What is Cancer? Why cancer happens? how to stop it?
research in progress
Cancer has become a common word among people these days. The population suffering from cancer has largely increased. Even if you are cancer-free, chances are, you know someone who has the disease and it affects you in some way. This article aims to outline the causes of cancer, how it can be prevented or stopped and to expound the relationship between cancer and antioxidants. But first…
What is cancer?
Cancer, simply put is a disease caused by the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a concentrated part of the body, which later spread to surrounding tissues. Cancer is a name given to a collection of diseases with this similar characteristic.
The normal, healthy cycle of human cells happens such that when cells grow old or get damaged, they die and are replaced by others. When cancer develops, however, this system is not orderly anymore. As cells become damaged, instead of dying, they continue to survive and others are formed when they are not needed. These extra cells can continuously divide, causing tumours. These can either be malignant or benign. Malignant tumours spread into and invade nearby tissues. They also sometimes break off and travel to other parts of the body. Benign tumours, on the other hand, may be large but do not spread into or invade other issues.
When our bodies are exposed to carcinogens (Substances directly responsible for destroying DNA) free radicals form and damage other cells. Examples of carcinogens include tobacco, arsenic, asbestos, radiation and chemical compounds.
How can you stop cancer?
If you research how to stop cancer, you will find a host of conflicting information. This is because new discoveries and possible treatments are constantly being made. The common fact that you will find, however, is that in order to prevent or treat cancer, it highly depends on the lifestyle choices you decide to take. This includes eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and letting go of habits that will put you in more risk.
What is the role of antioxidants in cancer treatment?
Antioxidants are natural chemicals that interact with and neutralise free radicals. Free radicals are chemicals that are given off in normal body processes that have the ability to harm cells. The body naturally releases antioxidants to fight these, but when in abundance, they can be hazardous. Free radicals that damage DNA, in particular, can play a role in cancer development.
Antioxidants, therefore, work by eliminating free radicals that potentially cause cancer. They are obtained from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and include beta-carotene, lycopene and vitamins E, C, the spreadA. Antioxidants can also be found in wine, green tea and chocolate.
When it comes to cancer treatment using antioxidants, there are two camps. One says that antioxidants can alter the effects of chemo and radiation while another says that oxidation increases the spread of malignant tumours.
Generally, patients being treated for a possible cure or undergoing radiation therapy are asked not to take antioxidants supplements, while those with advanced cancer are allowed to take antioxidant supplements to try and treat the disease.