Why is there so much cancer around?

I haven’t really been on for weeks now, but in the past few days I have been wondering why there is so much cancer around and whether there is something in our modern environment that is causing it all. Earlier in the year my SiL found out she had bowel cancer through the local screening programme. Thankfully, she only needed surgery and did not have to go through chemo, but they had to remove about 2 feet of her colon and she was in a high dependency unit for 10 days as she was so unwell.

Within the past week my younger next door neighbour has found out she has cancer following a hysterectomy 4 weeks ago. She was summoned back to the hospital for an emergency appointment last week, is now about to go for a scan next week and has been told she will initially need 6 chemos spaced over 24 weeks. Needless to say she is dumbstruck.

Then last night I found out that my brother’s stepdaughter has been diagnosed with cancer of the spine after being off work with back problems. Subsequent tests have detected a lump in her breast, so they now think this is BC which has spread. She is still only in her 20s and this just seems so unfair in a young woman with a good career and her life in front of her. She is currently in hospital and her mum and my brother are with her every day - her mum is in remission from lung cancer which was diagnosed a year ago.

Over the past 2 years this makes a total of 6 people I have known who have all had a cancer diagnosis - the 6th is a cousin’s SiL who was diagnosed with BC just before Christmas and who has recently undergone a mastectomy as they were unable to shrink her tumour. No 5 is a guy I know who suddenly found out he had a brain tumour after a visit to the optician.

It just seems like everybody is getting cancer at the moment. I was so upset for my neighbour last week I’ve been meditating a lot as I didn’t know what to say when she told me and I felt totally useless. In the past 5 years she has lost her mum, BiL and brother to different types of cancer and I know she is really scared.

It kind of makes me feel there is something sinister going on.

Hi, Do you know i often ask he same question, infact only last night a group of us was talking about this.

I live in Spain and have been here for the last 4 yrs, In a small family run hotel I worked in only maximum 9 staff 5 of us have cancer unfortunately 2 have passed away !

I sometimes wonder if it’s because all our electric cables are still overhead, then I got to doing some research into my area turns out that 43 yrs ago 4 nuclear bombs were dropped as the 2 planes that were carrying them crashed! one of these did open and one was lost at sea, although the authorites say there was minimal fall out!

Someone also said to me that because we have cancer there always seem to be more ie. we take more notice, although i don’t think this is the case…

I think we all look for a reason at some point as to why !!!

Hope this helps. Teresa x

I think our entire lives are toxic. Every day we are exposed to hundreds, maybe thousands of chemicals that are either carcinogenic or endocrine disruptors - in our toiletries, our food and drinks, our household products, our cars, our gardens, our medicines (the pill, HRT) the air we breathe - even our clothes and furniture. Whilst each individual chemical is deemed safe at the level of exposure, nobody tests the effects of simultaneous exposure to all these chemicals at once. Certain jobs place you at much higher risk - women working on farms in Canada have 9 times the national risk for breast cancer, due to exposure to pesticides.

My personal obsession is with food and the terrible quality of the diet most of us eat. What we are told is a healthy balanced diet (5 a day) is no such thing when it comes to cancer. Bowel cancer is almost entirely diet related - about 90% I believe. Only about 20% of breast cancers are genetic - for the rest we need to look at an environmental cause.

We are too fat, we drink too much, we smoke, we don’t exercise, we eat toxic food, we pump ourselves full of hormones - then we get cancer. The more I think about it the more I believe it is not so shocking how many of us do have cancer, but how many don’t!

I agree with Finty i think its our modern environment and food and toiletries i was horrified to learn that they can put any chemical in toiletries and make-up product and its not regulated one particular chemical is used in anti freeze so its like rubbing antifreeze into your skin.( propylene glycol) this is also used in Purrell hand sanitizer that i use as a nurse in hospital all the time 1000’s times a day as i work on the isolation ward so this shocked me .Also when you think of all the pesticides and genetically modified foods etc so we can grow certain fruits and veg all year round its quite scarey ( have a look at the website ) breastcancerchoices.org/personalproducts .Its very interesting and makes you think.

hear hear finty. our diet is appalling. this is a capitalist society and is only focused on making money. so supermarkets are filled with nutritionally empty products full of additives and stripped of any natural goodness. Statistically, the incidence of cancer has grown alarmingly since the introduction of mass produced ‘fake’ foods. Even what we are brainwashed into believing is ‘healthy’ eating isn’t necessarily so. For example there is overwhelming evidence that sugar and not fat is the big baddy in the diet and yet we are bombarded with propaganda about how bad fat is.
I also have to laugh when I read that the number 3 cause of death is doctors! in a 10 year period in the USA over 7 million Americans died as a result of medical mistakes! Sadly, once we have the dx of cancer we are on the medical treadmill and afraid to step off.
alex

I think it is part better diagnosis, part better awareness on our part to look and go to the GP with any worrying symptom that we have. It is also compared to say 50 years ago we are living longer and with a better lifestyle we expect to be healthier.

A better diet is good for everyone with or without cancer. Using less chemicals is again better for everyone. But please don’t beat yourself up by thinking that you gave yourself cancer by what you ate or washed your hair with, we didn’t.

I did NOT give myself cancer by eating processed food or dying my hair (when I had some LOL). If eating an organic diet makes you feel better it is doing you good, if partaking of some alternative therapies makes you feel good again it is doing you good. But NEVER EVER make someone feel bad because they do not. Some do not because they can’t afford them, neither is cheap. I will put my faith in my oncologist until evidence conclusive proves he is wrong. I only have I life to live and I want to live it as long as I can, diet and alternative therapies are not proven enough for me except to help me relax which they do and that helps

Bboonie - although it is absolutely correct that we are living longer and diagnosis is better, it still doesn’t account for the huge rise in breast cancer in the UK and most western countries. Most national statistics are age adjusted anyway so whether we are living longer is not a factor in the statistics, and the incidence of breast cancer has risen steadily long after the introduction of regular mammograms and screening programmes. So there is something else going on.

I am not blaming myself or anyone else for getting breast cancer, even though with a radical lifestyle change I now think I would have had a good chance of prevention. But, like most people, I wasn’t willing to make the changes as the risk seemed small enough to ignore. I was totally wrong about the size of the risk - I had no idea it is about a 1 in 8 or 9 lifetime risk, I also had no idea I was in a high risk category.

Also I think you make a very common mistake in referring to alternative therapies - all the things I am doing are complementary therapies, alongside everything that I can persuade my oncologist to throw at it. I would hate you to think I would suggest not using conventional mediceine - I think that would be mad!

Also I would hope not to ever make anyone feel bad for not taking measures in addition to conventional therapy - everyone should make an informed choice. But the problem as I see it is it isn’t an informed choice for most people. I find it very sad that there is a lot of evidence showing changes in diet and lifestyle can improve outcomes, but only those that make a lot of effort to search it out are aware of it - because we are told so little by our doctors. I am sure this is why you feel there is no evidence to support it, but it isn’t true.

If you would like some evidence that diet can hold cancer at bay in patients with active cancer, I will happily provide it.

finty xx

The first thing I was asked by the breast consultant was did I breast feed my children and the answer was no.I think that not breast feeding my 3 children did have something to do with me getting breast cancer.I don’t blame myself or get stressed out about it,it happened and there is nothing I can do about it now,but I do think it played a part.

Mell xx

Melly I’m sure with all of us it’s multifactorial, though perhaps a different “tipping” factor in each case making the cancer proliferate…eg I breastfed x 4 babies, average for 1 year each, I’ve always been lean and fairly fit, eat well etc - my cancer is strongly E++. Maybe it’s just because I’m female, maybe ironically had too many children (dark thought but over it now), or ate too much meat in childhood and early adult life ? Who knows ?

I’m glad you’ve accepted calmly that not breastfeeding was your “tipping” factor, all I’ll say is it might have been something else entirely, but at least we can agree on the need to look forward not back, and do all we can to prevent recurrence.

In my own case, the surgeon told me the worst thing I could do was wonder why I got BC as they would probably never be able to tell me. He also warned against going down the route of “why me?” as it would not help either. I have always kept those two things in mind and found the easiest way to deal with this was to accept my diagnosis as quickly as possible, then try to get myself through the treatment however I could.

Neither myself or my husband ever wanted to have children, we are genuinely people who have no maternal or paternal instinct and I never experienced the “body clock” stuff either. I’ve read all those scare stories about childless women and cancer in the papers, but I’m not prepared to beat myself with a stick over it - no point in having kids if you don’t want them.

I’m really feeling sorry for my neighbour as she starts chemo on Thurs and was going for her wig fitting today. Her prognosis is also not very good and they have told her if the chemo doesn’t work they may not be able to do much more as they think the cancer has spread around her abdomen. She is also under pressure from her employers who are threatening to sack her if she takes a lot of time off with chemo and she has got it into her head that she will be able to work all the way though it. I’ve told her to get some employment advice on everything quickly. I haven’t slept all that well the past few nights as it brings things back.

Hi Cherub,

After reading your post I thought it may help your friend and neighbour if I posted you the link to BCC’s publication regarding the Employ Charter. If you need to know more about this please do phone the helpline here or Macmillan who will also be able to discuss this in more detail with you.

Employ Charter:

breastcancercare.org.uk/healthcare-professionals/publications/quick-order-list/*/changeTemplate/PublicationDisplay/publicationId/25/

Information for Employers:

breastcancercare.org.uk/healthcare-professionals/publications/quick-order-list/*/changeTemplate/PublicationDisplay/publicationId/26/

Link to Macmillan website:

macmillan.org.uk/Home.aspx

Hope you and your friend find this helpful.

Take care,
Jo, Facilitator

Thanks for that Jo - she has a friend who lives with her, but no family close by as her sister is at the other end of the country and is shuttling back and forwards when she can to support her. She was supposed to have at least 12 weeks off post surgery, but was under so much pressure from her boss she returned after 5 weeks. I really feel her employers are behaving outrageously and they are a huge nationwide company.

I have also told her to try the Maggies Centre as I believe they have a benefits and employment adviser who attends one day per week. The DWP told her if she loses her job she wouldn’t get benefits on account of the other salary coming into her house and she has lost a large amount of money on a holiday she had booked for later in the year, so things are very tight for her.

Hi Cherub & Everyone

Just wanted to add that I have managed to work all through my surgery and chemo so far - (just had cycle 3) - and I know everyone is different and some people just wouldnt be able to work - I thought you could share my positive experience with your neighbour. Having said this, I’m not saying its been easy for me, I’ve had some really terrible SE’s, just lucky to have an understanding employer who allows me to work flexi hours to suit how i’m feeling.

In comments as to the causes on BC, I am only 30, no children and have always led a healthy lifestyle. I used the gym at least 4 times a week, ate very healthily, and no family history of any cancers - yet at 30 I still have aggressive BC. I have looked at a few studies as to the causes of bc - and most are distorted one way or another to suit the company carrying out the research - so not many are woth the read. I will continue to be positive - but will not alter my lifestyle as I believe most of us are just plain unlucky in getting this dreadful diease.

Carly x

I’ve wondered the same thing about such numbers of people with cancer. Obviously better diagnosis etc is a factor as too is increased longevity but that doesn’t answer it fully.

One of the problems is that we can say we eat a healthy diet but is it. There are things that we now take as staple foods that perhaps weren’t in the past, or that were eaten in much smaller quantities before or were different (less hormones, chemicals, processed etc). We’ve become so blase as a society with the chemicals we use for cleaning, in cosmetics, shower gels etc

I think we tend to think that if everyone is doing it then it must be okay - well, that’s certainly how I used to think. Problem is with so many getting cancer then perhaps it really isn’t all okay.

do an internet search on chemicals and breast cancer and all sorts of new research is cropping up.

Elinda

Re your young friend cherub, I do think it’s absolutely disgraceful the way some of our employers treat us when we are having our treatment, we are bullied & pushed around from pillar to post just when we are at our most vulnerable. I don’t think my boss was particularly understanding towards me, but from this website I have learned that other women have been treated really badly, much worse than me. I have been so shocked by this, & can’t understand why employers treat us this way, or why they can’t understand that in many cases we’re not able to work, & faced with what may turn out to be a death sentence (though obviously we all hope for the best, we can’t help fearing the worst), their obsession with work becomes quite insignificant for most of us. I never thought about BC before my dx, but if I had, I would have expected loads of help & support, not constant pressure to get back to work. Coupled with this is all the form-filling that’s required to get the benefits we need & are entitled to, they’re all so complicated & again, we’re trying to cope with them when we’re at our lowest ebb.Many of us seem to be forced to return to work before we really feel ready because of pressure from our bosses, & financial pressures. I really wish there was some way to address this aspect of BC & indeed any cancer on a uniformly national level.

My neighbour is in a driving job, and as she has had major abdominal surgery she is not supposed to be driving at present on account of her muscles. They are making her turn up to sit in an office and do nothing and only paying her £79 a week for this, but her boss is making suggestions that it is OK for her to be driving and she is just making a big deal out of it. They just don’t seem to get the fact she is not supposed to be driving at all at the moment on account of having had a radical hysterectomy. It is a very male dominated environment with not many women around. I know someone else who worked for this company and he had major problems getting his pension when he was required to retire early on account of an injury.

The company owners are devoutly religious. Well I don’t think my neighbour is being treated in a very Christian way tbh. She is terrified of losing her job and I think it is having a really bad effect on her wellbeing as she is not focused on getting through treatment. As you say Divvy, it is absolutely disgraceful that some employers behave like this.