Cancer cells

What is Cancer?

Cancer is not just one disease but a collection of almost 100 diseases. It is characterised by uncontrolled cell growth in the human body, and the ability to migrate from its original site and spread to different parts of the body.

Depending on the type of Cancer, it can spread to the lymph glands, liver, bone, brain and inner linings of the chest, abdomen or pelvis.

How common is Cancer?

One in every four people die of Cancer in the USA, and is second only to heart disease. A UK Cancer research group estimate that 1 in 2 people (born after 1960) will develop Cancer in their lifetime.

Over 50% of all deaths from Cancer in the World occur in Asia, and it is estimated that 42% of all Cancers are preventable.

What causes Cancer?

Every cell in the body, with the exception of heart, brain and nerve cells, is constantly replicating and renewing itself. It uses the DNA of the cell as a “blueprint” for making identical copies of itself.

If this DNA blueprint is damaged, it can lead to the production of an abnormal cell. If this cell is not stopped, by repair mechanisms to correct the faulty DNA or by self-destruction (called “apoptosis”), it can lead to uncontrolled growth and Cancer.

- Dr Joseph Brenner and Prof Daniel Webber discuss 'Why there is an increase in Cancer'?

Why did I get Cancer?

Despite decades of research in Cancer, there is still uncertainty and debate around how Cancer starts.

Essentially, there are two schools of thought:

  • Cancer as a Genetic disease
  • Cancer as a Metabolic disease

Cancer as a Genetic disease is the more conventional view, and assumes that the first step in cancer production is mutation in the DNA.

Although there are some well-documented environmental factors linked to Cancer, such as smoking, poor diet, being overweight and a small number of viruses (like HPV for Cervical Cancer and EBV for Nasopharyngeal cancer), most Cancer sufferers do NOT have these risk factors, which has led to the search for other possible answers.

One possibility may be in the Metabolic theory of Cancer. This hypothesises that there must have been something unbalanced in the body in the first place to make it possible for Cancer to develop. It is this unhealthy micro-environment around the cell that causes it's DNA to be unstable and vulnerable to mutation.

These factors may include poor oxygenation (from lack of exercise or high stress), an acidic environment (meat-heavy diet with insufficient fruit and vegetables), poor nutritional status (from heavy-processed foods, and diminished nutrient quality of farmed foods) and a weakened immune system (eg. from poor intestinal health or over-polluted environment).

In the metabolic theory, it follows that if these micro-environmental factors that gave rise to the cancer in the first place are not properly addressed, a cancer even if cleared, can very readily come back again (or a new cancer develop).