Health: Why do we get Cancer?
I doubt I will ever know why I got Cancer.
There will always be a part of me that wonders. Why me? Was it my fault? I didn't smoke, drank moderately. I wasn't overweight, my diet was ok, perhaps I could have exercised more? Yet ironically both times I have been diagnosed with Cancer was when I was at my healthiest!
There are however known factors which increase your risk, age being one of the biggest risk factors, with people over the age of sixty-five at the greatest risk. Genetics can also play a part, some cancers can arise from a gene mutation and can be inherited. It does not mean you will develop cancer, but there is a greater chance.
Some health factors may also increase our risk of some cancers. Low immunity can increase the risk of cancers, such as lymphoma, non-melanoma skin cancer, and Kaposi's Sarcoma which usually affects the skin, lining of the mouth, and organs such as lungs and liver.
Some viruses too have been linked to developing a higher risk of Cancer. HPV, Epstein-Barr, Hepatitis B and C, HIV and T-Cell Leukaemia.
'Occupational Factors' have also shown to increase you chances of getting cancer, such as exposure to some substances or working outside in the sun for long periods. My Dad had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma which could have been caused by working with certain since banned chemicals in the dye industry, again something we'll never know for sure, but my Mum developed the same cancer years later. Again we were told she could have got it from washing my Dads lab coats.
Environmental Factors can too increase your chances, the main environmental factor being exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Other factors, although small, include air pollution in cities, and radon gas.
Scientists use the terms incidence and prevalence in relation to cancer to describe how widespread diseases are. Incidence is the number of people who develop cancer within a specific time frame e.g a month or a year.
Prevalence is the number of people who are living with Cancer during a specific time period.
According to cancerresearch.org there were 367,167 cases of cancer between 2015-2017 in the UK
More than half of new cases of cancer are breast, prostate, lung or bowel cancer.
Each year more than a third (36%) of all cancer cases in the UK are diagnosed in people aged 75 and over (2015-2017).
Since the early 1900s incidence rates for all cancers combined have increased for all the broad age groups in the UK. The increase is largest in people aged 0-24 where rates have increased almost a quarter (23%) (2015-2017) We have to question why? Is there something in our lifestyle or diet in now that is contributing?
Here are some more facts that indicate if you are more at risk:
Cancer is more common in white and black males than in Asian males.
Cancer is more common in white females than in Black or Asian females.
There are more cases of Cancer in individuals who live in deprived areas
The incidence for different types of cancer in 2017 are:
Breast Cancer in women 54,722
Prostate Cancer in men 48,588
Lung Cancer in men 24,881; and women 23, 087
Scary statistics huh? Which is why we need to do everything we can to prevent this terrible disease. As I said at the top of this post, I'll never know 'why me' and I'm still working with the fear of another recurrence and the block on my motivation to diet and exercise, being as this is when it occurred.
To turn around my thinking, a psychologist told me that had I not been so fit and well, maybe I wouldn't have coped with treatment as well, maybe my chances of survival would have been reduced, would I have found the lump had I been overweight?
I can't turn back the clock, all I can do is give my body the best chance it has, and whatever my mental block is telling me, that does seem to be with diet and exercise, as well as being vigilant when it comes to checking. I urge you to do the same.