The Big C: Many people contract it and many more live in fear of it. Even more critical than a cure is knowing how to prevent cancer in the first place.
Worldwide, there are over fourteen million new cases of cancer reported every year. The annual death rate from cancer (of which a third is attributable to smoking tobacco) is over eight million people worldwide. (1) The number of new cancer diagnoses is expected to rise by seventy percent in the next twenty years. (2)
Personal risk factors for cancer include:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor diet
- Exposure to environmental toxins
- Substance abuse (including alcohol)
- Immune system dysfunction
What is Cancer?
Cancer occurs when normal cell reproduction and growth go awry. Abnormal cells grow more rapidly than normal cells and are more able to move around the body, potentially spreading cancer to other areas. Because they are abnormal, their lifespan is longer than that of normal cells, which grow, age, and die at regular rates. (3)
Sometimes abnormal cells clump together, forming tumors. In some types of cancer (e.g., leukemia), tumors don’t form but cancerous cells linger or travel via the bloodstream or lymphatic system. Because these cells don’t act as they should, they can interfere with normal bodily processes.
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The dangers that cancerous cells pose are:
- Normal cells can’t grow fast enough to keep up and overtake the growth of abnormal cells.
- The immune system becomes overwhelmed in fighting cancer cells and becomes further compromised.