Cancer: Where Are We Now?

Lab researchFrom avoiding BPAs to eating more cauliflower, research over the past decade has helped us transform our lives in many ways to one with a lower risk of cancer. But is it enough? How far has science come in helping us prevent cancer in society, and do enough people know about how to reduce their risk of developing cancer? Thanks in part to groundbreaking research and educational efforts, some cancer rates have declined. For example, according to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer death rates have declined 32 percent, and lung cancer rates in women are starting to decline for the first time in decades.

In laboratories around the world, cancer researchers are looking into the effects of lifestyle factors (diet, physical activity), chemical exposure (cosmetics, household cleaners, pesticides) and genetics on cancer. A quick glance at two new cancer research studies published in March 2014 offers insight into how lifestyle and cancer risk are entwined.

When a group of German researchers reviewed the literature, they concluded that being physically active is positively associated with a decreased risk of bladder cancer. Another study published this month on cancer prevention concluded that a diet rich in animal protein increased cancer death risk four-fold in adults aged 50-65. Interestingly, this risk declined if the protein was plant-derived. Here at myWholeLife, this comes as no surprise. A similar healthy lifestyle is the foundation of holistic health.

The World Cancer Research Fund has created reports on various types of cancer (breast, colon, endometrial, ovarian and pancreatic cancer), highlighting scientifically researched risk factors for each, including the relative strength of evidence. Such factors include maintaining a healthy body weight, being physically active and avoiding the consumption of toxic foods and beverages (processed meats, alcohol). Using this information (see table below), you can take steps towards creating a healthy lifestyle that is best for your personal needs, hopefully reducing the risk of cancer.

An even healthier future with lower rates of cancer is possible if more people can be educated on both the importance of a healthy holistic lifestyle and how to accomplish it. Research-based, helpful information resources can help, particularly if they identify what is important to your personal health and provide easy ways to live healthier. Here at myWholeLife we believe that everyone has a right to the benefits of science-based holistic nutrition, so we’ve created research-backed, helpful, innovative resources including blogs, eNewsletters, ebooks and apps. Come explore more, and watch for our April blog discussing cancer therapies and prevention.

Risk Factors for Cancer Based on Strength of Scientific Evidence

Decreases Risk Increases Risk
Pancreatic Cancer Body fat**
Breast Cancer Lactation*, Physical activity** Alcoholic drinks**, body fat**, abdominal fat*, adult weight gain*
Ovarian Cancer Body fat*
Colon Cancer Physical activity**, foods containing fiber**, Garlic*, Milk*, Calcium* Red and processed meat**, alcoholic drinks (in men)**, body and abdominal fat**, alcoholic drinks (women)*
Endometrial Cancer Physical activity*, coffee* Body fat**, glycemic load*

*Convincing evidence ** Probably evidence

References:

American Cancer Society: Cancer Research Update

Gerlic, M. et al. Low Protein Intake Is Associated with a Major Reduction in IGF-1, Cancer, and Overall Mortality in the 65 and Younger but Not Older Population. Cell Metabolism, Volume 19, Issue 3, 407-417, 4 March 2014.

Keimling, M et al. The association between physical activity and bladder cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Cancer 2014 Mar 4; doi: 10.1038/bjc.2014.77.  

World Cancer Research Fund International