Understanding the Link Between Oxidative Stress and Cancer

There’s no denying that constant exposure to stress, especially chronic stress has a negative impact on our wellbeing. Most of us have at least a few sources of negative emotions and anxiety that ultimately affect our mind as well as our body, from a stressful occupation, relationship troubles, all the way to chronic health issues. Alas, not understanding different types of stress and how they impact our health can lead to very complex, long-term illnesses the likes of cancer. When we continuously try to heal the consequence without addressing the culprits, we fail to provide our body with the necessary means to heal. That is precisely why learning about oxidative stress, its role in the human body, and the various ways in which you can reduce it are all vital steps in cancer prevention and lowering your risk of developing other illnesses related to oxidative stress.

Understanding oxidative stress

The simplest possible explanation of this natural process is that it is caused by an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in your body. The former are unstable, harmful molecules that have the ability to damage your cells as well as your DNA. While they are naturally occurring in your body, and they cause natural degenerative processes such as aging, your body can produce them much faster due to certain lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, and the like. The latter, antioxidants, are essential in warding off free radicals and restoring that chemical balance in your body. While some level of oxidative stress is perfectly natural, a significant portion of it can be reduced and prevented by changing your lifestyle habits. When you fail to keep those free radicals at bay, your body is at risk of developing diseases such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and Alzheimer’s, among many others. 

Stress as the cancer culprit

Oxidative stress has a natural propensity to cause cell damage. However, while your body is perfectly equipped to handle cell replacement and repair, too much oxidative stress means that your body doesn’t have the capacity to protect you properly. That, in turn, means too much damage to certain cells, and finally, possible cell mutations which lead to cancer and other diseases. In fact, by triggering that initial cell mutation, oxidative stress further affects its proliferation, which means that oxidative stress also leads to cancer metastasis. 

Focusing on antioxidants

The greatest allies in your preventative efforts against cancer and other diseases are precisely the compounds you need in your system to reduce the negative impact of free radicals which cause oxidative stress. Known as antioxidants, these compounds are obtained from food, thus making your diet one of the best ways to practice proper cancer prevention. For starters, you can introduce foods rich in vitamins and minerals that have antioxidative properties, such as berries of all kinds (blueberries, goji berries, strawberries, etc.), greens such as spinach, and legumes such as beans. To maximize the effect of your diet, you can use supplementation to make sure that the bioavailability of those antioxidants is optimal for your body to truly utilize them. For instance, anti-inflammatory curcumin supplements loaded with antioxidants are better absorbed by your body than in the form of the actual spice in your food. Simply put, the best way to fight free radical damage is to give your body an antioxidant boost through your nutrition choices.

Altering your lifestyle

In addition to your diet, other behaviors can make or break your efforts to prevent and treat cancer. While you now know what you should eat, you also need to know which foods to avoid. Highly-processed foods and beverages loaded with sugar, additives, and trans-fats should be left out of your menu. If you lead a sedentary life, you should consider adding a workout routine to improve your overall health. Certain habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol also lead to higher levels of oxidative stress and free radicals in your body – use this as your inspiration to finally put an end to those self-destructive behaviors. 

Mind your environment

Finally, where we spend our lives also has a profound impact on our bodies and our wellbeing. Naturally, high levels of pollution have been linked to greater oxidative stress in the body, which in turn leads to an increased risk of cancer and other illnesses. If you can choose your place of residence, spending more time in nature, away from air, soil, water, and noise pollution will help your body stay healthy for longer. As for your home environment, reduce your exposure to harsh chemicals which are known cancer culprits, and opt for more natural yet equally effective options you can make yourself or purchase in a local store. 

A little can indeed go a long way in preventing cancer and reducing your risk to fall ill. However, long-term habits and consistently healthy behaviors are your best bet against cancer, so be mindful of your lifestyle and do your best to reduce oxidative stress in your body.