I was listening to Core TV news last week and it was reported that in Nigeria and most African nations, Cancer in Children is now trending and this is a cause for alarm among health professionals.
According to the news, in Lagos state Nigeria, the most common cancer in children is Brain tumor and kidney cancer.
Three decades back, cancer was very rare in children and teenagers but now it is a trending issue in child health care worldwide and the high rate of cancer among children and teenagers is beginning to alarm health professionals in Nigeria because Nigeria children are not left out.
This is the leading cause of death in children; it is estimated that in 2017, 15,270 children and adolescents between the ages of 0 to 19 years will be diagnosed with cancer and 1,790 of them will die of cancer in the United States alone.
According to statistics, the most common types of cancer diagnosed in children aged 0 to 14 years are cancer of the blood (leukemia), brain, tumors in the central nervous system, kidney tumors, skin cancer, thyroid cancer, germ cell tumors and soft tissue sarcomas.
What is cancer by the way? Cancer is a medical condition characterized by abnormal growth of cells in the body, if the case is left untreated and not stopped early, it can spread to other parts of the body and this will cause health problems and death if it is untreatable.
Symptoms of cancer includes vertigo, seizures, headaches, cough, hemoptysis, dyspnea, depression, suicidal thoughts, compression of the spinal cord, jaundice, pain, fractures, liver problems, tumors or growths, extreme fatigue and other uncomfortable symptoms.
There must be a reason or reasons behind this and this is what we will be looking at in this article; although it is widely speculated that the causes of cancer are not known, this is not true because many studies and researches have proved some causes of cancer.
According to medical studies, there are two main causes of cancer:
Table of Contents
- 1. Hereditary
- 2. Genetic mutation
- 3. Diet
- 4. Tobacco
- 5. Alcohol
- 6. Sedentary Lifestyle
- 7. Obesity
- 8. Infections
- 9. Radiation
- 10. Pollution
According to science, this is responsible for 5 to 10% of cancer cases worldwide; cancer can occur when faulty genes are inherited from ones parents. This is a very rare cause of cancer as very few people get cancer by this.
Even if one inherits faulty genes from their parents, there are preventive measures that can be taken that will correct and prevent them from coming down with cancer like good nutrition, regular intake of pure water, free from chemicals and germs, regular exercise, good lifestyle, use of essential oils, regular intake of fruits and vegetables, herbs and herbal teas, fruit juices, smoothies, always thinking positively and being happy, engaging in spiritual exercises and regularly going for medical checkup.
2. Genetic mutation
This is the major cause of cancer worldwide as 90-95% cases of cancer are caused by genetic mutation.
Genetic mutation is not caused by faulty genes inherited from ones parents but rather it is caused by mutations from the environment and negative impact of bad lifestyles.
All these have impact on the body cells and sometimes the DNA, this can make the cells to multiply out of control and cancer can occur as a result. Below are some things and lifestyles that can cause genetic mutation and make one come down with this deadly disease.
This is the main cause of genetic mutation because you are what you eat; foods are what builds our body and defend it from diseases.
Food is not only to make you feel full when hungry, it communicates with your DNA and your body uses quality nutrients from the food you eat to build, repair and defend itself; so feeding your child and teenager bad, empty calorie and junk food every time puts them at risk of cancer.
It is OK if you let them cheat occasionally, but making junks or nutrition less meals their main meal will do them no good, rather it will weaken their immune system and put them at risk of coming down with cancer.
Over processed foods stripped of fiber leads to colon cancers, processed foods high in salt leads to gastric cancers, consumption of public foods or always eating at a fast food joint can expose one to aflatoxin B1 contamination which causes liver cancer. Instant noodles and sugary foods feed cancer cells.
Fruits, vegetables and organic crops should be your children main meal; and let them eat more of organic fresh fruits and vegetables. Give them herbal teas regularly, include herbs when preparing their meals, and give them homemade smoothies and fruit juices.
Avoid processed foods, fruit juices and processed foods loaded with preservatives, artificial colours, artificial flavours, sweeteners and other food additives, taste enhancers, monosodium glutamate and other forms of sugar shouldn’t be given to kids as their main meal every day.
White flour stripped of all its nutrients, noodles, spaghetti and too much of red meat should also be avoided; there can only be taken occasionally and not to replace their main meals.
Red meat is a good source of protein when taken moderately, but when over taken it can lead to health problems including cancer, give your children more plant based proteins and teach them to drink lots of water daily, devoid of chemicals and germs.
Tobacco smoke is responsible for 90% of lung cancer in adults around the world. It is also responsible for cancers of the pancreas, esophagus, stomach, bladder, ovary, cervix, bowel, blood, kidney, liver, breast, larynx, pharynx, nose, mouth, neck and head.
As much as it affects adults, it can also affect children and teenagers when they inhale tobacco smoke; there are about 250 carcinogens (chemicals or substances that cause cancer) present in tobacco and these carcinogens are responsible for 5% of cancer deaths worldwide including infant cancer.
Once the smoke goes into the body, it damages the DNA and the key genes of the immune system that protect one from cancer. So smoking around a child or teenager; or making them inhale tobacco smoke can increase their risk of coming down with cancer.
To avoid this deadly disease in children, quit smoking as a parent, especially when around your kids; do not allow them to inhale tobacco smoke and teach them to walk away when people are smoking around them.
Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should quit smoking or avoid tobacco smoke because the child can get affected in the womb and through the breast milk contaminated with the carcinogens and chemicals present in tobacco.
Alcohol is another cancer causing agent as it causes cancer of the liver, mouth, throat, esophagus, breast, stomach, pancreas, colon, rectum and cancer of the digestive tract.
When alcohol is consumed, it enters the body and it is converted to acetaldehyde, a carcinogen that damages the DNA and prevents the cells from repairing the damage. It also makes cancer cells to grow uncontrollably, faster than normal cells.
Alcohol also reduces the level of folate in the body. Folate is a vitamin that helps our body cells to produce new DNA, it also produce reactive oxygen species that damages the DNA and cause premature aging.
It is good for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to avoid consumption of alcohol, cause it will affect the child in the womb and contaminate the breast milk. Children should not be given alcohol to drink and teenagers should be discouraged from smoking and drinking.
6. Sedentary Lifestyle
With the fear of kidnappers and the invention of video games and TV, children now spend most of their day indoors when they are not in school; even in school, they are made to sit down for long hours and when they come back home, they are glued to their video games or TV screens.
This is not good as it leads to excess body weight and weak immune system; it has negative impact on the endocrine and immune system.
Examples of sedentary behaviors are long hours of watching television or playing video games sitting or lying down, always sitting down especially at school, always lying down, not engaging in exercises, not having a chore to do at home, sports or hobby that keeps them active. Sedentary lifestyle has been linked to many types of cancer.
Help your kids pick a hobby that will make them active or engage them in sports, exercise or dance classes after school hours and during the weekends.
This is also a diet related issue as wrong, unhealthy, over processed and junk foods makes children obese and obesity causes many types of cancers and it is responsible for 14-20% of cancer rates worldwide.
Excessive body weight has strong links to many types of cancers in both children and adult. Obesity reduces immune functions and increases the risks of inflammation, it causes a misbalance in the levels of hormones in the body and disrupts metabolism in general.
If your child is overweight, help them to lose weight naturally and change their diet to healthy foods, fruits and vegetables; reduce junks, sweets, sugary foods and drinks, noodles and processed foods. Do not use pills or strict dieting as they harm the body and cause eating disorders.
Try and engage them in walking (not jogging) for one hour every day, let them eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, they should drink lots of water and engage in a water or fruit juice fast regularly.
Make this their lifestyle, they will lose weight and not gain it back and this will cut their risk of coming down with cancer by half.
Infections caused by viruses are responsible for 18% of cancer deaths worldwide and this includes children and teenagers; infections can also be caused by bacteria and parasites.
When these virus, bacteria and parasites enters the body; some of them insert their own genes into the host cells, making the cells to grow out of control.
Some of them directly affect the genes that control the growth of their own cells; all this weakens the immune system which is meant to protect one against cancer.
Viruses, bacteria and other parasites can enter the body through the food they eat, if it is prepared unhygienically; through bad and contaminated drinking water, eating always in a fast food joint, playing in a dirty environment and putting anything they see in their mouth.
Feed your children very healthy and balanced meals so that their immune system can be strengthened to fight any bacteria, virus, fungi or parasite that enters the body and teach them to avoid dirty foods and water.
Ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation are responsible for 10% of cancer cases worldwide; they affect children too and they mostly cause skin cancers.
Exposing children to ultraviolet radiation, exposure to radon gas, medical imaging, radiations from mobile phones and laptops and electric power transmission all raises the risks of one having cancer.
Do not live close to a telephone mast, do not let a child sleep close to phone or laptop, teenagers too should be discouraged from sleeping close to their electronic gadgets.
Exposure to certain chemicals and substances that can cause cancer (carcinogens) is also a risk factor for cancer. Carcinogens such as nitrosamines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, asbestos fibers, benzene, cobalt, nickel, crystalline silica etc. all cause cancer when children inhale them or ingest them for a length of time like few years.
Most of these chemicals are found in childcare products like baby creams, soaps, powder and wipes. This is why I love natural baby products; they contain none or less of these harmful chemicals.
Read the label before buying baby products to make sure they don’t contain harmful chemicals because long use of those harmful products can put your child at risk of coming down with cancer.
When the right things are done, the risk of cancer will be reduced or even prevented from happening in the first place. The above mention points can also cause cancer in Adults but in this article we are talking about cancer in children.