Lifestyle habits: the main causes of the emergence of cancer

Lifestyle habits: the main causes of the emergence of cancer

You are about 100 times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at age 70 than at age 20. Several observations suggest that this increase in incidence is due to a decrease in the effectiveness of our anticancer defenses during aging.

The emergence of cancer is not an instant phenomenon that occurs overnight. On the contrary, over years and decades, the cells of the body accumulated multiple genetic mutations that transformed their functions and allowed them to grow and invade the body.

Therefore, the sharp increase in cancers at advanced ages is a partial reflection of the time it takes cells to accumulate the mutation ‘arsenal’.

However, several observations suggest that these mutations are not the only reason older people are more likely to develop cancer. For example, so many mutations appear during body development that when our growth ends, at the end of adolescence, we have already accumulated the majority of these precancerous mutations.

In this sense, studies show that 33% of women in their forties already have small breast tumors and about 40% of men of the same age have prostate tumors. However, a much smaller percentage of the population (between 10% and 15%) will develop any of these cancers, even at older ages.

In other words, the increase in cancer incidence with age cannot be explained solely as an accumulation of mutations by cells during aging.

Our lifestyle habits promote or prevent cancer

The environment in which abnormal cells that seek to become cancerous are found is usually highly resistant to the growth of these tumors. It is a very basic adaptation to the evolution of complex organisms such as humans.

In fact, the process of cell division necessary to keep our bodies working generates billions of cells every day, including one million abnormal cells, and thus it is necessary to prevent these cells from reaching a cancerous stage.

However, our lifestyle habits can drastically alter this environment and make it more permissive for abnormal cell growth. Smoking, poor diet, excess weight and lack of physical activity all have the common characteristics of promoting inflammation of this environment, a condition that promotes the acquisition of carcinogenic properties by abnormal cells.

As we age, the impact of these bad habits becomes more significant and the weakening of our natural defense mechanisms increases the likelihood that the abnormal cell will escape these defenses and develop into a mature cancer.

Help your immune defenses

Although cancer is more common at older ages, it is not an inevitable consequence of aging. But to prevent this disease, it is absolutely necessary to preserve our natural defenses as much as possible, especially by reducing the development of chronic inflammation to a minimum.

A diet rich in plants and free from bad foods loaded with harmful sugars and fats, regular physical activity and maintaining a normal weight remains the best strategy for living a long life without being affected by cancer.

Degregori J. Challenging the axiom: does the occurrence of cancerous mutations really limit the development of cancer with age? Tumors

* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In any case, the information provided cannot replace the advice of a health professional.

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