September 03, 2008

Cells Gone Wild

Today while cancer blog surfing, I came across a blog that cut and pasted an article by Lucy Wong Moi called Cancer Prevention – Keeping Most Cancer at Bay. In the beginning of the article she describes 10 homes near the corner where she lived; 8 of them had family members with cancer. The remainder of her article presents 10 tips on cancer prevention learned in her 20 years as a holistic healer. These include not eating processed foods, “drinking clean unpolluted air to flush our body of waste products”, and breathing in positives, like ideas of good health, and exhaling negatives like stress and destructive emotions.

I find most amusing that Lucy began her article speaking extensively of the high number of cancer cases in her neighborhood, yet never mentioned investigation into environmental cancer clusters as an issue in fighting cancer. (Read more about Cancer Clusters from the Center For Disease Control and Prevention.) The clean air and water that she recommends we drink and breathe are a luxury not available in all geographic regions. Genetics and environment – which includes food and personal health, are known contributors to cancer. Yet we still have a huge question mark as part of the cancer equation. If we understood all the causes of cancer we would be that much closer to a cure.

Lucy’s food and lifestyle recommendations are prudent contributions to personal health, however, they are far from clinically proven cancer prevention. When I was diagnosed as a young adult cancer patient, I was a 27-year-old vegan, who followed the puritanical diet Lucy described, plus I was a dancer who exercised six day per week. Meanwhile, the United States is brimming with overweight 70-year-olds who pig out on Doritos, smoke like chimneys, and never get cancer. Clearly there is complexity to the issue of cancer prevention.

I defend this complexity on behalf of cancer patients so that we are not made to feel as though there is something we could have done to prevent our cancer – blaming the victim isn’t such a nice thing to do to us (unless it is smoker’s cancer, and still it is cruel to spit in the face of their suffering.) I encourage others who do not have cancer to lead a healthy lifestyle for many reasons, but I also caution against the misinformation that eating sprouts and breathing in good thoughts will prevent cancer from growing. If you want to prevent cancer, support exploration of both environmental links to cancer and scientific research into the molecular biology of these little cells gone wild.

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