• Anita Hollerer-Squire

Ways to prevent cancer

Did you know that 1 out of 3 people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime?

Diseases like cancer are developed as a result of the foods we eat, the air we breathe, environmental pollution, stress levels, lack of exercise and other factors......all of which have a direct impact on how our genes are expressed. Did you know that our genes can be "switched on" or "switched off"?

Dr. Michelle de la Vega, Ph.D. - a research scientist at the Health Sciences Academy in the UK - has been investigating epigenetics for over 15 years to see how alterations in cells and DNA lead to disease.

Epigenetics is the science of how environmental signals select, modify and regulate our gene activity.

Dr. de la Vega says that although we inherit our genes from our mums and dads, environmental influences can regulate whether these genes are turned "on" or "off".

Most of us were born genetically healthy - only 5 % of the population inherited a predisposition for serious diseases like cancers, diabetes etc. Even if you are in the 5 % that inherited genes that predispose you to disease you can still prevent those genes from becoming active.

During Dr. de la Vega's lab work at Harvard, she looked at how nutritional compounds changed gene expression on normal cells and on cancer cells. Some changes may cause the cancer to metastasise (travel) to other sides and set up shop there, while other changes decrease the cancer to travel further.

90 - 95 % of all cancers are due to diet and lifestyle factors, like poor nutrition, smoking, alcohol and lack of exercise.

Poor diet significantly increases the risk factor of cancer. The graph below shows the risk in % related to diet: