Hot Topic: Cancer – The Dreaded “C”Â? Word
Cancer is one of those topics you might not choose to discuss without good reason.*Â However, as it relates to preventive health care, there are a few simple cancer facts you should know. They will help you make informed choices about your health.
Straight Talk: What is Cancer?
Healthy Cells: Our bodies are composed of trillions of cells. As cells grow and divide naturally, our bodies regulate cell production based on need. When normal cells get old or damaged, they simply die off to make room for the new cells.
Cancerous Cells: Cancer cells don’t play by the same rules.*Â Sometimes, when cells are damaged, abnormal and uncontrolled growth occurs. The resulting renegade cells don’t die. They hang out and create havoc in the body.
The following diagram illustrates normal and abnormal cell growth:*Â
The Culprit: Free radicals are unstable molecules that occur as an inevitable byproduct of turning food into energy. We also increase our exposure to free radicals through lifestyle choices and environmental exposure, such as:
Once a cell comes under attack by a free radical, the cell’s membrane is altered, changing the flow of what enters or leaves that cell. That altered functionality can increase the risk of cancer.
Smart Tips: Antioxidants Fight Free Radicals
Our bodies naturally produce antioxidants to neutralize free radicals before they attack our cells. Our bodies also accept additional help from antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins C, E, and A.
Here’s an excerpt from a fact sheet issued by The Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health:
“Evidence suggests that higher consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with lower risk of most types of cancer, perhaps, in part, due to their high vitamin C content. Vitamin C can limit the formation of carcinogens, such as nitrosamines, vivo; modulate immune response; and, through its antioxidant function, possibly attenuate oxidative damage that can lead to cancer.”
Next Steps: Learn More and Decide
There you have it; a few simple facts about the dreaded “C” word. Understanding how cancer functions in your cells empowers you to make informed lifestyle choices about preventive health care.
If you’d like more information, we gleaned these facts from the following resources: