11 Risk Factors of Cancer

By Kyla Miller, R.H.N.;

Cancer has become one of the greatest fears of our modern society. This is no doubt due to the fact that modern medicine has generally been unsuccessful in finding a “cure” for cancer. This is why, when it comes to cancer, prevention is the most sensible approach. Listed below are 11 key cancer risk factors to be aware of and avoid as much as possible.

1. Smoking

Smoking is a primary cancer risk and is associated with nearly all forms of lung cancers. It can also influence cancers of the mouth, throat, and larynx. The chemical production and treatment processes involved in manufacturing a pack of cigarettes are definitely a cause for concern. Cigarette smoking is clearly the largest and most preventable cancer risk.

2. Dietary Excesses

Excess fats in the diet can increase our risk of cancer. Fats of most concern include excess saturated animal fats, fried or rancid fats, hydrogenated or refined oils, and cooked polyunsaturated fatty acids. Rancid oils and food cooked in unsaturated oils cause free radical damage. We want to avoid cooking with unsaturated oils (i.e. olive, sunflower, canola) and make sure to store them in a dark, sealed, cool place.  When cooking, it is best to use good sources of saturated fats (i.e. butter, coconut oil). Additionally, we also need to be cautious of excess animal protein.

3. Nutritional Deficiencies

A low fiber diet is probably the biggest culprit, mainly in the increasing problem of colon cancer. Slow transit time through the intestinal tract, allows for more contact with carcinogens. Vitamin A and beta-carotene deficiencies have been linked to the increase of lung and mouth cancer. Also of concern is selenium deficiency, which has been shown to be associated with many cancers, mainly of the breast, lungs, colon, rectum, and prostate. It is interesting to note that Vitamin C may reduce the carcinogenicity of nitrosamines and other chemicals. Vitamin E deficiency can weaken the body’s ability to balance rancid oils and free radicals, and this increases cancer risk. Zinc deficiency has been implicated in cancer of the prostate, colon, esophagus and bronchi, as well as general immune system weakening. The best way to avoid nutritional deficiencies is to eat whole, natural, live foods.

4. Occupational Chemicals

Many workers at home or in the workplace are exposed to a wide range of chemicals with varying carcinogenicity.  These can include 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.

5. Food Chemicals

There are many possible food carcinogens, that when accumulative, can potentially cause cancer. These 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. Possible food carcinogens include: food additives (food colors, flavours), saccharin, hormones, pesticides, aflatoxin (produced by moulds), coffee, sugar, nitrates and nitrites (such as in deli meats), pickled or salt-cured foods, barbecuing (creates protein changes and production of benzopyrene, a mild carcinogen), etc.

6. Air and water pollution

A few examples of such chemicals are metals, pesticides, PCBs, vinyl chloride, carbon tetrachloride, and gasoline. Air pollution may also contain many carcinogenic substances from nitrous and sulphur gases to hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and so on.

7. Excess sunlight and radiation

Excessive sunlight is implicated in skin cancer and excess radiation for cancer in general. In some cases, medical x-rays can increase the risks of leukemia and other cancers. For example, mammograms used to detect early breast cancer, have also been implicated as a factor in generating breast cancer with the radiation exposure directly to the breast tissue.

8. Certain pharmaceutical drugs

As an example, taking estrogen hormones for post-menopausal use or as birth control pills is a factor of concern for woman and also for men since many of these hormones are being circulated in our water systems. When combinations of estrogens are used with less estradiol (the most carcinogenic of the three) and more estriol and estrone, there appears to be a lower cancer risk. Adding natural progesterone may be helpful as well.

9. Alcohol

This has been linked to some cancers such as cancers of the mouth, larynx, esophagus, and pancreas. These risks are increased when used in combination with cigarette smoking.  Alcohol can greatly deplete our nutrients and has often been associated with poor diet and many nutritional deficiencies.

10. Viruses

Viral diseases have been implicated in a variety of cancers. For years, genital herpes infections were thought to increase cervical cancer rates. Cytomegalic and Epstein-Barr viruses have also been considered as factors in cancer, possibly though mutagenic cellular effects, and may contribute to certain lymphomas or leukemias.

11. Psychological influences

Excessive stress and psychological traumas may influence immunity and increase cancer risk.

Positive Action

It is obvious that avoiding smoking, minimizing the use of carcinogenic chemicals at home and work, and lessening our exposure to radiation can in fact reduce our chances of developing cancer.

In addition, we want to emphasize a diet high in fibre and full of nutrients, antioxidants and good drinking water. It is important to deep ourselves physically and psychologically fit through exercise and working on maintaining a positive attitude. Stress management techniques, relaxation, visualization exercises and meditation are all useful self-help processes that may be learned. Developing a spiritual or universal perspective about the world and our involvement with life is also important for interpreting and coping with challenging experiences such as cancer.

Let’s resolve to treat our bodies with respect and honour by providing it with the best possible environment.
Your question: Do you think Cancer can be prevented? (post your comments below)

Staying Healthy with Nutrition; Haas, Elson, PhD.

About the Author : Kyla Miller is the co-founder of guidinginstincts.com. She has overcome illness through dietary/lifestyle changes, and practicing a positive mindset daily. Kyla is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and is currently studying to become a Reiki Master.


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