Cancer Fighting Foods

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Cancer —  the Giant Killer

          Cancer has become the third most common non-communicable disease after heart attack and diabetes and it is the second giant killer after heart ailments.  WHO figures reveal that more than 11 million people are diagnosed with cancers worldwide every year.  It is estimated that there will be 16 million new cancer cases every year by 2020.  In India, one million new patients are diagnosed with cancers every year.  Combine it with the surviving patients and the numbers become mind boggling.  The five most common types of cancers in India are colorectal, lung, stomach, breast and cervix.

Cancer’s Birth

          Cancer is uncontrolled growth of tissue, triggered by the multiplication of abnormal cells in the human body.  Instead of dying, these cells continue to multiply and outlive normal cells by forming new abnormal cells. Each normal cell in the body is programmed to go through a certain amount of doubling, and then die (e.g. skin cells live for 28 days, the cells lining the intestines live for 48 hours, and red blood cells live for about 120 days).  Cancer means that old cells do not die but continue growing until they invade and destroy other natural tissues.  A number of substances including chemicals, ultraviolet rays, viruses, tobacco smoke, wrong diet can damage the genetic material that tells a cell to die. 

Cancer’s Progress

During cancer’s progress, cells can become aggressive (grow and divide without normal limits), invasive (invade and destroy adjacent tissues) and/or metastatic (spread to other locations in the body).  Rather than a single disease, cancer is a group of ailments with one thing in common: it causes body cells to shuck off their constraints and live too long, snatching up resources (such as nutrients and oxygen), and squeezing out healthy cells and tissues as the cancerous tumour grows.  Cancer can arise almost anywhere in the body, from the brain to the blood to the bowels.  It may be aggressive or slow growing, content to remain in one place or eager to spread far and wide.  Cancer can be difficult to detect early, with its cells lying in wait in the body for months or years, slowly gathering strength until they have grown powerful enough to make their presence known.  By then they are pressing on neighbouring organs and tissues, destroying crucial white blood cells or otherwise impeding one’s health. Cancer is a malignant disease that progressively harms the body.  There are two principal features in the development of cancer: the spread and invasion of surrounding tissues known as local spread; and the invasion of the blood and lymphatic system that carries the cancerous cells to form new tumours in other parts of the body.

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