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Chris Woolmams / Catherine Woollams
The Four Pillars of Cancer

Understanding the causes and drivers of cancer

Back in 2004, CANCERactive was founded on a mission - a mission to stop people dying of ignorance. And so, as part of that mission, it was little surprise that we became the UK number 1 cancer prevention charity. 

What had alarmed us (a Biochemist and a Chemist) was that there was so much known about preventing cancer, the causes and the drivers. But so much of this is just not passed on - by schools, Health Authorities and Cancer Charities. 

Worse, understanding the causes doesn´t just help people PREVENT cancer. If not tackled, often the very elements that caused a person´s cancer remain, but now DRIVE the cancer unless tackled fully.

This article is the ´Master article´ - it groups the causes and drivers of cancer under FOUR headings - Since 2004, we have called them THE FOUR PILLARS of CANCER. Each Pillar then has an article of its own.

The Four Pillars of Cancer

There are hundreds of ways of approaching the subject of cancer - its prevention or its treatment. Everybody seems to have a different view. When CANCERactive held the first major UK conference on Prevention in 2004,  Professor Tony Howell of Christie´s Manchester, took the approach that once cancer had been detected and treated in one breast, it was his job to prevent it returning in the other breast. For him prevention was what others might think of as treatment.

So how can we start to simplify this? What factors might have caused the cancer in the first place - and do they remain today, driving the cancer in your body, or helping prepare the path for its return?

About the same time, the World Health Organisation reported that there were three overall headings for the causes of cancer, and tried to estimate the relevance of each. They stated that:

50 per cent cancer were caused by POOR DIET

25 per cent cancers were caused by ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS

25 per cent cancers were caused by INFECTION

But many cancer experts would argue (and certainly the latest research would support them) that MENTAL STATE, STRESS and EMOTIONS play a huge role in cancer. Not just have scientists at Yale shown that two cancer-causing genes are urned on by the effects of stress hormones, UCLA have shown that stress hormone levels actually increase if you develop cancer - and this helps the cancer spread. Indeed, UCLA have a number of reports on how ´actively managing´ stress hormones actually helps people with cancer survive longer.

Four Pillars of cancer confirmed by the Science of Epigenetics

The developing Science of Epigenetics is clear. Cancer is largely a metabolic disease, not a disease as we have been told for 60 years caused by mutational sequence changes inside your DNA, resulting from errors in replication or damage,

And the scientists claim that there are four pillars to cancer, just as we have always argued - Poor Diet, Environmental Toxins, Stress and Hormones such as oestrogen. 

Each causes fundamental changes around (epi = around) your DNA, by increasing histone levels and then blockages of crucial healthy messages in the body. Result chronic illness like cancer. Read more about epigenetics and reversing cancer.

So we have produced FOUR individual starter articles on the causes and drivers of cancer for you:

Pillar 1 - Poor Diet
Pillar 2 - Environmental Causes of cancer 
Pillar 3 -
Pillar 4 - Mental Attitude and Stress

                                                   ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Why Worry About The Causes?

Open quotes50 years ago those people with genetic factors had a
                                      40 per cent chance of developing the diseaseClose quotes

Most people reading this article have cancer. A number do not, and nor do they want it.

A few people, however, may feel cancer ´runs in their family´. Certainly 50 years ago those people with genetic factors (such as BRCA1 and BRCA2) had a 40 per cent chance of developing the disease. With modern environments and modern lifestyle, that figure is now just over 70 per cent. However, before those people get too depressed, please be aware that a 2001 Swedish study of identical twins across Europe showed that just because one family member with the genes developed a disease, the identical sibling did not have to, providing he or she took important lifestyle and dietary steps for avoidance. That´s the good news.

To a great degree, the power of cancer prevention is in your own hands. The US Chief Medical Officer said that, "this study should remove the ´fatalism´ that because it runs in my family, I must get it too." You do not ´have´ to get cancer as long as you are prepared to make some effort. The ´4 Pillars hopefully tells you how to ´do´ the basics!

But understanding the causes is also crucial to the person already diagnosed with cancer. Why?

Because what caused the cancer could still be there, driving it.

Understanding Cause Is Crucial To Treatment

Take Geoff Boycott, the cricket legend. A tumour on the back of his tongue. They were going to break his jaw, cut it out, give him chemo- and radiotherapy. It´s an odd place for a tumour. Did he smoke; drink excessive alcohol; or use alcohol-based mouthwash. No.

We concluded he had an infection; a parasite picked up on one of his many world cricket tours. A round of parasite killer and the tumour started to disappear.

Take Professor Jane Plant, for example. Breast cancer was diagnosed, various orthodox treatments used and failed and with tumours behind her neck, she was told to go home and make a will. As a scientist herself, she decided to look for the cause, identified the possibility of dairy, cut this out and within six weeks the tumours had gone. But then, many breast cancers are hormonally driven and since 1991 (NCI, America) we have known that both oestrogen and IGF-1, found in large amounts in cows´ dairy, can each promote cancer and interfere with cell division causing cells to multiply rapidly and even mutate.

Open quotesMany such cancers are a result of ´toxins´, poisoning the systemClose quotes

Take Michael Gearin-Tosh, Oxford Don and multiple myeloma sufferer who, given the choice at the time of diagnosis of extending his life expectancy from 18 months to 30 months by having chemotherapy, instead chose to use the Gerson Therapy and survived and thrived for almost 10 years until a completely unrelated factor caused his death. He looked into the research on the causes of multiple myeloma and found there was a higher incidence amongst farmers and people using toxins and pesticides. For him then, the Gerson therapy was an excellent way of ´detoxifying´ the blood system and cells and removing the cause.

Changing The Odds

With every cancer there is an average 5-year survival rate. It´s a statistic. A rate that varies, often widely, by country. With prostate cancer in Austria the 5-year survival figure was 83.6%, but in England it was only 53.8% according to Eurocare 3. Clearly then the package of medical treatments, your lifestyle and diet can increase, or worsen, your odds of survival. There´s plenty to play for.

For example, in 2012 The American Cancer Society produced a report (subsequently endorsed by the prestigious NCI), stating that since 2006, there had been an ´explosion´ in research into complementary therapies and that there was ´overwhelming´ evidence that diet, weight control and exercise can increase survival and even prevent a cancer returning. Frankly, every cancer patient should know this.

Cutting out the causes - The most important step in Treating Cancer?

I know it sounds a bit simplistic but if I were an oncologist, or merely a GP, with a newly diagnosed cancer patient, I´d be spending serious time with them asking:

Q: What may have caused this cancer and what might therefore be maintaining it?

For example, is it hormonally driven? (Oestrogen drives far more than just breast cancer!)

And then I´d be saying to the patient:

Let´s address the possible causes, while tackling the cancer, and we will also try to get you fit and healthy again. Sadly, most modern medicine only tries to tackle the cancer, and increasingly this doesn´t mean ´cure´ but cancer management. Nothing is really done about cutting out the causes or helping you get fit and healthy again. We promise on this website we will help you address it all.

Open quotesCancer is systemic - weak immune systems lead

                                       to more disease and more cancerClose quotes

Cancer is a whole body disease. Lowered oxygen, acid conditions, weak immune system, toxins, imbalanced hormones etc. etc. Throughout the body. And this dictates a whole body treatment approach.

And so we come back to you, the reader and, if you have a cancer, how you might begin adding to your doctor´s orthodox expertise.

Poor Diet, Toxins, Infections, Mental State? We urge you to consider them all. They are intertwined.

For example, depression lowers your blood oxygen; poor diet weakens your immune system. This may be exacerbated by certain chemicals and toxins, increasing the chances of infection and ´tipping you over the edge´ into a cancer.

So don´t look for one cause, examine your whole lifestyle. Try to build a ´new you´.

Read all 4 articles in the ´4 pillars of cancer´ series; copy them and read them at your leisure. Go to our section on The ACTIVE8 PROGRAMME - it will help you further.

Take the articles with you when you see your oncologist and tell him clearly what you intend to do to increase your own chances of survival around his plans for you. Be open, be honest. But remember, it´s your life. And you must be happy with the final plan.

Building an Integrated Cancer Treatment Programme

Open quotesYou are now entering a world largely outside your GP and oncologist´s medical trainingClose quotes

There are two fundamental truths about building a complementary therapy plan around your doctor´s orthodox medicine:

1. It works. Building an Integrated or Holistic Programme, using complementary therapies, increases your odds of survival and can even prevent a cancer returning.

2. Your doctor will not know much about complementary therapies. He may possible be ´Enlightened´ as Dr Henry Friedman (see Amy´s Story) is in America. Or he may feel threatened and challenged and thus be dismissive. 

So consider this:

I: Poor diet/good diet - we know oncologists who will confirm that they have never spent a single day studying nutrition or diet (nor supplements) and therefore are simply not qualified to express an opinion. However, despite this, some will reject all supplementation and diet therapies.

II: Environmental Toxins - the majority of these, and their links to cancer are way beyond your doctor´s knowledge or training. Even Cancer Research is quite dismissive of their involvement (except for smoking). But the original Doll and Peto study estimated 2-4 per cent of (non-smoking related) cancers were caused this way over 30 years ago. New research puts the figure at over 25 per cent in line with the WHO. That´s 80,000 cancers a year in the UK.

III: Infection - here your doctor should be able to advise, although science is moving very quickly and they may not be completely up-to-date. Professor Dalgleish at our Prevention Conference estimated that we currently know 20 per cent of cancers are caused by parasites, and the figure is climbing.

IV: Mental State - almost certainly an area completely foreign to your oncologist. It is a new and very specialised area. But the research is clear, as we will show you.

So he may encourage you, or he may try to dissuade you. All the more reason to Photostat whole articles and give him a copy. Beating cancer is about RISK MANAGEMENT. And that´s all we are trying to do in this section: Improve your statistics and make you a well-above-average case. We simply want to help you take some control over your own life and your own health; and increase your personal odds of survival by making more-informed personal choices.

Further Reading?

Pillar I: A Diet to Beat Cancer

Pillar II: Environmental Causes of Cancer

Pillar III: Infection as a cause of cancer

Pillar IV: Mental State and Stress and their involvement with cancer

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