Cancer risk factors and prevention with ellagic acid
Dietary excesses—fats (mainly saturated, fried polyunsaturated oils, and cholesterol); protein; obesity (calories)
Under-nutrition—deficient fiber and nutrients such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, selenium
Food chemicals—pesticides, additives, hormones
Air and water pollution
Excess sunlight and radiation
Certain pharmaceutical drugs—estrogen, metronidazole (Flagyl), lindane (Kwell), or griseofulvin
Psychological influences—such as personal changes, loss of loved one, grief, divorce
Smoking mainly of cigarettes, is a primary cancer risk and is correlated with nearly all lung cancer. It is also a factor in cancers of the mouth, throat, and larynx and possibly others. Pipe and cigar smoking produces higher incidences of mouth cancer but less of lung. Cigarette smoke acts synergistically with alcohol, asbestos, and other carcinogens in air, water, and food to further increase cancer risk and rates. It is likely that naturally grown tobacco rolled in untreated paper poses less cancer risk; the chemical production and treatment processes involved in manufacturing a pack of cigarettes are definitely an added cause for concern. Regular marijuana smoking may also be a factor in cancer, though more research on this is needed. Cigarette smoking is clearly the largest and most preventable cancer risk.
Excess fats in the diet definitely increase the incidence of breast, colon, and prostate cancer and possibly others, such as uterine or ovarian cancer. The fats of most concern include saturated animal fats, as found in meats and dairy products; fried or rancid oils; hydrogenated and refined oils, and cooked polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Rancid oils and foods cooked in oils cause more free-radical irritation (as do high amounts of PUFAs), mainly from lipid peroxides, and these act as mutagens and carcinogens. Excess protein in some studies correlates with cancer rates, but most of the higher protein foods also contribute to higher fat levels and this type of diet will often lead to more general body congestive and degenerative processes.
Obesity is definitely correlated with higher cancer rates. Colon, rectum, and prostate cancer rates are higher in obese men, while obese women have increased risks of cancer of the breast, cervix, uterus, ovary and gallbladder. It is not totally clear whether the risk is posed by the obesity itself, higher caloric intake, or by the many associated factors, both nutritional and psychological (overweight people tend to hold things in).
Deficiencies of many nutrients are implicated in some cancers. Low fiber in the diet is probably the biggest culprit, mainly in the increasing problem of colon cancer. Slow transit time through the intestinal tract, allowing more contact to carcinogens, may be the main factor here. Many specific nutrient deficiencies have been correlated with various cancers. Vitamin A and beta-carotene deficits increase the incidence of lung and mouth cancer, especially among cigarette smokers, and are also implicated in cancers of the skin, throat, prostate, bladder, cervix, colon, esophagus, and stomach. Also of concern is selenium deficiency, which we now know may increase the risk of many cancers, mainly of the breast, lungs, colon, rectum, and prostate, as well as skin, pancreas, and intestinal cancer and leukemia. Vitamin C may reduce the carcinogenicity of nitrosamines and other chemicals; vitamin C deficits may increase cervical, bladder, stomach and esophageal cancers, as well as the general carcinogenic process. Vitamin E deficiency definitely weakens the body’s ability to balance rancid oils and free radicals, and this increases cancer risk. Other mineral deficiencies implicated in cancer include molybdenum deficiency in esophageal and stomach cancer; zinc deficiency in cancer of the prostate, colon, esophagus, and bronchi and general immune system weakening; and possibly iodine and iron deficiencies.
Occupational chemicals are a topic of great concern. Many workers at home or in jobs are exposed to a wide range of chemicals with varying carcinogenicity. Possible agents include nuclear radiation and fallout, chemicals used in dry cleaning and other cleaning supplies, benzene, coal tar and its derivatives, asbestos, arsenic, PVC, gasoline and petroleum products and other hydrocarbons, pesticides, cosmetic chemicals, and many others. Cigarette smoking also increases the risks from these occupational hazards.
Food chemicals are another big topic. There are many possible carcinogens, most of minimum risk but often cumulative, and we have much to learn about possible interactions of multiple carcinogens. Chemicals may be added to food during growth, manufacture, or preparation, and some are even made by the foods themselves or in combination with other microorganisms.
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