Early-onset cancers (those diagnosed before the age of 50) have been rising dramatically since the 1990s.
Researchers analyzed global data on the incidence of 14 different cancers, including breast, colorectal, endometrial, head/neck, kidney, pancreatic, prostate, stomach, thyroid, and multiple myeloma.
They discovered that the risk of each of these cancers has been increasing with each successive group of individuals born since 1950. For instance, those born in 1960 experienced a higher risk than those born in 1950. Those born in 1970 experienced a higher risk than those born in 1960…and the risk has continued to rise with each successive generation.
What Are the Causes of Cancer?
Determining the underlying cause(s) of cancer has always been a challenge. In part, this is because oftentimes years, even decades, pass between the time cells mutate and cancer is detected.
Cancers start from a genetic mutation that causes the uncontrollable reproduction of abnormal cells. The abnormal cells can then invade other tissues near the initial tumor site and also travel to other parts of the body via the lymph system and bloodstream.
Cell mutation can be triggered by dozens of factors (or a combination of factors), including:
- An inherited genetic predisposition
- Exposure to a toxic chemical or radiation source
- Hormone imbalance
- Nutritional deficiency
Our bodies are constantly producing new cells for growth and repair. Some of the cells will naturally have damaged DNA and have the potential to become cancerous.
Fortunately, most of the time these cells either die off through apoptosis (a natural process of self-destruction), repair themselves, are destroyed by the immune system.
The researchers also compared the various trends and lifestyle changes since the 1950s to the known risk factors for developing cancer.
The discovered that each subsequent generation has been exposed earlier in life to:
- A diet rich in refined and artificial foods
- Less exercise
- Environmental chemicals/toxins
- Weight gain/obesity
- Inadequate sleep
- Antibiotics and other drugs
Reversing the Trend
Sadly, I don’t see major changes in our food supply happening any time soon. As such, if you want to protect yourself, your family, and future generations, you’ll have to personally make the effort to make important changes.
Here are six things you can do right now that can have the biggest impact.
Avoid Tobacco & Limit Alcohol
All tobacco—cigarette and oral—needs to be avoided. Statistics show that one out of three cancer deaths can be attributed to smoking.
While tobacco smoking seems to be less popular in the younger population, vaping has taken its place. Many are under the impression that this new habit is a harmless substitute to conventional smoking. It’s not.
Inhaling irritants of any form is dangerous. Trends like vaping are one of the many reasons each successive generation is experiencing higher cancer rates.
Make Sleep a Priority
Believe it or not, poor sleep and cancer development are linked. In addition to needing a regular sleep cycle to facilitate cellular growth and repair, the body’s circadian clock is responsible for timing the production and release of hormones. One of these hormones, melatonin, has been shown to be a strong cancer deterrent and can even help in eliminating existing cancer cells.
Just a small amount of light in a room at night can alter the production of melatonin. Making your bedroom totally dark is something that typically takes little effort, but it can have a profound effect on your health and well-being.
Sleep apnea has been shown to also increase the risk of cancer. If you snore, see a sleep specialist to get evaluated and, if necessary, treated for sleep apnea.
Focus on Natural Whole Foods
It’s not always easy or convenient for every meal to be healthy. But it is important for your body to always have the proper vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and polyphenols for optimal function.
\These days, though, we see more and more packaged, prepared foods in the marketplace. The trend is to avoid having to cook. As a result, our society consumes fewer fresh vegetables and fruits. Yet these are the very foods that supply the nutrients that have been repeatedly proven to prevent cancer. This is particularly true when it comes to cruciferous vegetables.
Meat gets a bad rap too, as the current trend is to minimize it in favor of fake vegetable-based meats—which are loaded with chemicals. Our ancestors have safely consumed meat for thousands of years. Not many foods are more nutritious than meat broths.
Vegetable oils are another food to avoid. Research has shown that when societies switch from using minimally processed oils like olive and avocado, to highly processed oils (corn, soybean, canola, etc.), margarine, and shortening, the incidence of certain cancers rise.
Finally, eliminate sugar as much as possible. It is a food that can cause cancer as cancer feeds on it.
Eat More Fiber-Rich & Fermented Foods
The microbiome has dramatically changed with each generation. This is no doubt due to two things:
- Lack of fermented foods in the diet
- Greater use of antibiotics
The microbiome in the large intestine makes up 90% of your immune system. Not only do these beneficial bacteria fight off pathogenic microbes when they enter the digestive tract, they also produce pathogen-destroying compounds that enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body.
Fiber feeds the microorganisms in our gut. A lack of high-fiber, raw fruits and vegetables directly affects the not just the composition of the microbiome, but also the risk of cancer development and treatment outcome.
Most of our foods are processed to prolong shelf life and eliminate bacteria…both good and bad. For that reason, access to true live fermented foods can be difficult. This is why I recommend making your own, along with taking a high-quality probiotic supplement daily as additional “insurance.”
Minimize Medication Use
With each passing generation, we become more and more drug dependent. In the 1950s, pharmaceutical drug use was extremely uncommon. People today think nothing of taking a long list of over-the-counter and prescription medications.
Along with antibiotics, acid blockers are one other large class of drugs that alter the composition of beneficial bacteria in the gut and have been shown to increase risk of cancer.
Each passing generation has become less and less active. Not only does inactivity directly raise the risk of cancer, it also leads to many body changes that contribute to the disease: Obesity, blood sugar abnormalities, and constipation, to name a few.
Something as simple as regular walking helps boost the immune system and lowers the risk of cancer and numerous other diseases. Just 30 minutes a day can do wonders.
The Bottom Line
Cancer isn’t the only disease that is becoming more common with each generation. Many conditions like arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes were once considered “old people’s diseases.” Today, they’re routinely diagnosed in not just in 40- and 50-year-olds, but young adults and even teens.
You have the power to reverse this disturbing trend. And there is no better time to start than right now.