Cancer is not one disease—it is a complex illness with more than 200 variations. Cancer results from the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells beginning with damage to the DNA of a cell with the cell losing its ability to repair the damage. Healthy cells contain tumor suppressor gens which suppress cell division to allow a damaged cell to repair itself or, if the damage is too great, to self destruct.
Tumor suppressor genes are susceptible to damage or mutation and are often underactive in cancer cells.
Cancer is caused by many contributing factors over a period of time.
The causes of cancer are difficult to identify because it takes years for these interdependent precipitating factors to culminate into a cancer diagnosis. Cancer causing agents (carcinogens) and cancer promoting activities work together to encourage the development and spread of cancer.
In most cases, no single carcinogen, genetic predisposition, or lifestyle factor is sufficient to be considered the sole cause of cancer.
Myth: Cancer is primarily linked to genetic makeup, rather than lifestyle.
Reality: The opposite is true – diet and lifestyle are fundamental influences.
Although the potential causes of cancer are numerous, they can be placed into these basic four categories:
1. Genetics and family history (5-10%)
2. Obesity and dietary habits (35%)
3. Other lifestyle factors such as smoking, sedentary behavior, and alcohol use (30%)
4. Environmental exposures (25%)
To demonstrate how these four factors influence each other consider the following:
The Good News: Prevention strategies can reduce the chances of cancer genes becoming activated!!!