Daniele from Italy, "What causes cancer?"
Anything, such as substances or radiation, that comes into contact with our cells and is not biochemically compatible with our cells. Cancer causing agents are known as carcinogens. Through the cumulative effect, these carcinogens build up in our cells and cause them to mutate. There are known carcinogens and suspected carcinogens. Examples of known cancer causing agents are the hundreds of chemicals in cigarettes, asbestos and many others. Suspected carcinogens are aspartame (diet drinks), genetically modified food, factory farmed meat and many others.
Most carcinogens (again, carcinogens are things that cause cancer) are specific to cancer sites. For example:
--the chemicals in cigarettes and asbestos target the lungs, causing about 90% of lung cancer.
--the carcinogens in red meat often affect the colon and stomach, contributing to colon and stomach cancer.
--the aluminum in some antiperspirants targets the breasts, which is suspected of contributing to breast cancer, since there are ducts that connect the armpit to the breasts.
--electromagnetic radiation from cellphones and other wireless devices are specific to certain brain cancers. The excitotoxins in aspartame are specific to certain brain cancers.
From a physiology view, each cancer is thought to start from one abnormal cell. The genes of that cell that control how cells divide and multiply seem to be damaged, so the abnormal cell does not die like the normal cell does; it multiplies and eventually results in an abnormal cells growing, resulting in a tumor.
Let's recap. Most cancers are probably due to a combination of such factors. So, what are they?
- Carcinogens -- carcinogens are cancer causing substances. There are many kinds of chemical carcinogens, the most common are tobacco smoke and workplace chemicals like asbestos.
- Age -- unfortunately, it seems the older you become, the more likely that you will develop a cancer.
- Lifestyle factors -- being physically active, eating right, keeping weight in check, not smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation seem to reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.
- Radiation -- this includes exposure to radioactive materials and nuclear fallout as well as too much sun exposure and sunburn.
- Infection - some viruses are linked to certain cancers. For example, people with persistent infection with the hepatitis B or C virus have an increased risk of developing liver cancer.
- Immune system - people with a poor immune system have an increased risk of developing certain cancers.
- Genetic make-up - some cancers have a strong genetic link. For example, in certain childhood cancers the abnormal genes which may trigger a cell to become cancerous are inherited.
So, there is no single cause of cancer. But there is something we can do to reduce the risk of getting one. And that is - maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Speaking of a healthy lifestyle -- I got to head to the gym now, but I'll see you later!