Monday, 5 January 2015

Cancer - Bad Luck or Bad Lifestyle?

Scientists at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have released information saying most cancers are caused by bad luck rather then bad lifestyle choices.

All cancers have an element of chance - will your DNA have a mutation that leads to cancer. Whilst some are simply bad luck and some are indeed caused by genetics - many cancer cases are caused by the lifestyle choices we make. The main thing to take away from these findings is that early detection is key for ALL cancers and everyone should be vigilant with their health AND ready to seek testing if something is not right - regardless of your lifestyle and genetics.

I'm not a scientist and this site should never be treated as a scientific site but the facts and the hours of research I do for my posts speak for itself - the most common and deadly types of cancer are heavily influenced by certain lifestyle factors. More then four in ten cases of cancer in the UK (600,000 PER YEAR) could be prevented if we led healthier lives. So today's blog post will focus on the numerous lifestyle causes of cancer.
Smoking: There are thousands of people every year who are diagnosed with cancer because they have a smoking habit. Years of research has proven very clear links between cancer and smoking. In fact smoking kills five times more people then road accidents, murder, suicide, HIV and overdoses in the UK. One in every four cancer deaths in the UK is directly caused by smoking. a fifth of all cancer cases in the UK are also directly caused by smoking. Cancer Research research shows that smoking is the most important PREVENTABLE cause of cancer in the world.
More then four in five cases of Lung Cancer are caused by smoking. Lung Cancer has one of the lowest survival rates. it is the most common cause of cancer in the UK. Most of these cases are preventable if you give up smoking and allow your lungs to recover.
As well as Lung Cancer, smoking also increases your risk of over a dozen other cancers:
* Mouth
* Larynx (Voicebox)
* Pharynx (Upper Throat)
* Nose and Sinuses
* Oesophagus (Food Pipe)
* Liver
* Pancreas
* Stomach
* Kidney
* Bladder
* Cervix
* Bowel
* One type of Ovarian
* Some types of Leukaemia
* There is also evidence to suggest smoking can increase the risk of you developing Breast Cancer

Now some people can smoke their entire lives and not develop cancer. This doesn't mean smoking doesn't cause cancer; it means they are lucky. Smokers are, on average, more likely to get cancer then a non-smoker is.Half of all smokers eventually die from cancer or other smoking related illnesses. A quarter of smokers dies in middle age (between 35 and 69 years old)
Why Smoking Causes Cancer:
There are at least 80 cancer causing substances in tobacco smoke. As you inhale the smoke these chemicals are released into your lungs and spread about your body. According to scientists; these chemicals can actually damage your DNA and mutate important genes, making your cells grow and multiply until they are out of control.
Give Up Now and Make A Difference!
Researchers and campaigners have worked hard to educate people on the dangers of smoking and thanks to our hard work the number of people smoking in the UK has halved within the last fifty years. That also means that the number of Lung Cancer deaths has also halved. More work is being done (I will reveal our latest Ambassador campaign very soon!) and people are working very hard to continue making progress in this area. The fact remains that 33,000 are still killed by Lung Cancer every year and it seems that the number of people taking up smoking is catching up with the number of people giving up.
Alcohol - Alcohol can cause seven types of cancer:
* Mouth cancer
* Pharyngeal cancer (upper throat)
* Oesophageal cancer (food pipe)
* Laryngeal cancer (voice box)
* Breast cancer
* Bowel cancer
* Liver cancer
Around 12,500 cases if cancer in the UK every year are caused by alcohol. That is around 4% of cases. Mouth cancer rates have increased dramatically and that may be due to higher levels of drinking and smoking in this country. Drinking alcohol doesn't not mean you are guaranteed to get cancer but scientists have discovered that cancer is more common in people who drink alcohol.
How Much Alcohol Increases Your Chances?
You don't have to have an addiction to alcohol or be a binge drinker to have an increased risk of cancer. Three units a day is all it takes to increase your risk, so a large glass of wine or a pint of beer! Obviously the more you drink, the higher your chances. Heavy, regular drinking can also lead to liver cancer, heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, pancreatitis and injuries caused by stumbling about. 
"Safe" Drinking
If you really do like to have a daily drink then the recommended allowance is:
* Two units for women (one small glass of something)
* Three to four units for men (two small glasses of something)
There is only a limited risk but please do remember that some drinks contain more alcohol then you would think! 
Binge Drinking or Daily Drinking?
It really doesn't make much of a difference if you binge drink at the weekend or drink small amounts every day: it's the total amount of alcohol consumed over time that has effect on your cancer risk. You are more likely to develop cancer if you consume lots of alcohol, whether you drink it all in one night or spread it out across the week.
Drinking and Smoking
Smoking and drinking will multiply your cancer risk. Tobacco and alcohol work as a deadly team damaging cells in your body. Alcohol aids tobacco, making it easier for your mouth and throat to absorb the cancer causing chemicals found in tobacco. In fact research has shown that people who smoke and drink are FIFTY TIMES more likely to develop cancer then someone who doesn't.
What Types of Alcohol are Dangerous?
ALL types of alcohol increase your risk of cancer, even red wine. Some types may benefit your health in small does but it is very important to remember to stick to the recommended allowances and to get help if you find yourself increasingly dependent on alcohol.
Why Do The Allowances Differ for Men and Women?
There are several biological reasons why women should have less alcohol then men. 
* Female livers produce less of an enzyme that breaks down alcohol so it will stay in women's bodies for longer,
* There is evidence to suggest alcohol (one unit a day) can increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer significantly. 
* Smaller bodies absorb less alcohol then bigger bodies and women are usually smaller then men.
* Women tend to be a curvy shape with more body fat and less body water then men. This means alcohol consumed by a woman becomes more concentrated whilst in her body then it would in a man.

Exercise - We are told that thirty minutes of "moderate" activity every day, five days a week is the basic requirement for exercise to have a positive impact on your health. Obviously, the more you do, the better and the lower your cancer risk will be. It doesn't matter if you have not exercised for a while, taking it up now will still have a good effect on your health. Government research suggests only 37% of men and 25% of women are currently managing the basic amount of activity recommended for a healthy lifestyle.
Moderate Activity - Moderate activity can be cheap and quick. It is a broad term; anything that makes you feel warm and slightly out of breath counts as moderate. Examples are: a brisk walk, gardening, dancing or even housework. Small bursts of exercise throughout the day are just as useful as doing it all in one go. Inactive lifestyles are linked to over 3,000 cases of cancer every year. They can also lead to diabetes, osteoporosis, strokes and heart disease. In fact a study estimates that inactivity kills two million people worldwide every year. Regular exercise will protect your body against some cancers and helps keep your body weight at a manageable, healthy level.
Exercise and Bowel Cancer - There have been more them fifty scientific studies across the world that have shown exercise can reduce your risk of bowel cancer. In fact, the largest study proved physically active people reduce their bowl cancer risk by up to a quarter. Keeping to a healthy body weight will also reduce your risk of bowel cancer. This is because:
* Exercise help you to have regular bowel movements. This means any cancer causing substances in your food will pass through your body quicker and easier.
* Exercise reduces the amount of insulin, some hormones and some growth factors. All three of these substances can encourage tumour growth when found at high levels.
* Exercise can reduce bowel inflammation which could lead to cancer.

Exercise and Breast Cancer - Studies on exercise and breast cancer have shown that being active reduces your breast cancer risk by 20-40%. In addition to this, a study showed that every extra hour of exercise in a week will reduce your risk by a further 6%. This applies both before and after the menopause but the benefits are greater for women who have not been through the menopause yet.

Exercise and Womb Cancer - Exercise is clearly associated with reducing the risk of womb cancer and active women have a 30% lower risk then women who do not exercise regularly. For men, it is also worth noting that exercise could reduce your risk of prostate cancer.

Diet - It is believed that almost one in ten cancer cases in the UK are caused by bad, unhealthy diets.
Our diet choices can increase our risk of developing the following cancers:
* Bowel cancer
* Stomach cancer
* Mouth cancer
* Oesophagus (food pipe) cancer
* Breast Cancer

A Healthy Diet
The link between cancer and your diet is really complicated. Our diet is made up of lots of different food and they all provide us with different nutrients. Most of these will affect our cancer risk, especially when combined with others. Your genetic make up also affects how your diet affects your cancer risk. Many scientists are busy conducting research studies how food protect or cause cancer and their results are beginning to filter through to cancer charities and doctors.
We do know that a healthy, balanced diet will help reduce your cancer risk. Here are some tips on what food to enjoy and avoid in order to maintain a balanced diet:
Fruit and Vegetables - These are really important and can affect your risk of mouth and throat cancers. Fruit and veg are a really good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and folate. They are also a brilliant source of fibre. Try to aim for at least five pieces a day. Try to enjoy a wide variety of colours when it comes to your fruit and veg as it will mean you receive a broader range of vitamins and minerals. The chemicals that give a fruit it's colour is usually the same ones that are good for you.
Meat - having lots of red meat or processed meat can increase your bowel cancer risk as well as stomach cancer. Eating white meat, such as chicken, will probably not increase your cancer risk. If like Leo and I, you love your meat, you don't need to abstain completely. You can enjoy small portions and try to make sure you don't over cook it at high temperatures as this can produce cancer causing chemicals.
Red Meat includes beef, pork and lamb. It doesn't matter if it is fresh or frozen.
Processed Meat includes ham, salami, bacon and sausages
Salt - salt can increase your risk of stomach cancer and nasopharync (the part where your nose connects with your throat) cancer. Using small amounts of table salt when cooking is unlikely to increase your cancer risk. It is also important to remember too much salt can increase your chances of having high blood pressure, heart disease or a stroke so try not to eat too much of it. Please check the salt intake of the foods you buy, especially if you are partial to a ready meal.
Fibre - foods that contain lots of fibre can reduce your bowel cancer risk by a quarter. So eat plenty of fruit and veg, wholegrain cereals, wholegrain bread, brown rices and pulses. Fruits and veg especially high in fibre include peas, avocados, apples, berries, spinach and pairs. Moderate amounts of fibre are found in carrots, oranges, broccoli, green beans, brussel sprouts and corn.
* Fats - fats are necessary to our diets but the key is to enjoy it in moderation as a high fat diet can increase the risk of cancer, heart disease and plenty more conditions. Evidence suggests to much saturated fat can increase your risk of breast cancer. Try to keep track of your fat intake, trying to avoid too much saturated fat (butter, cheese, fatty meat, biscuits and crisps.) Try semi-skimmed milk rather then full fat. Try to avoid frying your food as much as you can.
Tanning - There are two main types of skin cancer:
Malignant melanoma - the most serious type. Usually develops in the outer layer of your skin. Visible signs of melanoma incluse moles changing the way they look or feel. Malignant melanoma is one of the fastest rising cancers in the UK and have risen by more then four times since the 1970's. worryingly, we see more melanoma deaths then Australia, although they have more cases of the disease. Melanoma is a cancer that affects young adults. It is the second most common cancer seen in people aged between fifteen and thirty four. However, your risk of developing the disease increasing as you get older. Melanoma is more common in women then in men. Most commonly found on a woman's leg or a man's torso.
Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is more common then melanoma and easier to treat. It is commonly found on areas of the body exposed to the sun frequently (head, neck, arms and hands) There are two types of NMSC and they both tend to affect older people.
BASAL CELL CANCER is more common. Slow to grow and usually begins as a small flattened lump. It can be red, pale or pearly and sometimes scaly, almost like eczema.
SQUAMOUS CALL CANCER is more serious and can spread if left untreated. It appears as persistent scaly spots, lumps or ulcers which bleed easily and are red in appearance.
Early Diagnosis Saves Lives - Being conscious of your skin and noticing any changes is key to diagnosing skin cancer and saving lives. Make sure you know where your moles are and monitor them regularly. If any changes in size, shape or colour occur then get to your GP as quickly as possible. Skin cancer is much easier to treat in it's early stages.
Risk Factors - Some people have a higher risk of developing skin cancer then others. These people will have one or more of the following factors:
* Fair skin that burns easily
* Lots of moles and/or freckles
* Frequent sunburn
* Red or fair hair
* Light coloured eyes
* A family history of skin cancer
* Personal history of skin cancer
How Can I Try To Prevent Skin Cancer? - There are things you can do to try and protect your skin. Wearing SP15+ suncream, covering up as best you can and finding shade during peak sun hours (12-4) all help look after your skin and protect it from harmful UV rays. Avoiding sunbeds is obviously a huge factor, you are 75% more likely to develop cancer if you use sunbeds even once before you turn thirty five. If you really do need a tan then I really do encourage you to use a fake tan spray rather then running to the sunbed; your skin and your health will thank you for it.

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