed in less developed countries is projected to be more than 60% in 2030 because of the increasing trends in cancer rates and expected increases in life expectancy and growth of the population, as reported in the medical journal: Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 19(8); 1893–907. 2010

What do we know about cancer?

As Dr. Patrick Quillin infers in his book Beating Cancer with Nutrition, often we are our worst enemy as our human society now propagates the very environment in which cancer thrives. Here is an excerpt from his website, www.4Nutrition.com:

“Cancer is the leading cause of death in America.  A full 42 percent of Americans living today are expected to develop cancer in their lifetime.  Nutrition can help change the underlying environment within the body that allows cancer to thrive.  In addition it is reported that upwards of 40% of cancer patients die of malnutrition.  There are also nutrients that become low when chemotherapy is used, and it is important to address these deficits.  Avoidance of sugar and processed foods, and foods contaminated with herbicides, pesticides and those animal products that have been fed hormones is important.”

The reason that researchers have yet to eradicate cancer as a whole, is that cancer cells survive conventional therapies because they are able to quickly adapt to toxic environments, readily alter themselves to assure their continued survival and utilize complex biologic mechanisms to promote cellular immortality. All of these factors make cancer an extremely difficult disease to treat.  So what can a person do? Well first and foremost, make sure you are living a moderate life by avoiding excesses in any area of your life.  Also “eating with intention,” as I tell my patients, is critical.  There is a balance between eating to live and living to eat.

Chemotherapy drugs have a high rate of failure because they usually kill only specific types of cancer cells within a tumor, or the cancer cells mutate and become resistant to the chemotherapy.  Yet there are many things a patient can do to address many of these challenges from a natural medicine perspective.

Researchers have shown that cancer cells mutate when they are exposed to a new therapy. You might even make a comparison with how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics.  So as clinicians we have to work hard to outsmart these renegade cells.

Cancer Types and Prevalence Between Genders

I shared in the above conversation that playing detective is vitally important when working for victory with cancer. Please take a moment to look at the prevalence between breast cancer for women and prostate cancer for men.   Likewise look at trends, between men and women, like in thyroid cancer; why is it that women get more thyroid cancer?  Similarly you can look at other cancers and conjecture as to the higher or lower prevalence between males and females.

Males Females
All invasive cancer sites 12,549,000 5,809,000 6,740,000
Brain and other nervous system 135,000 71,000 65,000
Breast 2,762,000 14,000 2,747,000
Cervix 248,000 0 248,000
Colon & rectum 1,140,000 559,000 581,000
Endometrial cancer and Uterine sarcoma 590,000 0 590,000
Esophagus 32,000 25,000 7,000
Hodgkin disease 175,000 90,000 84,000
Kidney and renal pelvis 320,000 188,000 132,000
Larynx 89,000 72,000 18,000
Leukemias 272,000 153,000 119,000
Liver and bile duct 36,000 25,000 11,000
Lung and bronchus 388,000 178,000 209,000
Melanoma of skin 876,000 428,000 449,000
Multiple myeloma 71,000 38,000 33,000
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma 484,000 252,000 232,000
Oral cavity and pharynx 264,000 173,000 92,000
Ovary 183,000 0 183,000
Pancreas 38,000 19,000 20,000
Prostate 2,500,000 2,500,000 0
Stomach 70,000 40,000 30,000
Testis 211,000 211,000 0
Thyroid 497,000 109,000 388,000
Urinary bladder 554,000 411,000 143,000
Childhood cancer 

(age 0 -19 years at diagnosis)

363,000 182,000 181,000



Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2009, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, based on November 2011 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER Web site, 2012 accessed at http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2009/ on May 1, 2012.

Eating Ourselves Towards Wellness

Dr. Patrick Quillin authored a brilliant book, Beating Cancer with Nutrition.  He emphasizes that the right diet is essential for wellness.  Indeed part of the weakness of many cancers is that “they are pigs” and they need sugar to stay fueled.   Way back in 1982, in the journal Cancer Research, it was reported that “Cancer cells demonstrate a 3 to 5 fold increase in glucose uptake compared to healthy cells.”

This concern about sugar was also echoed by twice Nobel laureate, Linus Pauling PHD: “Sugar is the most hazardous foodstuff in the American diet.”  Now this is a BIG CONCERN, as the western diet, high in sugars,  has permeated and violated many a traditional diet throughout the world.

So what is a person to do?  Well lower blood sugars preventively.  This can be done by decreasing carbohydrate intake (rice, pasta, bread, fruit juice, desserts, etc.), exercising to burn up extra blood sugars, using supplements such as chromium and metabolism supportive supplements, or by increasing fiber intake to decrease sugar burden and control diabetes and pre-diabetes aggressively.

What are the Trends in Asia for Cancer?

In an article titled: Cancer Incidence Trends Among Asian American Populations in the United States, 1990 to 2008; the researchers followed national cancer trends for eight Asian American groups: Asian Indians/Pakistanis, Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, Kampucheans, Koreans, Laotians, and Vietnamese.

The results were that prostate cancer was the most common malignancy among most groups, followed by lung, colorectal, liver, and stomach cancers. Breast cancer was generally the most common cancer in women, followed by colorectal and lung cancers; liver, cervix, thyroid, and stomach cancers also ranked highly. The researchers concluded that this data fills a critical knowledge gap concerning the cancer experience of Asian American groups and highlight where increased preventive screening and surveillance efforts are needed—in particular, lung cancer among Filipina and Korean women and Asian Indian/Pakistani men, breast cancer among all women, and liver cancer among Vietnamese, Laotian, and Kampuchean women and Filipino, Kampuchean, and Vietnamese men.

Althought this study looked at Asian Americans, it is important to note thatas western influences on diet, lifestyle, stress and cultural practice move overseas, so do the diseases that accompany it. To bring this point home even further, the map below shows the increased incidence of cancer throughout the world.


Stay Tuned

My next article will explore breast cancer in great detail and will provide insights that every woman should know about.  I will also be writing articles on other specific cancers including HPV/Cervical cancer, Prostate and others.  This article served as an overview, and we will build upon it in future articles.


Health Tips On the Go!

Improve Posture

  • 1.Avoid slouching. Be aware of your posture as you walk, sit, and drive, keep shoulders squared and head pulled back and up.

  • 2.Imagine a thread pulling the top of your head toward the ceiling. Visualization can help improve your sense of position.

  • 3.If your job requires you to sit for long periods, take frequent breaks to stand, stretch and shake it out.

  • 4.Maintain a strong core to help support proper posture. Add core-training exercises to your daily routine.

  • 5.A firm mattress and ergonomic pillow help achieve proper back support while you sleep, so you'll stand straighter in the a.m.

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