I’m sitting at home right now and thinking about how many families have been affected by this disease. It’s not something even scientists have been able to find a total cure for, and there have been so many lives taken by cancer. So the question remains… How do we deal with cancer? Well I decided to do some digging on what we do know about this terrible disease to see if there are some ways that we can be better prepared for it; and I found something really interesting...
What is cancer?
So before I got too far ahead of myself I knew I needed to get more informed about what cancer even is. After all it’s one of the most misunderstood diseases there is.
Cancer in layman's terms is when cells in our body begin to divide and multiply. This is actually something that our cells do already. And it doesn’t mean that any of them are cancerous. So what exactly defines the real difference between a cancer cell and a regular cell.
Well I came across a term called “contact inhibition”. This essentially describes the process of what happens when normal cells receive signals from nearby cells telling it to stop multiplying and growing before they start getting too invasive of nearby tissues.
What happens when a regular cell receives a signal to stop growing and doesn’t listen… but instead begins to invade those neighboring cells? That is when it starts taking on the traits of a cancer cell.
Another interesting thing I found was that the regular cells in our body mature. So as they divide, multiply and grow, they are assigned specific roles in a way. Our bodies are quite amazing and each of our cells are there for a specific reason. Cells work for our body and are designed to keep us alive and healthy, so when our cells are doing their job… We have nothing to worry about.
However some cells do not comply with any rules and begin invading other cells and acting outside of what their supposed to. Now of course the big question is… Why?
Cancer is unchecked cell growth. Mutations in genes can cause cancer by accelerating cell division rates or inhibiting normal controls on the system, such as cell cycle arrest or programmed cell death. As a mass of cancerous cells grows, it can develop into a tumor.
What causes cancer cells?
Cancer itself is when cells divide without stopping; they grow right into surrounding tissues and don’t listen to the signals our “well-behaved” cells give them to stop. If we dive a bit deeper, we can find that the “signals” telling cells to stop growing are being sent out by genes which are essentially sections of our DNA. Cells that don’t listen to this are potentially labeled as cancerous cells.
What causes this to happen is a loaded question. Not any one type of cancer is the same and how it happens varies a lot from person to person.
However, there’s a very interesting article by Nature.com that talks about a process called “Microevolution”. This is a way that many scientists describe the story of a normal cell turning slowly over time into a cancerous cell.
After learning more about this, I finally found some reasons that can potentially happen.
Sometimes changed or damaged genes can give off skewed instructions to the cells and that can cause them to overtake the growth rate of normal nearby cells. These defective or flawed genes are often something passed down. In other words… Yes, it can be genetic.
However some of the causes that are a little more in our control are:
Consuming lots of alcohol
Heavy alcohol consumption is bad for us in many ways, but one effect it can have is slowing down the growth of our cells and the cycle they go through as they grow, divide and multiply. This is definitely something that can cause issues within groups of cells that are affected.
Obesity or excess body weight
Excess body fat is absolutely linked to being at risk of several different types of cancer. If our bodies are not being kept healthy then of course our cells will be unhealthy too. When cells aren’t performing as they should they can definitely be at risk of turning cancerous.
Unhealthy eating habits
For the same reason that being overweight might be a cause of cells becoming cancerous, poor nutrition puts us at risk for unhealthy cells too.
What do cancer cells do to the body?
As we found out earlier, when cells turn cancerous they begin invading nearby tissues. Sometimes those tissues can be the Brain, intestines, liver, lungs, kidneys etc… And when these cells continue to multiply in a given area of the body, they can eventually form a tumor. This is seen more frequently in people over 50 because it often takes a long time for damaged or faulty cells to begin taking over nearby cells. When these abnormal and unchecked cells grow into other areas of our body it becomes a health risk.
What are the symptoms?
Because this is such a broad term and there are many different causes, there are also many different symptoms. Some of them can go anywhere from digestive changes, coughing, changes in the appearance of the, warts or moles that change, difficulties swallowing, abnormal lumps in the breast or anywhere else, abnormal blood loss, sores that don’t heal after some time… there are many others and none of these necessarily mean cancer. The best thing to do if you’re concerned is always to see a professional. For more on this visit Healthline - Cancer Warning Signs
Can cancer be stopped?
To learn about if cancer can be stopped or how.. I dug into what cancer needs to survive and continue invading in nearby body tissues. This makes sense because if we take away the thing that it needs to survive that increases the chances that we can potentially stop it. Since there’s no sure fire way to cure cancer, this approach does not guarantee anything… however I did find some interesting information about it. Check it out.
Certain types of cancers like prostate and many breast cancers need hormones to grow, like estrogen and progesterone. Scientists use something called hormone therapy (generally after performing a surgery to remove existing tumors) to prevent the cancer from coming back. The idea is that it cuts off the fuel that helps cancer cells to grow.
There are many other treatments that doctors may prescribe for dealing with cancer. If you’re dealing with cancer always see your doctor first. You can learn more about cancer here.
But here I wanted to find more ways that we can help prevent cancer. So I started from what we learned about many of the potential causes of cancer. Here’s what I found
Tobacco is linked with cancer over and over again in so many cases and there’s no denying that using tobacco of any kind creates a huge risk of getting cancer.
Exercise is crucial to staying healthy in general. Keeping our bodies moving and blood flowing can help our cells to stay healthy and moving through the cell cycle as they should. A simple daily routine of some push ups or going on long walks with fresh air not only builds strength and healthy cells but it moves oxygen throughout the body which has so many benefits. Oxygen doesn’t only keep us alive, it’s like a cleansing tool that gets rid of the fogginess we feel in our mind and body when we aren’t exercising daily.
Protect yourself from the sun. As much as the sun is great for our vine dried grapes, too much such can be harmful to our skin. Yes definitely spend time out on the beach or walking outside on a sunny day, however when we spend hours under the sun without protection, the radiation can be harmful and is often linked to skin cancers.
Nutritious foods. Greens, other veggies and fruits are all essentials to getting the nutrition our bodies need. When we chew up different types of vegetables and digest them, the nutrients from those veggies are broken up into biologically active compounds, protecting us from DNA damage. The best types of foods are ones that contain loads of nutrients. Check out our blog for other fact and ideas for nutritous foods. We get messages from many of you about how our vine-dried grapes are much tastier and a great way to get the types of nutrients that keep our bodies healthy. So thank you!
What foods prevent cancer cells?
Foods that are high in nutrients, antioxidants and vitamins are potential things that can keep our bodies and cells healthy and doing what they’re supposed to do. In other words, healthy foods. Here’s some examples I found:
… Honestly the list of foods that can potentially prevent cells from becoming cancerous and taking over is almost endless. The main idea is eat healthy and keep a good balance of a variety of highly nutritious foods. Just try to avoid too much red meat, highly processed foods and the things we talked about earlier (alcohol, tobacco, etc). For more on this check out Webmd.
Raisins Vs. Cancer Cells
No, raisins are not the cure for cancer. But they could be one of the things to add to the list of snacks that can help you prevent it. When there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body, it’s called “Oxidative stress”. Free radicals are molecules that contain uneven numbers of electrons. These two things are linked to being a risk factor in certain types of cancers. Antioxidants can potentially help protect our bodies from these free radicals and oxidative damage. With our vine-dried grapes being high in antioxidant compounds, they are a great snack to include in your diet to help keep your cells healthy.
With cancer being such a loaded topic, there definitely has to be to disclaimer here that you always need to see your doctor if you’re concerned about some of the symptoms you may have.
However through this research we did find a lot of interesting information about how cancer cells work and what types of things they fuel on to survive. Knowing that, we can try to keep our bodies healthy by staying active, avoiding alcohol, processed foods, red meats, tobacco… And getting more exercise, building healthy habits and eating more nutritious foods, like our vine-dried grapes, that are full of antioxidants and vitamins.
If you want to educate yourself more on the health benefits of our organic vine-dried grapes, check out our blog here.
If you want to purchase our healthy snacks, check out our store here.