The Hidden Cancer Culprit and What You Can Do About It
In the great war against cancer, conventional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation are at battle at the front lines with the goal of eliminating cancer. However, in recent years, researchers have begun to explore another way to conquer cancer by slowing a key process in the underlying development of the disease: inflammation.
More and more scientific evidence is pointing to the role of inflammation, a cornerstone of the body’s healing response, in the development of chronic diseases. On the body’s surface, it manifests as redness, heat, swelling and pain that has the purpose of bringing more nourishment and more immune activity to a site of injury or infection. Under normal circumstances, the inflammatory response is acute and necessary to boost defenses against microbial infection and spur tissue repair and regeneration. Unfortunately, many people have ongoing internal inflammation in their bodies and those pre-cancerous cells, when in the presence of chronic inflammation, have a prime opportunity to become cancerous.
The Inflammation-Cancer Connection
The relationship between inflammation and cancer has long been recognized. We know that bacterial infections such as Helicobacter pylori can induce inflammation that increases the risk of gastric cancer, and that the hepatitis C virus can bring on liver cancer. But how does a normal healing process go so haywire that it actually promotes disease?
The process of inflammation is initiated by cell-signaling chemicals known as cytokines which contribute to a variety of degenerative diseases. When these cytokines stay overactive long term, health conditions such as dysplasia (abnormal cellular development), and autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia can develop, inflammation is often one of the factors that causes the conversion of precancerous tissue to malignancy and likely what both initiates the disease and advances metastasis. Researchers think that this happens because many of the processes involved in inflammation such as leukocyte migration and dilatation of local blood vessels with increased permeability and blood flow, are more likely to contribute to tumor growth, progression and metastasis than to cause an anti-tumor response. Despite the strong association between chronic inflammation and cancer, scientists have not yet uncovered all the molecules, pathways, and mechanisms involved and many questions about their connection still remain to be resolved.
Treating Inflammation Naturally
Nevertheless, the strong link between cancer and inflammation makes it clear that we need to reduce the external factors that induce inflammation as a preventative measure. Stress, lack of exercise, genetic predisposition, and exposure to toxins all contribute to chronic inflammation and dietary choices also play a big role too. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, reducing saturated and trans fats, consuming a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish or fish oil supplements are very helpful. Reducing intake of refined carbohydrates such as pasta and white rice and eating plenty of whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa, plus lean protein sources like chicken are other great ways to keep inflammation at bay.
4 Natural Inflammation Fighters
In terms of treatment, clinical trials for anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., COX-2 inhibitors) to prevent cancer and as a treatment are already underway, but nature has an abundance of anti-inflammatory supplements and nutrients to offer us which can both lower cytokine levels and control the inflammatory response now. Here are a few of the top anti-inflammatory supplements out there that you can add to your nutritional protocol as effective preventatives:
Curcumin: The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has been shown time and time again to be a star when it comes to modulating chronic inflammation. Curcumin has been demonstrated to be safe in numerous human trials and has demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity, which it may exert by inhibiting of different molecules that play a role in inflammation. The antioxidant properties of curcumin seem to prevent the development of numerous inflammation markers that oxidative stress can mediate.
Green tea: Studies have found that those who regularly drink green tea have less inflammation, lower LDL cholesterol and better endothelial function than those who do not. Green tea reduces C-reactive protein and green tea catechins can successfully banish cancer cells, by slowing metastasis, inhibiting cell proliferation and inducing apoptosis. For the best benefits, choose a green tea supplement of the active catechin, EGCG.
Bromelain: A mixture of enzymes found naturally in the juice and stems of pineapples, bromelain is sometimes used the treatment of inflammation and swelling of the nose and sinuses due to surgery or injury. This proteolytic enzyme is believed to help with the digestion of protein and since bromelain appears to be absorbed by the body intact, it is often marketed as a natural anti-inflammatory for conditions such as arthritis.
Medicinal mushrooms: There is growing evidence that the bioactive compounds in mushrooms act to modulate important immune cells, due to structural diversity and variability. Medicinal mushroom polysaccharides have some of the greatest potential for structural variability and the highest capacity for carrying biological information, which means they can stimulate the immune system to fight off cancer.
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Article updated on: December 7th, 2012