National Cancer Prevention Month
Risks Associated with Cancer
Cancer is difficult to deal with for anybody, especially parents who have a child battling cancer. No parent wants to hear their child has cancer. Here to Serve provides support to parents through the difficult challenges of childhood cancer. During National Cancer Prevention Month, we are happy to share our knowledge of cancer prevention.
The devastating impact of childhood cancer is significant. Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia is the leading cause of cancer among children under the age of 15. Other pediatric cancers include: Neuroblastoma, Brain Tumors, Wilms Tumor, and Lymphoma. Many parents ask themselves how this could have happened to their child and they are looking for answers.
An overview of various studies to investigate the cause of childhood leukemia published in the Journal of the Archives of Medical Research in 2016 found that: childhood cancers are likely caused by environmental and genetic factors. There is strong evidence that radiation exposure by mother and father can impact a child developing cancer. Link to article: Environmental exposure and risk of childhood leukemia.
According to Schüz, Joachim, and Friederike Erdmann of the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Danish Cancer Society Research Center, there is also moderate association with the geographical location to radon. Other clear risk factors are genetic anomalies such as Down’s Syndrome.
The research referenced above “Environmental Exposure and Risk of Childhood Leukemia,” reveals the quality of the immune system has shown to be a convincing cause of childhood leukemia. In fact, lack of exposure to common childhood infections appears to be a risk factor as the immune system is not strengthened early on and is overburdened later in life (7).
The potential exposures to changes in the chromosomes, the reproductive cycle, and fertilization are of greater significance, particularly damage to the oocytes and sperm. The chromosomal damages can come from mothers, fathers, and even grandparents who pass on defective chromosomes.
The Role of Gluten and Cancer Risk
While there is some evidence for prenatal nutrition and breastfeeding, it has not been found to be statistically significant thus far. According to the American Cancer Society,
“In people with celiac disease, gluten triggers an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine and could increase the risk of cancer.” In addition, some people experience gluten sensitivity without overt celiac disease. In these people, gluten may contribute to inflammation in the intestines, potentially increasing the risk of gastrointestinal cancers. However, this possible link is not well-proven.”
“For people without celiac disease, there is no evidence that consuming a gluten-free diet is linked with a lower cancer risk, and many studies suggest that consuming whole grains, including those containing gluten, probably reduces the risk of colon cancer.”
The Role of Nutrition and the Immune System:
Nutrition and Phytonutrients
Humans have been evolving and thriving for centuries. The human body is amazingly good at healing itself; the synergy between humans and the earth has allowed for beautiful synchrony with natural vegetation. Fruits and vegetables contain micronutrients that keep the human body in a state of optimal health.
The extensive array of colorful fruits and vegetables available contains many phytochemicals known as phytonutrients. There has been considerable research on the benefits of phytonutrients and how they support good health and an excellent immune system.
Our bodies have a complex system of cells. Cellular growth and death happen daily. Our immune system recognizes damaged cells or foreign invader cells and eliminates them. We need to fight off the invaders by providing the proper nutrition for optimal cellular function. Studies have shown that the phytonutrients in the colorful fruits and vegetables of the Mediterranean diet have anti-cancer properties
In the Journal of Nutrition, an abstract “Potential Synergy of Phytochemicals in Cancer Prevention,” https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/134/12/3479S/4688708 Rui Hai Lu shares, “Epidemiological studies have consistently shown that regular consumption of fruits and vegetables is strongly associated with reduced risk of developing chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.”
Sadly, the western diet, which consists of fast and easy processed foods, has a detrimental impact on the increasing cancer rates worldwide. The World Research Cancer Fund provides statistics about many aspects of cancer worldwide. One of our blog posts about the benefits of phytonutrients shares easy ways to add more colorful fruits and vegetables into your everyday lifestyle.
Simple Cancer Prevention Strategies
• Excessive Alcohol Consumption
• Processed Foods
• High Fructose Corn Syrup
• Hydrogenated Oils
• Fruits and Vegetable Consumption
• Stress Reduction
Check out our blog on meditation during cancer treatment for tips on building a daily meditation practice.
Exercise is effective in cancer prevention. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the ideal amount of exercise for adults is about five hours a week of combined moderate and vigorous activity. ACS has provided guidelines for diet and physical activity. At least an hour of moderate or vigorous activity daily is recommended for children and teens. Sedentary activities in front of screens should be limited.
Here to Serve also has a blog about exercise during childhood cancer. It can be tough to find time to exercise with a busy lifestyle, especially when you are caregiving or are a patient and can’t find the energy you once had.
A simple walk around the neighborhood can be a challenge at times. Consider a stationary bike that folds up and fits in a closet like this comfortable Progear 225 Foldable Magnetic Upright Bike.
There are multiple benefits of exercise, and one great benefit is a healthy coping mechanism for stress.
Stress Management Helps Prevent Cancer
The most effective way to decrease stress is not overloading yourself with too many tasks. Knowing when to say no and not accept more than you can handle is an important first step in stress reduction. This is one way Here to Serve is so helpful for families coping with the burdens of childhood cancer.
The National Cancer Institute points out that people who experience long-term (I.e., chronic) stress can have a weakened immune system leaving them more prone to viral infections. A strong immune system is critical for good health and cancer prevention. Conversely, a weakened immune system from long-term stress and the typical Western diet is a recipe for disaster.
This leaves our soldiers less able to fight off damaged cells and invaders! So, in the spirit of National Cancer Awareness month, let’s commit to supporting our immune soldiers who protect us and make better lifestyle choices for healthy living!
As always, Here to Serve is here to support families dealing with pediatric cancer. We provide education through our blogs about childhood cancer, stress reduction, and more. Here to Serve provides tangible help and support for parents battling alongside a child or young spouse with cancer. If you or someone you know needs our help, fill out this form, and we will contact them. If you wish to volunteer your time and talents, please reach out, or if you prefer, you can also donate to those in need.
By Amanda Enciso
About The Author
Amanda Enciso is a cancer survivor from the Los Angeles area. She volunteers knowing what families endure during the cancer journey and after, as she battles GVHD resulting from her transplant. While going to school full-time to get a degree in English to start a new career path in life, Amanda finds time to write blogs for Here to Serve.
All information on this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. Always consult a medical provider in your particular area of need before making significant changes in your medical decisions or lifestyle.
American Cancer Society, “Risk Factors and Causes of Childhood Cancer.”
American Cancer Society”, American Cancer Society Guideline for Diet and Physical Activity” (2020). https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/CRC/PDF/Public/6753.00.pdf]
Augimeri, Giuseppina, and Daniela Bonofiglio. “The Mediterranean Diet as a Source of Natural Compounds: Does It Represent a Protective Choice against Cancer?.” Pharmaceuticals 14.9 (2021): 920. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34577620/
Liu, Rui Hai. “Potential synergy of phytochemicals in cancer prevention mechanism of action.” The Journal of nutrition134.12 (2004): 3479S-3485S. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/134/12/3479S/4688708?login=true
Schüz, Joachim, and Friederike Erdmann. “Environmental exposure and risk of childhood leukemia: an overview.” Archives of medical research 47.8 (2016): 607-614. Environmental exposure and risk of childhood leukemia
Thomas, Robert, et al. “Phytochemicals in cancer prevention and management.” British Journal of Medical Practitioners 8.2 (2015): 1-8. https://www.pomi-t.co.uk/Polyphenol-and-Cancer-Review.pdf