In 2008, there are about 565,650 Americans expected to die of cancer. Every day, 1500 people lives are taken by cancer. It is accounted for 1 of every 4 deaths. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart diseases, and if current trends continue and we don’t do anything about it, it is expected to be the leading cause of death by the year 2010.
People are waking up to this scary fact. More are becoming aware of what leads to cancer and are taking steps to prevent it from developing by making adjustment to their lifestyle. The other good news is that early detection, diagnosis and treatment have improved the odds dramatically. In 1995, over 50% of cancer patients survived five years or more after diagnosis and treatment. The American Cancer Society estimates that an additional 25-30% of all cancer deaths could be prevented with earlier diagnosis and treatment.
Cancer is identified by uncontrolled cell division and cell death caused by cumulative damage to important regulatory genes. Generally, multiple genes must be damaged for a cancer to grow and to develop the capacity to spread, also known as metastasis. Cancers that seem to run in families may be hereditary or may signify similar family environmental exposure to substances that cause cell damage such as polluted air, water, soil and to radiation. Cancer can occur in many areas of the body and behaves differently depending on its types and origin. Cancer is caused by both external factors (tobacco, chemicals, radiation and infectious organisms) and internal factors (inherited mutations, hormones, immune conditions, and mutations that occurs from metabolism). It often takes ten or more years from exposure to external factors and a detectable cancer.
Even chlorinated municipal water can cause cancer. Chlorine treated water contains chemical compounds called trihalomethanes, which are carcinogens (cancer causing agents) resulting from the combination of chlorine and organic compounds in water. These chemicals do not degrade very well and are generally stored in the fatty tissues of the body (the breasts, other fatty areas, mothers’ milk, blood and semen), they can cause mutations by altering DNA, suppress immune system function and interfere with the natural controls of cell growth. Several studies also link chlorine and chlorinated by-products to a greater incidence of bladder, breast and bowel cancer as well as malignant melanoma. One study even links the use of chlorinated tap water to congenital cardiac anomalies.
If your family history shows that certain diseases have occurred repeatedly in the past, you must be diligent about getting regular screening examinations for these diseases. Check with your doctor for more information about evaluations or cancer screenings.
The best advice to lower cancer risk: Change bad habits and live healthfully. Quit smoking, exercise regularly, learn to manage stress, eat foods that help build your body’s defenses against cancer. Remove chlorine or chloramine and other contaminants from water before drinking or cooking. Take vitamin and mineral supplements. And most importantly, see your physician for regular testing and health screenings.