Not a week goes by without a new cancer-causing study making headlines, but it’s the latest cancer findings that are turning heads. In a 2015 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers made a startling discovery about what may be the real cause of cancer, a disease that has become a global health pandemic.
Here’s a hint: It’s not smoking, the sun, or genetics – although tobacco use, sun overexposure (not the moderate sun exposure needed to maintain good health), and a few genetic components can contribute to cancer growth.
Underneath all of these cancer risk factors lies the root of all disease: chronic inflammation.1
According to MIT researchers, as many as one in five cancers are caused or promoted by inflammation. This includes lung cancer caused by inflammation from chronic asbestos exposure and colon cancer caused by long-term inflammatory bowel disease. The explanation for this cancer development is quite simple – MIT researchers discovered that the immune system can create cancerous DNA mutations as a means to fight off infection. The immune system’s inflammatory response can be helpful to the body to protect against infection, but when this inflammation becomes chronic, it can damage healthy cells and support cancer growth.
WHEN INFLAMMATION SPREADS LIKE WILDFIRE
This isn’t the first time the inflammation- cancer connection has been made, though MIT discoveries provide us with much-needed detail in the damage inflammation can do to the body. It’s a well-known fact that chronic inflammation can lead to chronic disease. As the book Cancer Cell Rehabilitation in 30 Days explains, “Cancers have a direct link to uncontrolled inflammation. Prior to the initiation of cancer cells, there is a long- term uncontrolled inflammatory condition setting the need for cancer cells to emerge.”
This inflammation link clears up the many misconceptions we have about cancer, no thanks to confusing headlines and contradictory statements regularly published by cancer campaigns. No matter what you may have been told, you cannot “catch” cancer. Cancer that develops in almost one out of two people starts when an unhealthy lifestyle compromises the immune system and creates cancer- causing inflammation.
Considering that an inflammatory lifestyle has become the norm in our modern world – characterised by un- natural foods, a lack of exercise, and missing nutrients – dangerous levels of inflammation can escalate in the body for decades before a cancer diagnosis is made. When cancer is diagnosed, it shows that years of inflammation have finally manifested as disease in the body.
In the past decade, scientists have explored the link between chronic inflammation and cancer. In 2011, Ohio State University Medical Center researchers observed the havoc that widespread inflammation can wreak on the body, stimulating a rise in the microRNA-155 (miR-155) molecule that causes protein levels to drop needed for DNA repair. Once this protein defence has been compromised, the rate of spontaneous gene mutations in the body is much higher, leading to cancer growth.2 Cancer Research UK explains that while inflammation can be a powerful protector against infection, long-term inflammation has a dark side that “aids and abets” tumour growth and encourages cancer to spread.3
As we examine the cause of modern inflammation – an un-natural diet – the sky- high cancer statistics make more sense. According to the latest Cancer Research UK data, there were 14.1 million new cases of cancer diagnosed worldwide and 8.2 million cancer deaths in 2012.4 It’s no coincidence that these astronomical numbers come at a time when we are eating more processed, starchy, sugary foods than ever.
The research supports this association between cancer and an inflammatory diet. A high carbohydrate diet has been linked to a higher breast cancer risk, and a diet high in starches and sugars has been associated with a recurrence of colon cancer.5,6 Based on the findings of a study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers discovered that rates of oesophageal cancer followed increased carbohydrate intake and obesity from 1973 to 2001.7 Scientists from Madrid’s University Rey Juan Carlos also confirmed that high levels of sugar in the body, especially those found in the lifestyle condition of diabetes, can damage healthy cells and increase cancer risk.8
These findings all paint a clearer picture of what MIT researchers learned earlier this year. When chronic inflammation is present in the body, in many cases, cancer is sure to follow. Cancer cells can also create a vicious cycle of inflammation: Cancer cells can accelerate the aging of healthy tissue to cause more inflammation that “fuels” tumour growth.9,10,11
CALMING THE INFLAMMATORY CASCADE
Understanding the inflammatory force that drives cancer is helpful to anyone who wants to prevent the disease or support cancer rehabilitation. We can’t control every cancer risk factor, but we can easily control our diet. Research affirms that starchy carbohydrates and sugar are the cause of almost every disease and have been proven to support cancer growth.
By eliminating these modern inflammatory foods, it is possible to eat your way out of cancer.
Start an anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer diet with a simple transition: Cut out all starchy carbs and excess sugar in the form of breads, baked goods, cereals, wheat pastas, processed foods, and sugary drinks. Replace with Really Healthy Foods known to calm inflammation in the body and decrease cancer risk, like fresh and frozen vegetables, dark-skinned fruits and avocados, nuts, seeds, legumes, moderate pasture-fed meats, healthy oils, oily fish, and healthy carbohydrate alternatives like legume pasta.
Calming this cancer-causing inflammation is critical if you want any hope of beating the odds that are stacked against us. As Cancer Cell Rehabilitation in 30 Days explains, “Nothing affects us more than what we choose to eat at least three to four times a day, every day.”
1. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2015 Aug 18;112(33):E4571-80. doi: 10.1073/ pnas.1507709112. Epub 2015 Aug 4.
2. E. Tili, J.-J. Michaille, D. Wernicke, H. Alder, S. Costinean, S. Volinia, C. M. Croce. Mutator activity induced by microRNA-155 (miR-155) links inflammation and cancer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; 108 (12): 4908 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1101795108.
3. “Feeling the Heat — the Link between Inflammation and Cancer.” Cancer Research UK Science Blog.
4. “Worldwide cancer statistics.” Cancer Research UK.
5. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Aug;13(8):1283-9.
6. Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, Kaori Sato, Donna Niedzwiecki, Cynthia Ye, Leonard B. Saltz, Robert J. Mayer, Rex B. Mowat, Renaud Whittom, Alexander Hantel, Al Benson, Devin S. Wigler, Alan Venook, and Charles S. Fuchs. Dietary Glycemic Load and Cancer Recurrence and Survival in Patients with Stage III Colon Cancer: Findings From CALGB 89803. J Natl Cancer Inst, November 7, 2012 DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djs399.
7. Am J Gastroenterol. 2008 Mar;103(3):555-61. Epub 2007 Nov 6.
8. madrimasd. “Excess sugar linked to cancer.” ScienceDaily.
9. Diana Whitaker-Menezes, Ubaldo E. Martinez- Outschoorn, Zhao Lin, Adam Ertel, Neal Flomenberg, Agnieszka K. Witkiewicz, Ruth C. Birbe, Anthony Howell, Stephanos Pavlides, Ricardo Gandara, Richard G. Pestell, Federica Sotgia, Nancy J. Philp and Michael P. Lisanti. Evidence for a stromal-epithelial ‘lactate shuttle’ in human tumors: MCT4 is a marker of oxidative stress in cancer-associated fibroblasts. Cell Cycle, 2011; 10 (11): 1772-1783.
10. Ubaldo E. Martinez-Outschoorn, Diana Whitaker-Menezes, Zhao Lin, Neal Flomenberg, Anthony Howell, Richard G. Pestell, Federica Sotgia and Michael P. Lisanti. Cytokine production and inflammation drive autophagy in the tumor microenvironment: Role of stromal caveolin-1 as a key regulator. Cell Cycle, 2011; 10 (11): 1784- 1793.
11. Agnieszka K. Witkiewicz, Jessica Kline, Maria Queenan, Jonathan R. Brody, Aristotelis Tsirigos, Erhan Bilal, Stephanos Pavlides, Adam Ertel, Federica Sotgia and Michael P. Lisanti. Molecular profiling of a lethal tumor microenvironment, as defined by stromal caveolin-1 status in breast cancers. Cell Cycle, 2011; 10 (11): 1794-1809.