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What is the Connection Between Inflammation and Cancer?

By Brandon May
Updated May 17, 2024
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The proposed connections between inflammation and cancer stem from long-term scientific evaluations on the expression and development of certain cells in the body reacting to an inflammatory response. When an inflammatory response occurs inside the body, mechanisms that induce DNA change or oxidative damage can increase the likelihood that a cancer may develop. Chronic inflammation due to a poor lifestyle, such as smoking and eating the incorrect diet, can greatly maximize the chances of a body succumbing to cancer later on in life. Genetic factors may also play a role of inflammation and cancer, as can environmental factors such as exposure to toxins.

When an injury occurs, or when the body is exposed to toxins, chemicals or poor nutrition, inflammation can occur and create damage in the walls of the tissues and lead to oxidative damage in the form of free radicals. These free radicals contribute greatly to the link between inflammation and cancer and are also known as precursors to certain carcinogens. Carcinogens are the root cause of the inflammation that contribute to cancer or tumor development, and are found in various places, from food to chemicals in perfumes or house cleaners. Viral infections can also cause inflammation, placing those who experience chronic infections at a very high risk of developing cancer later on.

Chemical irritants, which can also be termed chemical carcinogens when they contain known cancer-causing compounds, are strongly linked to inflammation and cancer. Individuals who reside in environments where chemicals are pervasive, such as in farming environments where pesticides are constantly sprayed, face risking cancer development. Some compounds in these chemicals can interfere with cell apoptosis, or the ability cells have to quickly die if they become mutant or cancerous. These chemicals are not only found in pesticides, but can be found in home insect repellents, cosmetic products and kitchen and bath cleaners.

In order to keep both inflammation and cancer away, it is best to go straight to the root cause of the problem beforehand, rather than waiting until dangerous symptoms have to be addressed. Reducing exposure to known carcinogens or inflammatory conditions are the best preventive approaches to fighting inflammation and cancer, and to providing a better quality of life in the long run. Avoiding cigarette smoke, chemical irritants and poor food choices are the best and easiest ways of eliminating, or at least reducing, exposure to carcinogenic compounds. Adding anti-inflammatory foods are recommended by some doctors and nutritionists for preventive techniques, and many doctors will use anti-inflammatory medications to treat inflammatory conditions and sometimes cancer.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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