Is There a Magic Bullet to Prevent Cancer?

November 3, 2010

If you see, read or hear medical news on television, magazines or the Web, you will find, almost daily, some cancer research study being published, or referred to, by those who seek to capitalize on those studies to sell their goods and services.

In some cases those trying to capitalize will misquote or take the findings out of context, all the while promising that if you buy their product – today – you will live longer and avoid cancer. They use what I would call “old direct mail” tactics by bolding type to make their key messaging stand out while trying to scare you into action today to save your life. Guess what, it’s bogus.

Unfortunately like the myth of the Fountain of Youth, there is no “magic bullet” to keep cancer at bay.  However, there is an extensive body of research dedicated to what you can do to greatly reduce your risk of cancer; a healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables; staying active and maintaining a healthy weight; not using tobacco products of any kind; and following medical screening guidelines.

One recent online promotion even said cancer is not genetic. While cancer is not passed from one family member to another – genes are. If an immediate family member has suffered from cancer, your cancer risks are greater.  In the case of breast cancer, there are some inherited mutations in particular genes, such as BRAC1 or BRAC2 that are linked to hereditary breast cancer, and some inherited mutations in these genes present a higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Men with BRCA1 mutations also have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Knowing your family history and sharing it with your health care professional is as important in reducing your risk as diet and exercise, avoiding tobacco products and screenings. The knowledge you gain by knowing that history will not only help you, but your siblings and your children.

So how do you know what’s true and what’s not? If it sounds too good to be true, it is. This after all is the age of the internet. With a little bit of web surfing you can find not only the published studies referred to in ads or promotions, but you can find recommended guidelines for reducing your risk.

You can visit www.preventcancer.org to get detailed information on what you can do to reduce your risks, and the Foundation’s blog at www.blog.preventcancer.org to get the latest information on prevention and early detection methods from noted scientists and health professionals.

Twenty five years ago the Foundation took the very novel road of prevention and early detection to fight cancer. Not treatment, not cure.  We’ve funded researchers in prevention and early detection strategies, educated the public on those findings, and helped to provide cancer prevention screening and education programs across the country.

Here we are in 2010 and the Prevent Cancer Foundation is still the ONLY cancer-related organization completely focused on cancer prevention and early detection. We don’t claim to have the magic bullet to cure cancer but we can give you the ammunition you need to prevent cancer before it starts or detect it early when the chances for recovery are high.

I know there are many of you who have a personal cancer prevention success story and I would love if you would share it with us.

2 thoughts on “Is There a Magic Bullet to Prevent Cancer?”

  1. Rafe Furst says:

    Great post, Jan.

    One thing I think it’s important to understand about genetic “risk factors” is that they are not determinants. They are potentials. What determines whether an increased risk factor — genetic or otherwise — turns into actual cancer is what you personally do with the knowledge of the risk factor.

    If you learn that your risk profile is elevated, will you modify your diet, quit smoking, exercise more? Or will you bury your head in the sand, deny the science, feel like it’s hopeless and that there’s nothing you can do? And here’s the kicker: the way you answer this question *also* affects your risk profile.

    In other words, your destiny is not determined by genetics, not even close. The scientific consensus is that genetic risk factors constitute only 5% of your total risk. Over 75% of your risk comes from the choices you make in your daily life (with environment making up the rest).

    I encourage everyone to find out their family history. Why? Because our genes are not the only things we inherit. We also inherit our beliefs and practices around food, exercise, smoking and more. If there is a history of cancer in your family, this is an opportunity for you to break that cycle by examining these non-genetic inheritances, and consciously making the choice to listen to the science, change your behavior, and increase your lifespan, your overall health and your happiness.

  2. Ann Kulze MD says:

    Excellent post Jan. I want to second Rafe’s comments that contrary to popular belief, genes are not destiny. Just like a gun – they indeed hold the power, but someone has to first pull the trigger. In the case of our genes, we now know “the trigger” is diet and lifestyle practices over time.Individuals hold enormous power over their health destiny and I am grateful for the extraordinary work the Prevent Cancer Foundation does to empower people to take charge of their health.

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