Cancer what is

Cancer is a group of over 100 diseases in which abnormal cells grow and spread in an uncontrolled way. It is one of the leading causes of death in developed countries, with lung cancer responsible for more deaths than any other type of cancer. Many factors play a role in the development of cancer, and these may vary between the different types of disease. They include nutritional, environmental, genetic, social, emotional, psychological and spiritual factors. It is only in the last 20 years that diet has been accepted as playing a vital part in the prevention of cancer.

Cancer what isThe cancer process

Normally, cells divide to produce more cells only when the body needs them. If cells divide when new ones are not needed, they form a mass of excess tissue, called a tumor. Tumors can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). The cells in malignant tumors can invade and destroy nearby tissues and organs. Cancer cells can also break away from a malignant tumor and travel through the body to form new tumors in other places. The spread of cancer is called metastasis.

Cancer develops in two stages, an initiation stage and a promotion stage. During the initiation stage, the genetic code of a healthy cell is altered by a substance known as a carcinogen. This is followed by the promotion stage in which the abnormal cell is encouraged to multiply. The initiation stage happens frequently and quickly while the promotion stage is more lengthy. In some cases it may take as long as 30 years for cancer to become apparent.

What are the causes of cancer

Many factors contribute to the development of cancer. Some of the most common include smoking, chemical pollutants, excess sun exposure, radiation, some pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol, viruses and psychological influences. Nutritional factors include food chemicals, obesity, diets high in saturated and polyunsaturated fats and protein, and nutrient deficiencies.

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