If you want to avoid cancer – find a naturopath.

You may have heard that cancer is due to faulty genes or inheritance, or that it is the result of chance or bad luck.  This is not born of the evidence.

Cancer is fundamentally different from almost any other disease. It is not a disease of a particular organ or tissue, nor is it due to the actions of pathogens such as a virus, bacteria or mould.

Cancer is a disease (growth) that occurs at, in or on an organ or tissue.  It is not a disease of an organ or tissue.

A large proportion of health problems occur when some part of your body, an organ or tissue, fails to function correctly. Heart disease results when the heart or arteries fail to function correctly.  The solution is to try to restore normal heart function. Dementia can occur when the brain tissue is damaged or ceases to function correctly.  The solution and the aim being to restore normal brain function.  You can have various diseases of the digestive system when any part of it fails to function correctly.

In fact, the focus when dealing with most health problems is to try to restore normal function to the part that is failing to do its job correctly. Not so with cancer. A woman with breast cancer is not experiencing reduced ability to produce breast milk – the prime function of the breast – nor is the solution to breast cancer to find ways of increasing lactation.

Another group of health problems is the result of the actions of toxic organisms or pathogens.  Our massive use of antibiotics underscores this. The assumption is that if you kill the pathogen, the bacteria or mould, or if you destroy the virus, the problem will be solved. Despite numerous attempts, starting about a hundred and fifty years ago, there has been non-convincing evidence that cancer is caused by such an agent.

It is true that certain organisms are associated with cancer, but a direct causal link has not been established.  Cervical cancer may be made more likely by the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV), but many women have had cancer without having the virus. Many women with the virus do not have cancer.  The same is true, for instance, with stomach cancer and Helicobacter pylori.  There are associations, but the association does not prove causation. The search has been extensive. Imagine the financial bonanza that would accrue to a company that developed a convincing drug that effectively killed the organism that caused cancer.

There is another group of diseases that are considered deficiency diseases. Put simply, anaemia, for instance, can be due to a lack of iron, osteoporosis to a lack of calcium or other bone-related minerals.

In these instances, it is common to find that the deficient nutrients are an essential part of the normal process of the specified part or function of the body. A tumour has no specific function and there is no specified nutrient needed for its growth and survival.  The growth itself is not normal.

It is true that a lack of a wide variety of nutrients may increase the risk of cancer, but does not directly cause cancer. Again, the association does not imply causation. There are many predisposing factors to cancer but they do not cause it.  However, predisposing factors are a topic for another Naturopathic Note.