As a Primary Care practice, we focus on preventing disease over treating it. An example we use is that regular oil changes on a car will preserve the drive train and make eventual repairs easier and less costly. Preventing cancer is similar in the human body.
Leading Causes of Cancer
We know that inflammation, genetic factors, environment, stress, obesity, smoking, chemical exposure, infections, and diet contribute to cancer.
The main approach is to minimize the cellular insults that could contribute to somatic mutations – mutations in genes that take place in our cells outside of reproductive cells.
Mutations in reproductive cells are referred to as germline mutations. One way to think about it is that most cancers we experience as adults are somatic mutations due to the abovementioned factors.
Therefore, we know that we can prevent cancer by minimizing somatic mutations in our genes.
Most Common Cancers
The most common cancers are listed below, and these cancers are worth preventing first:
- Breast cancer
- Lung cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Skin cancer
- Cervical cancer
Minimizing the Chance of Aggressive Cancers
We do not have definitive data on this topic, but it’s fortunately something many scientists are working on. Their goal is to identify methods of making cancer less aggressive.
A less aggressive cancer will spread slower, cause less damage, and likely respond to treatments better.
Therefore, even if we can’t prevent a particular cancer, decreasing its devastation on our physiology and anatomy makes sense.
The Top Contributors
At Digital Nomad Health, we’ve learned that not everyone can do everything to prevent every disease; there’d be no time left to enjoy life.
But nearly every one of our patients can avoid the most risky carcinogens, improve their metabolism, and help their body heal.
Healing is a term used vaguely. In reference to cancer, we explain to our patients that cancer cells are quite common in the body but their ability to survive, thrive, and metastasize is low and curbed by the body’s ability to heal itself.
1. Minimizing Carcinogen Exposure
When we think of carcinogens, we might jump to pesticides, industrial chemicals, and things in disposable bottles. But these are less likely. drivers of the most common cancer as cigarettes, tobacco, and certain sugars.
If a patient can’t stop smoking, we encourage them to smoke less and take better care of their body so that it can heal itself, even if a few puffs are necessary to make it through the day.
Love to drink alcohol? Even if you can’t cut it out completely, it’s helpful to drink high-quality booz and do it with less added sugars. And definitely avoid drinking too much alcohol while burning under the UV rays.
And, of course, a carcinogen that is the toughest to manage, highly processed sugars.
2. Improve Metabolism
High intake of processed sugars and lack of exercise can hurt our metabolism. We know that fructose, among other factors, tends to increase fat storage and lead to obesity.
Eating late at night, eating very heavy meals, and not hydrating adequately have negative metabolic effects on insulin and growth factors, which increase the risk of cancer.
So, have the candy bar or sweet chocolate but either eat it with something that will slow the fructose update or have it in smaller quantities.
3. Improve Healing
We know that the body is able to heal itself. And the best way to allow it to do so is to improve our sleep and decrease our stress.
Most restorative activities tend to improve our chances of healing and restoring tissue damage and repairing DNA mutations.
We likely don’t need perfect sleep every night, but we do need some restorative sleep on a regular basis. And even though we cannot avoid stress, if we can better cope with it, it is less likely to cause any damage, decreasing the risk of cancer.