4 things about cancer you might not have known

If you live long enough, you will get cancer. It's just how we're built. These are some important facts about cancer that you might not have known.

4 things about cancer you might not have known

1. Cancer is always inside us

  • Cancer, for all the fear it invokes, is not some foreign thing that invades your body, like a virus or bacteria. Cancer is simply your own cells run amok.
  • It develops when the built-in mechanisms designed to destroy damaged cells fail or become overwhelmed.
  • Those damaged or cancerous cells keep doing what cells do — multiplying. Unlike normal cells, however, they don't have an "off" switch.
  • These cells divide and divide and divide. In the process, they use up valuable blood, oxygen, and nutrients that healthy cells need.
  • Eventually, the proliferation of cancer cells makes it impossible for healthy cells to survive.

2. Cancer cells can hide quite easily

  • Cancer cells are pretty smart. They're able, in many instances, to disguise themselves to evade detection by the immune system.
  • They also mutate to resist the poisons designed to root them out.
  • Sometimes, they lay dormant for years until something triggers them into action again.

3. Cancer and age are linked

  • The connection between cancer and age is mathematics.
  • The older you are, the longer your cells have been dividing. The greater the number of divisions, the greater the likelihood that mistakes will occur. The more mistakes, the greater the chance that one of those mistakes become a cancer.
  • 77 percent of all cancers are diagnosed in those 55 and older.
  • Until about 100 years ago — when the average lifespan in developed countries finally passed the 50-year mark — cancer was relatively rare.
  • Today, cancer is the leading cause of death in developed countries, with one in three people dying from some form of cancer.

4. Some cancers are preventable

  • About two-thirds of all cancers could be prevented if people stopped smoking, ate better, and exercised.
  • Your job is to arm yourself with all known weapons to reduce the probability that cellular mistakes will occur.
  • You'll also want to help out the systems designed to correct or destroy cancer cells.
  • That means reducing the production of free radicals, increasing the availability of antioxidants to fight off free radicals, and stemming the tide of inflammation.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in developed nations, but that doesn't mean we're helpless. Arming yourself with information could help give you a better chance.

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