What is Cancer?
The human body is a very intricate and complex design. Keeping it healthy is what we stride and hope for in order to live a longer life. Diseases and pathogens hurt our human body, which ultimately hurts our way of life. One of these diseases is cancer. Cancer is a very dangerous disease that threatens all human bodies. About 10 million people every year die from cancer, making it a leading cause of death. If cancer is this deadly, it’s important to learn about it and how you can get it.
Cancer starts and ends in the human cells. The disease heavily affects these cells and harms the body. In a healthy human body, human cells grow and then divide to form new cells, which is a process called mitosis and meiosis. In a body affected by cancer, however, old cells survive when they should die, and they keep dividing to create more unnecessary cells. These cells are called cancer cells, and they form together to create tumors. There are two different types of tumors: benign and malignant. Benign tumors mean the tumor cannot spread and when it is removed, it will probably not grow back. Benign tumors are easier to handle and sometimes don’t even need to be removed if they aren’t hurting the body. Malignant tumors, on the other hand, can spread to different parts of the body to form new tumors, making it harder to get rid of.
One deadly trait of cancer is that wherever there are cells, cancer can affect it. This makes virtually every part of the body vulnerable to the disease. Depending on the type of cancer, which usually is named in the location of the body it is in, it hurts the body in different ways. For example, lung cancer blocks off part of the lung which doesn’t allow you to inhale the amount of oxygen you need. Brain cancer means a tumor forms in the brain, which can hurt different parts of the brain serving different functions for the body. In these types of cancers and hundreds of others like liver cancer or throat cancer, the tumor is a solid object in the body. In blood cancer, more commonly called leukemia, the tumor is not in a solid state. Starting in the bone marrow, when abnormal cells start growing out of control, also called white blood cells, they interrupt the function of normal blood cells. There are then different types of blood cancers, but leukemia is the most common.
Learning about cancer is important, but understanding how it functions and your chances of getting it may be even more important to you. The main reason why most people get cancer is from genetics. A person’s parents, grandparents, and further ancestors may have had genes that make them more prone to cancer, which makes it more likely for them to also develop cancer compared to other people. There is no solution to avoid genetics, but a person might be tested for any cancer genes, which gives doctors a head start on their cancer therapy. However, one way people can try to avoid cancer is by limiting their exposure to radiation.
Radiation and Cancer
Radiation of high wavelengths has been proven to cause cancer and is widely accepted science. This type of radiation, called ionizing radiation, has enough energy to damage a person’s DNA. The radiation can ultimately disassemble the atoms in the body, which causes the DNA damage in the cells. A lot of side effects can arise from this happening, with a main one being cancer. There are different ways you can be exposed to ionizing radiation. Radon, x-rays and gamma rays are all sources of ionizing radiation harmful to the body. The most likely way to be exposed to gamma rays is from accidents at nuclear power plants or when atomic weapons are made, tested, or used. X-rays like CT scans and MRIs also give out high levels of radiation, but it is very unlikely that you will develop cancer from it. Lastly, radon is a type of radiation which very often gets overlooked for the wrong reasons. Radon, which can be found in your own home as a gas, can create harmful levels of radiation, which is why it’s important to check for it in your own home. The government doesn’t recognize radon as a serious health hazard in homes currently, despite the science. Checking for radon in your home is free and a major step towards lowering the risks for cancer. Another type of radiation is UV radiation from the sun and tanning beds. This can cause skin cancer in the body, and has a simple solution of just using sunscreen and/or not tanning frequently. A type of radiation which CANNOT cause cancer is 5G cell phone towers. The radiation these towers give out is non-ionizing radiation, the same type of radiation radios and microwaves give out. There has been absolutely no evidence of cell phone towers causing cancer, nor is it even possible for this to happen since this type of radiation does not ionize atoms.
Now, if you do get cancer, it doesn’t mean you will definitely die. Cancer is a very serious issue, but thanks to recent developments and new technologies, we know a lot more about preventing and treating it. However, there still is not one universal cure to cancer which removes it and ensures it doesn’t come back. It’s also important to remember that we all have cells which can potentially become cancerous from damaged DNA. Most of the time though, your body just kills the cell through programmed cell death, or apoptosis. There are different types of treatments based on the path you want to take. Some treatments may be to remove the entire tumor while others may be to help the body cope with the cancer. The most common procedure is surgery, which is usually used to remove as much of the tumor as possible, if not the entire thing. Chemotherapy is another option, which is the method of using drugs to kill cancer cells. And just like how it can cause cancer, radiation can also remove cancer by using high-powered energy beams to kill cancer cells. Many other treatments also exist, like bone marrow transplant or targeted drug therapy. Thousands of clinical trials are also taking place to find new ways to cure cancer.
The future holds many different ideas on the cure to cancer. The clinical trials taking place and new technologies scientists develop continue to help doctors in removing and preventing the development of cancer in patients. Gene therapy and gene editing are two ways which have been in clinical trials for many years. Gene therapy is the idea of guiding the body’s immune cells to directly attack the cancer cells. Gene editing is where we edit humans’ RNA to remove genes which can cause cancer. There’s a lot of research which goes into these ideas because scientists have to find new cells and genes which show potential to cause cancer. A very interesting idea is using and studying animal cells. Animals, like whales and elephants, have the same risk, or maybe even lower, than smaller animals like chihuahuas. This is odd because larger creatures tend to have bigger tumors and higher risks of dying to cancer. An animal like an elephant should be riddled with tumors across the body, but they are always cancer free. Studying elephants and other animals’ cells may give us an insight on medicine for humans.
The most important thing to remember is to seek the treatment needed if you think you might have cancer or have a genetic history of cancer. Cancer is a very deadly disease, which can turn a lot worse pretty quickly. The one good thing is that our knowledge of the disease increases every day. Maybe even one day a universal cure might be discovered. All we can do right now is educate ourselves and take all the precautions we can in the fight against cancer.