Every February 4th, we celebrate World Cancer Day by raising awareness and education about cancer. Statistics show that 12.7 million people discover they have cancer and 7.6 million die from it each year. No wonder individuals across the world are encouraged to take action in preventing the disease.
In this article, we want to raise awareness by helping you examine your current habitsó do they increase…or help reduce your cancer risk?
To start off, letís just say that there are really no guarantees when it comes to cancer prevention. However, it is commonly-accepted that your chances of developing cancer are directly affected by the lifestyle choices you make. Of course, a healthy lifestyle leads to a healthy body while poor health choices leads to the opposite.
If you’re one of those people who often make poor health choices, take comfort in the fact that itís not yet too late to change. According to Dr Susan Higginbotham, director of research at the American Institute for Cancer, ďmaking even small changes in the right direction could make a big difference and help lower the risk of cancerĒ .
Current studies show that about one third of the most common cancers could be prevented through healthy diets, physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight. American Institute for Cancer encourages the following recommendations:
- engage in physical activities;
- consume different varieties of fruit and vegetables;
- avoid sugary drinks;
- limit the consumption of salty and processed foods;
- limit alcoholic drinks;
- be as lean as possible without becoming underweight
In support of these recommendations, World Health Organization (WHO) also emphasized the benefits of exercise in preventing certain cancers. Lack of physical activity has been estimated to be the main cause for approximately 21Ė25% of breast and colon cancers. To significantly lower this risk, it is said that young adults should spend 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity .
Taking it further, some studies have suggested that stress (e.g. trauma, depression and distress etc.) has been linked to a rapid progression of the disease . In relation to this, there has been a groundbreaking health discovery where researchers suggest that the nerves that compose the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) have a central role in influencing the growth and spread of cancer. The ANS has been studied by some researchers and was found to have an imbalance in cancer patients, both after people get cancer and, more importantly, before they were diagnosed. This imbalance can be caused by stress and other emotional factors that can disrupt of our bodiesí circadian rhythms .
According to Joe Herbert, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, ďStress can disrupt the usual daily pattern of cortisol. This is particularly likely to happen if the stress is persistent, unpleasant, threatening and difficult to predict or control.Ē When persistent stress interferes with the daily pattern of cortisol, this alters the nerve signals from the brain to the rest of the body which results to disruption of bodily rhythms. This malfunction is exactly why having jet-lag or hangover is so unpleasant .
While studies linking stress and cancer are still evolving, apparent links between stress and cancer could arise even in an indirect manner. For example, people who are chronically stressed out may lean towards making poor health choices, such as smoking, overeating, or drinking alcohol, which increase a personís risk for cancer. Another concerning problem is that symptoms of stress arenít even noticed, due to the fact that it is becoming a normal state for many people. Whatís worse, you only become aware of the situation when these stresses have already developed into chronic pain and discomfort.
With these in mind, letís go back to the simple habits that you can do to bring balance to the nervous system. One is to distress through activities like yoga, meditation or any activity that can release the stress out of you. Moderate exercise, which is stated earlier, has been proven very useful.
Chiropractic care appears to improve the ability of the body to adapt to stress as well. Chiropractors apply gentle and targeted spinal adjustments to correct disturbances to your nerve function . Corrections of these areas are essential to complete healing and bringing the body back into balance. Properly functioning nerve system, starting at the health of your spine, allows your body to do what it is meant to do, which is to perform optimally.
So, what do these different studies have in common? They all show that having a healthy diet, adequate exercise and good nerve system function makes the body stronger and gives best chance to live a long and healthy life.
These three things are essentials wrapped in one package– one cannot work without the other. Even if you exercise lots but donít eat the right kind or amount of food, that is defeating your purpose of exercising in the first place. On the other hand, being dependent on a strict diet but not having enough physical activity, is not going to make you healthy as well. Most of all, an out of balanced nervous system canít be changed by just diet or exercise alone.
Prevention is better than cure, and you can get your protection from the lifestyle choices that you make. If youíre not yet there, itís not too late to make a lifestyle change. Get a Chiropractic checkup to receive a thorough assessment of your nervous system as well as expert nutrition and fitness advice.
 American Institute for Cancer, 10 Recommendations for Lowering Your Cancer Risk.
 World Health Organization, Diet, Physical Activity & Health.
 Dr. Matthew Roe, Cancer triggered by nervous system imbalances.
 Brian D. Lawenda, M.D., Stress and Cancer 101: Why Stress Reduction Is Essential.
 Joe Herbert, Ph.D, Stress Interferes With the Rhythm of Life.
 World Chiropractic Alliance, Chiropractic Influence on Oxidative Stress and DNA Repair.