Last weekend I attended a 2 and a half day course on collaborative oncology. It was both inspiring and hard going as we learned about how herbal medicine can be used in support of the treatment of cancer. From improving vitality of cancer patients so they are strong enough to undergo the trauma of treatment, to reducing the side effects of chemo and radiotherapy and post treatment management. There is so much to learn because there is so much that herbal medicine can help with.
However that wasn't the most important thing that I learned last weekend.
The most important thing I learned was that there are things we can do to prevent cancer and we can start doing them now.
Let me explain why….
Cancer cells develop when our DNA mutates. This happens all the time, particularly as we get older. Our immune and our cell control systems have many strategies for killing off potentially mutated cells and mopping up the debris. Occasionally though, the mutated cell is allowed to replicate, then these cells replicate and gradually over time a cancerous tumour grows.
The time it takes from a DNA strand mutating to a tumour being large enough to be noticed can be many years. This is not necessarily something to worry about as our bodies have the most amazing ability to heal themselves and frequently mutated cells are killed off. We just need to provide the right conditions for that to happen.
Here are three ways you can starting doing that today.
1. Ditch sugar
Healthy cells are fuelled by something called the Krebs cycle. Cancer cells, on the other hand, are not very good at getting energy via this route. And cancer cells need lots of energy! So where do they get it from?
The answer is sugar. Cancer cells love it. It helps them grow and become strong. It creates the right environment in our bodies to allows cancer cells to avoid our immune system and multiply.
And this is true for many types of cancers. In fact it is estimated that more that 35% of cancers are due to our diet. Avoiding sugar is one small change you can make that can allow your body to protect itself from mutated, potentially cancerous cells.
2. Move more
Research shows that 30% of cancers are due to our sedentary lifestyle. From breast cancer to colon cancer, we lower our risk of getting cancer dramatically by just moving more.
You don't have to be a gym bunny to lower your cancer risk. Try setting an alarm every 55 mins and go for a 5 minute wander, or go for a lunchtime or after dinner walk.
It doesn't matter what you do, it's never too late to get a bit fitter and lower your cancer risk.
3. Chill out
Chronic stress may not be a cause of cancer however it will affect how your body reacts to cancerous and mutated cells. It is long known that long term stresses reduces our immune function making us more susceptible to disease..... and this means cancer too!
Short term or acute stress isn't necessarily a problem but if you find it lingering, it's time to take action. The best way to act is to remove the cause of your stress but if that's not possible then why not try some relaxation techniques or some herbal medicine to help.
Our health is in our control. Leading a more healthier lifestyle, be that through improving our diet and fitness or our mental well-being, can reduce the risk of serious health issues such as cancer. What's stopping you?