Cancer prevention basically involves living a health life. But even living a perfectly healthy life is no guaranty of not getting cancer. Only a few significant things have been scientifically proven to prevent cancer. Not using tobacco and limiting radiation exposure are the two most documented cancer preventions. The rest of cancer prevention is based on common sense and studies about healthy living. There are so many different toxins in our environment that it is difficult to do long term studies to find individual effects on specific tissues at low levels.
Cancer from tobacco use
The most documented cancer-causing agent is tobacco, causing aggressive lung, throat and mouth cancer. Tobacco use is also correlated with colon cancer, heart disease and gum disease. The mouth has over 2,000 different cell types, which all can become cancerous. Yet of all the mouth cancers found, 98 percent are the one type, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, directly related to tobacco use. Squamous Cell Carcinoma is very malignant and is usually lethal if not caught early. Your dentist should check any sore in your mouth that lasts over 1-2 weeks.
The type of tobacco used will affect where the cancer is found. Cigarette smokers often have cancer on the tongue, throat or lungs. With tobacco chewers the cancer is found where the chew is placed, usually under the lip. With pipe and cigar smokers, it is most often found on the lip or roof of the mouth.
Nicotine is physically addicting and a difficult drug to quit. If you haven’t started using tobacco, don’t. If you smoke, quit. If you can’t quit, reduce as much as possible. If you chew, quit. If you can’t stop, at least move it around to different spots in your mouth. Stopping tobacco use is the best thing you can do for your health!
Cancer from sun exposure
Radiation from the sun is a well-documented cancer-causing agent. Luckily the most common skin cancer from the sun, basal cell carcinoma, is not malignant. Usually it can be removed effectively with surgery since it does not spread throughout the body. But it can be aggressive locally, so it is best to have it removed early. Also reoccurrence and cosmetics are a concern since it is usually found on the face. The lower lip, nose and forehead are the most common areas for skin cancer from sun exposure. Dermatologists make a career out of this cancer in retirement communities in sunny Arizona. It is best to stay covered up, avoid sunburns and use sunscreen. Sunburn as a child is shown to correlate to skin cancer when older so keep the kids covered up!
Melanoma is a life-threatening, malignant cancer and correlated with sun exposure. The rate of melanoma has increased dramatically, doubling in the past 40 years. Tanning beds should be avoided. The ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning far exceeds that of the natural sun. About 30 million Americans use tanning beds each year and are linked to the rise in skin cancer in young people, particularly melanoma. Even though melanoma is on the rise, deaths from melanoma are declining from earlier detection and improved treatments.
So what common sense things do I recommend to help prevent cancer in addition to not smoking and reducing sun radiation? Eat a balanced diet with reasonable portions, combining protein, carbohydrates, fats and lots of fruits and vegetables. Preferably use polyunsaturated fats especially olive oil, complex carbohydrates rather than simple sugars and lean meats, nuts, beans and soy products. Try eating organic foods without chemical treatments as much as possible. Try chewing smaller food portions thoroughly, savoring the flavor, rather than eating vast quantities quickly. Antioxidant foods or vitamins, high in vitamin C and E are good for cancer prevention, including moderate amounts of red wine and chocolate.
Drink lots of good water, bottled or filtered. Our bodies are 98 percent water, so quality water is important. Breath good clean air through one’s nose. Keep moving. Moderate daily exercise improves our circulatory system and lymphatic system, which are important for removing toxins and the movement of cancer fighting cells. Dancing, walking, bicycling, swimming and gardening are all great movement activities. Sweating is wonderful for toxin removal either from exercise or the sauna.
Stress relief is extremely important and becoming more and more difficult in our speeded-up world. Keep a balance in life between activity and rest. Make time for rest and sleep. Use exercise, mediation, yoga, and music, singing or dancing to release stress and help regulate your body in a healthy way. Having a positive attitude reduces stress. You can pick your own attitude every morning, so pick an uplifting joyous one. Have fun each day.
Have humor and laugh! Laughing has been shown to boost the immune system, reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Make time for family, friends and make time for love and romance.
After my bout with cancer 16 years ago, I have had a new lease on life. It is a joy to be doing all tasks, even washing the dishes or take out the garbage. I particular enjoy my work now, and think of myself as a healer, helping people with their dental needs and overall health.
Study of societies with longevity
There was a study done forty years ago that compared many isolated societies around the world that were all known for living to an old age, and having many individuals living into their hundreds. They were all found to have several things in common. They all had pure clean air and water. They drank moderate amounts of locally made alcohol like red wine. They ate a balance diet with moderate portions and low amounts of meat, using locally grown foods without chemical treatments of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. They all were agriculture societies where each day they did communal hard labor in the fields, getting regular exercise. There was tight community and family interaction and support. People had a purpose in their culture. The elderly had respect and activity and purpose till the day they died.
And they all had great dental treatment and saw their dentist at least two times a year. No, I made that up, but they did have less tooth decay, because they had no refined sugars.
ENJOY LIFE AND KEEP SMILING!
George Malkemus has a Family and Cosmetic Dental Practice in Rohnert Park at 2 Padre Parkway, Suite 200. Call 585-8595, or email info@ malkemusdds.com. Visit Dr. Malkemus’ web site at http://www.malkemusdds.com