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Relationship between Pollution, Food, and Cancer

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Relationship between Pollution, Food, and Cancer

Introduction

Cancer is a group of disorders that are characterized by uncontrolled cell growth. There are over 100 types of specific cancers that are classified according to the cell affected. Cancer is characterized by tissue masses known as tumors except for leukemia that is characterized by abnormal functioning of blood cells. The growth can interfere with the various body systems including the circulatory, nervous, and the digestive system producing hormones that may impair body functioning. Malignant tumors can spread to other parts and leads to severe conditions which are difficult to treat (Hitchens). Statistics from the American Cancer Society ranks cancer as the second cause of death in the United States. Cancer accounts for nearly one in every four deaths in a hospital. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms that about 14 million cancer cases are diagnosed yearly and about 8.2 million people die of cancer every year. It is evident that cancer is considered as a leading cause of mortality in the world (Tuchman 92). The paper will describe the relationship between pollution and food with cancer. It will further discuss the cost of treatment of cancer.

            So many factors can cause cancer. First, the primary risk factor is genetic in which people can inherit cancerous genes from their parents. For example, a girl born to a mother with breast cancer can inherit the BRACA 1 and BRACE 2 genes that are responsible for breast cancer (Brody and Michels 2628). Other risk factors for cancer are related to environmental factors such as air pollution, exposure to carcinogenic compounds such as asbestos. Also, lifestyle can be a predisposing factor for the disease. For instance, people who take alcohol can have liver cancer while the smokers can suffer from lung cancer. Cancer is more linked to pollution and diet. The risk can be reduced by limiting alcohol use, smoking, using sunscreens, and maintaining healthy foods (Lepore). The race is also a risk factor for cancer in that the whites are likely to suffer from skin cancer than the black people. Cancer screening should be done regularly for early diagnosis makes the disease treatable. For example, every sexually active female should go for cervical PAP smear cervical cancer treatment. Again breast and colorectal cancers are curable when diagnosed at early stages. There are available vaccines for some diseases, for example, Human Papillomavirus vaccine is available, and it acts to prevent cervical, vulvar, oral, and vaginal cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine can also help in preventing liver cancer. Preventing cancer is easier than managing cancer (Mendoza). The cost of treating cancer by undergoing chemotherapy is high and many people die because they are not able to afford the finances. For instance, the estimation of the cancer treatment in the United States is about 263.8 billion dollars per year. The money the government spends for treatment is a lot, and it can be channeled to other development activities. These funds are likely to increase in the next 20 years because of the rising expected cancer cases. Lung, prostate, colon, liver, and stomach cancers are most common in men while cervical, uterine, and breast cancers are the most frequent (Landrigan, Schechter and Lipton 723).

Relationship between Pollution and Cancer

            Pollution refers to the contamination of the water, air, and the environment. Pollution has been closely associated with cancer especially the air we breathe and the water we take. Air pollution is the commonest because air taken in is likely to be contaminated with carcinogenic substances.  Outdoor air pollution is the most significant environmental cancer risk factor because so many people are exposed to it. Research from the Global Burden of Disease Project suggests that many deaths arise due to air pollution with 223,000 people dying from lung cancer every year. The risk of lung cancer associated with air pollution in the United States is little, but it should not be ignored (Brody and Michels).  The reason is that there are strategies set aside by the government to reduce air pollution and make the environment clean for the citizens. However, this is not the case with many countries in the world, and that high level of air pollution may result in significant health hazards. There are various air pollutants in the outdoor environment, and they include; transportation-related pollution, industrial wastes, agricultural emissions, power generation, domestic cooking and particulate matter. Thus, it is important to classify outdoor pollution as a risk to cancer (Landrigan, Schechter and Lipton 725). Because many people are exposed to the pollutants, it is necessary to develop policies aimed at reducing the exposure to the pollution.

 The vehicles release poisonous gases like the carbon monoxide when the fuel burns and this compound is discharged into the environment. Many pedestrians and motorists inhale this gas that has been associated with lung cancer (Selzer). Again, the industrial and agricultural factories release toxic gaseous wastes into the air that can be directly breathed in by people causing detrimental health effects including mutation of the cells that can result in cancer. Besides, a common air pollutant is smoke from tobacco smokers. Studies reveal that nearly all active smokers die of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. On the other hand, non-smokers who are passive smokers have reported death from lung cancer. The air around residential areas is no longer safe, and high exposure to the polluted air can cause cancer as a result of cell mutation (Brody and Michels).

            Moreover, water pollution has been associated with cancer. The drinking water can possess many toxic materials that can be carcinogenic. A long time ago people died from cholera and parasitic water-borne diseases, but in the recent years, water is being contaminated with industrial wastes that can be cancerous. The municipalities are now engaged in activities of purifying water that flows at homes so as to keep the population healthy (Gawande 646). Despite the local effort, there is also the need for the individual to ensure that they are taking safe water. In the United States, there are already build old water distribution and treatment systems that cannot be able to handle the modern water contaminants. Due to the demanding population increase, it becomes an issue to install treatment plants and thus water pollution is becoming significant in causing cancer and other diseases. There are over 75,000 chemicals added to drinking water daily.  Examples of compounds that can be cancer-causing found in water may include lead, chlorine, aluminum, and arsenic. These compounds can come from industries, homes, and the agricultural farms. Small doses in drinking water can accumulate and cause the cells to mutate and cause cancer especially the stomach and colon cancer (Landrigan, Schechter and Lipton 727). To avoid water contamination, purification of water should be done by use of carbon filters with ultraviolet light so as to ensure the carcinogenic materials are removed.

 To treat cancer caused by air and water pollution involves minimizing the toxic, carcinogenic components in the body. The home water systems should be free from cancer-causing components. People should be educated on the need to avoid the pollutants, for instance, to keep off from motor vehicle wastes and industrial smoke. Moreover, the factories should be restricted to filter and purify their wastes before releasing them to the environment (Lepore). Intake of contaminated water weakens the immune system that makes it susceptible to diseases including the cancer cells. A suppressed immune cannot be able to fight cancerous cells, and thus the progression of the disease becomes faster and may quickly cause death. Water and air pollution are associated with cancer, and the inhalation and ingestion of the pollutants are an increasing public health concern (Selzer). Despite the national government working to minimize the cases of the pollution, decision made to choose healthy lives for an individual and the family is the primary effort to reduce the cancer cases.

The Relationship between Cancer and Food/Diet

 Cancer has been reported to be caused by so many factors such as the diet of the individual. Many studies have proved that some dietary foods and components are capable of reducing or increasing cancer risks. For example, intake of alcohol is a known cause of oral, liver, and colon cancer. The danger of developing the cancer increases with the consumption of the alcohol. Alcoholics often die from liver cancer because of the consumption of the ethanol component in the drink. It accumulates in the body and with a long history of drunkenness; it may cause mutations of the cells making them cancerous. On the contrary, red wine that contains small amounts of alcohol has been suspected to reduce cancer risk especially stomach cancer (Bordo). Another food compound is the intake of antioxidants which are compounds used to block the activity of free radicals that may transform cells to become cancerous. Some antioxidants have been thought to increase the risk for cancer. However, some exogenous antioxidants have shown to confer protection against cancer caused by free radicals in laboratory animals. There is no evidence in humans that antioxidants can reduce the risk of cancer.

            Moreover, the artificial sweeteners such as neotame, cyclamate, and acesulfame potassium can result in the damage of body cells, transform them and make them cancerous. People are encouraged to use natural food additives that do not have any added compound in them. Besides, Calcium is an essential dietary mineral that can be obtained from either food or dietary supplements. Studies suggest that higher intakes of calcium have shown reduced risk of colorectal cancer. The relationship between calcium with breast and ovarian cancers is still unclear. On the other hand, some studies have associated high calcium intake with prostate cancer. Diet of charred meat contains HCA and PAH chemicals that are formed when pork, beef, fish, and chicken meat is cooked under high temperatures. The exposure to these chemicals has been associated with cancer in human and other animals especially the stomach and colon cancers. There is the need to avoid roasted meat or blackened meat as this would be a risk factor for cancer. Moreover, cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolate chemicals that have been associated with anticancer effects.  The studies have been carried out using laboratory animals, and the anticancer effects are still under study for human beings (Brody and Michels).

            Furthermore, fluoride is an essential dietary mineral that has been for a long time being used to prevent tooth decay. The element commonly found in fluorinated water has been thought to reduce oral and esophagus cancer risks. It is advisable that people should take a little fluoride in the drinking water because this is an essential element that protects against cancer. Garlic is also another food additive whose consumption has been linked with the reduction ability of the development of gastrointestinal tract cancers such as colon and rectum cancers (Hitchens). For a long time, people have been taking tea that contains the polyphenol especially the catechins that act as antioxidants. However, many studies to investigate the relationship between tea and cancer have been inconclusive with few clinical trials suggestive of reducing the risk of cancer.  Lastly, Vitamin D that is synthesized by the body under exposure to sunlight is an important compound that helps the phosphorous and calcium to make health and healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D can also be obtained from dietary foods. A high intake of vitamin D results in high level of serum vitamin D, and this offers protection against colorectal cancer (Bordo).

 Foods and dietary supplements can function either in increasing the risk to cancer or reducing the risk. Many people are not aware of the foods that cause the effects in the body, and they just feed on any diet without caring what impact it might have on their body systems. Others are aware of the consequences of intake of some foods especially alcohol, but they live in ignorance. They realize the detrimental effects of a long time when the element has already caused irreversible cell transformation that can be cancerous. Therefore, the government through the public health department should organize for community-based programs aimed at creating awareness to the public about cancer and the need to observe proper and recommended diet (Hitchens). If people keep their daily food intake and concentrate on healthy foods, they can reduce the cancer incidences in the world.

Cost of Cancer Treatment

            Cancer can be prevented and easily managed if it is diagnosed at early stages before it progresses to infiltrate vital body organs. Battling with cancer is stressful and can consume a lot of resources (Mendoza). The finances can be consumed in medical costs and travel expenses. Many countries lack specialized cancer care and treatment centers thus the patients are made to travel abroad to seek medical attention. Many foreign treatment centers do not accept health insurance covers from their local homes, a factor that makes the cost of therapy to be very high. Also, the transport expenses of the patients and their relatives are much. The overall cancer treatment and the financial implication are high, a condition that makes the affected to lose hope and die due to lack of chemotherapy and radiotherapy (Gould). Some clients over delay as they try to raise funds for their treatment and other forego the treatment due to the medical expenses. The treatment bills escalate very quickly and in most cases the insurance covers may not be able to cater for all the treatment costs forcing patients to absorb some cash from their pockets. Despite the high costs f treatment, the government has ensured that there are many cancer centers equipped with necessary machines so as to lessen the financial implications to the clients. It has also ensured that there are several available mechanisms to help the client meet the costs of cancer treatment (Tuchman).

            First, there are available insurance covers for the cancer patients. The last thing a hospital can do to a client is to help them through the treatment and present to them a medical bill they cannot afford. Before beginning the treatment, the patients should be informed about the cost and be asked to review their insurance policies so as to avoid unnecessary surprises (Selzer). Patient advocates should be made available to make the patients understand their coverage and the expected potential medical expenses that should come from their pockets. There is a risk of delaying cancer treatment and where delays are foreseen due to lack of therapy finances, the patients through the patient advocate should make prior arrangements on how to settle the bill after their treatment. Delays can result in death. Travel expenses are often much mainly because cancer patients travel outside their countries to seek for specialized hospitals. The cost for air flights, food, and accommodation is high, and this may even increase if a family member accompanies the cancer patient. Some destination cancer centers offer housing and travel arrangements for their patients. Some also offer meals which act as a way of cutting the cost of treatment (Lepore). 

 It is necessary for the patient to stay informed on the treatment cost of therapy that allows them to make the necessary arrangement for the payment. They should also be aware of the medical assistance programs available that help qualified patients manage their financial issues.  The patients should also be assisted where possible to negotiate the treatment costs before starting the chemotherapy or the surgery (Brody and Michels). Being informed about the available opportunities and the alternatives to treatment is also helpful in making them make decisions related to their treatment. The plan depends on the stage of cancer, and the approach is different. The client should be explained on the necessary procedures to be taken following all the medical ethics. Treatment should not be financed based. For instance, if the cancer is at early stages, the patient should not be exposed to surgery unless there is a risk of metastasis (Lepore). The doctors should act in the best interest of the patient.

Conclusion

 Cancer as a disease has been extensively studied, and clinical trials were done using laboratory animals to explain some conditions associated with it. For example, to determine its several cause air and water pollutants have been linked to cancer. Moreover, intake of some goods and dietary compounds has been suggested to increase the risk of cancer such as consumption of charred meat. Other nutritional elements such as fluoride reduce the risk of cancer. The association of pollutants and foods with cancer should be explained to the people so as to increase the cancer awareness and be a step towards preventing cancer. Treatment of cancer is expensive particularly the chemotherapy and surgical procedures the patients get involved in. Also, the traveling expenses are much, and the client might not be able to afford it. Thus, the medical insurance covers are made available even for the patient suffering from life-threatening illnesses such as cancer. Moreover, some centers offer accommodation and meals for their patients as a mode of reducing their treatment costs. It is evident that the patient should be informed before the treatment to avoid financial surprises.

 

Works Cited

 

 

 

Brody, Julia Green and Karen B. Michels. "Environmental pollutants, diet, physical activity, body size, and breast cancer." Cancer 109.512 (2007): 2627-2634.

Gawande, Atul. "Naked." The New England Journal of Medicine (2005): 645-648.

Gould, Stephen Jay. "The Tragedy of AIDS." The New York Review of Books 19 January 1989. <http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1989/01/19/the-tragedy-of-aids/>.

Hitchens, Christopher. "Topic of Cancer." Vanity Fair. 18 August 2010. <http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2010/09/hitchens-201009>.

Landrigan, Philip J, et al. "Environmental pollutants and disease in American children: estimates of morbidity, mortality, and costs for lead poisoning, asthma, cancer, and developmental disabilities." Environmental Health Perspective 110.7 (2002): 721-728.

Lepore, Jill. "It's Spreading." The New Yorker. 1 June 2009. <http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/06/01/its-spreading>.
Mendoza, Martha. "Between a Woman and Her Doctor." National Magazine Awards finalist. 2 April 2004. <http://www.msmagazine.com/summer2004/womanandherdoctor.asp>.

Selzer, Richard. "The Masked Marvel's Last Toehold." Esquire magazine. Vol. 1. 72. 10 April 1979. <http://www.oocities.org/wawli/jmk10.html>.

Tuchman, Barbara W. "This Is the End of the World": The Black Death." The Calamitous 14th Century (2011): 92-125.

 

Research Paper:

Number of pages

9

Urgency

5 days

Academic level

College 4th year

Subject area

Medicine and Healthcare

Style

MLA

Number of sources

8

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