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Life Redefined: The Cause of Cancer

Post Published: 24 January 2012
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Category: Column, Life Redefined, Thyroid Cancer in Young Adults Column
This post currently has 2 responses. Leave a comment

How many times have you wondered what caused your cancer? How many hours have you spent wracking your brain, trying to figure out what you did wrong that caused cancer to grow in your body? I know I’ve thought about it. Was it something I ate? Something I didn’t eat? Lack of exercise? Plain old bad luck? The causes of cancer are endless. Cellphones, styrofoam cups pesticides, high-voltage power lines, tanning beds, alcohol, cigarettes, obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet, viruses and bacteria, genetics, a slew of environmental agents and endocrine disruptors. Of course, in many people, these things don’t cause cancer. So why me? Why us?

In actuality, the real cause of cancer is likely a combination of many of the above factors. Yes, thanks to lots of research from great scientists we are able to identify many agents that cause cancer. For example, cigarettes. There are over 60 carcinogens in a cigarette and we know that smoking cigarettes increases the likelihood of a cancer diagnosis. But not everyone who smokes will develop cancer, so the cause of cancer cannot be cigarettes alone. Realistically, I don’t think most of us will never know the exact cause of our illness because the possibilities are endless. The combinations of possibilities are infinite.

The winter issue of Cure (vol. 10, no. 4) has a great article entitled “Connecting the Dots.” The article discusses some excellent points concerning the questions that we all have about the causes of cancer. While the article doesn’t provide all the answers to our questions, it does provide some excellent tips on how to interpret the various reports that claim the cause has been identified. For example, distinguishing public opinion from scientific discovery. “BPA free” has become such a buzz word that many people purchase products simply because of the label yet have no knowledge of the potential effects BPA actually has on the body. Is BPA a major health concern, or is it more of a marketing ploy? (I’ll let you do your own research and draw your own conclusions as my purpose today isn’t to discuss the health effects of BPA.) The article urges readers to take the time to understand the research and science that is driving public health opinions, and I would urge you to do the same.

Thyroid cancer is now on the National Cancer Institute’s list of common cancers. While we strive to do all that we can to raise public awareness of thyroid cancer, that’s a list that we just don’t want to be on. With an expected 56,460 new cases of thyroid cancer in the United States in 2012, our search for answers has a greater sense of urgency. While many researchers claim that the increase in diagnoses is due to better diagnostics and earlier detection, other scientists say that the cause of increase is unknown. I can’t help but wonder, what if the better diagnostics is actually the cause of the increase? The previously mentioned article in Cure states that “researchers say that the majority of excess radiation exposure may come from the overuse of medical imaging, particularly computed tomography (CT) scans.” Perhaps the improved imaging we now have available is being overused and we are overexposed to radiation, a known cause of cancer. Perhaps. This is yet another question to which I don’t have an answer.

As I continuously ponder these unanswered questions, I’ve resolved to keep focused on what I can control. I have control over the food that I put in my body. I can control the amount of time I exercise each week. I can take measures to control and manage the stress in my life. I can do my part to raise awareness of thyroid cancer, to make others aware of the potential causes and the lasting side effects of life without a thyroid. But I’ll keep asking questions because, in my opinion, constantly asking questions will eventually bring about the change we desire to see.

What are you doing to raise awareness of thyroid diseases and cancers this month? What public opinions surrounding thyroid disease/cancer do you want to change?

References:
*Cure magazine, “Connecting the Dots” http://www.curetoday.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/article.show/id/2/article_id/1790
*National Cancer Institute: http://nci.nih.gov/
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2 Responses to “Life Redefined: The Cause of Cancer”

  1. Lolly says:

    thought provoking I bleive that the amout of radiation our boides are exposed to plays a big part in thyroid cancer and other cancers but you know these tests play are part in detecting diseases like cancer. so it’s a catch 22 situation..I do know now whenver I got or did go for any x-rays of my teeth or upper part of my torso I ask for a radation collar to protect my thyroid..I remember what the technician there said to me “It is only a small amount you won’t need it, I have hypothyroidism and it hasn’t effected me” my point entirely the world we live in is forever changing, increases in cancer, thyroid and other areas is growing so too are life styles chemicals and exposure to radiation play factors in cancers..I hope one day they can isoate the main cuase even thought here are many factors and cures can be had fro all..I also think our bodies are predisposed to cancer. well written Column Joanna.

    • I agree, Lolly–I think radiation exposure is a major factor in causing cancer. Also a major factor in diagnosing cancer. So what are we to do?! Yep, a catch 22. I think the best thing we can do is continue to do our own homework so we know the potential side effects of the tests/scans that our doctors order for us.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Joanna

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