Cancer: Treating Illness by Generating Health
Readers of my Empowered Patient blog may recall my straightforward explanation for the cause of cancer—carcinogens. Whether the culprits are chemicals like glyphosate, non-native electromagnetic fields like radiofrequency radiation, or lifestyle behaviors like smoking, the initiation of the cancer process is an epigenetic damaging of cells creating a “wound that does not heal.”
In this paradigm, cancer formation is the planting of a seed caused by unmitigated exposure to carcinogens. Seldom discussed are all the contributing factors—known as proximate causes—that inhibit healing of that initial wound. These proximate causes may not be potent enough to transform a precancerous cell into a malignant one, but they are the soil in which that cancer seed roots itself and grows unchecked.
Take stress, for example, the subject of my book “Cancer, Stress & Mindset.” After publication, readers and interviewers inquired whether I thought stress is a cause of cancer. I did not explicitly make this claim in the book, opting to present the salient research and let the reader decide. My opinion is that chronic stress is a potent proximate cause of cancer, strongly promoting cancer growth that was already instigated by other means.
This does not mean the damaging influence of stress should be ignored simply because it is not the root cause of cancer. It’s helpful if a root cause can be addressed, but when it cannot, what’s left are the proximate causes feeding cancer growth. Sometimes contributing factors may be the only levers we can pull.
When carcinogenic exposure is severe (a stroll through Fukushima) or prolonged (decades of cigarette smoking), it drives cancer initiation and progression independent of the terrain of proximate causes. In other instances, the seed that results in cancer would not become a fulminant illness without contribution from proximate causes such as diet and lifestyle factors.
Consider the fact that some malignant tumors can persist for years without growth or metastasis—a stalemate between cancer cells and the vitality of the patient. Robust immune and detoxification systems, optimized nutrition, and stress mitigation are all factors shaping that vitality. In other cases, the body can overcome cancer completely to achieve a clean scan without conventional oncology treatment. This is called “spontaneous remission.”
As a cancer patient and holistic clinician invested in an integrative, terrain-based approach to healing cancer, it is disheartening for me to hear the conventional medical assertion that once someone is diagnosed with cancer, that “the cat is out of the bag” so working with lifestyle factors is futile. This belief disregards the innate healing capacity of the body. We should be as invested in studying health as much as disease, addressing proximate causes as much as treating root causes.
At its genesis, cancer is an epigenetic disease of carcinogenic exposure. In its full expression, cancer is a condition of proximate causes. Whether it’s a junk food addiction or overwhelming stress, a proximate cause won’t come up at the typical oncology appointment. These are not matters easily addressed in a brief consultation focused on treating disease. But if we broaden our scope to empowering health, suddenly these factors become critical inroads to comprehensive recovery.