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How is inflammation related to cancer?

Cancer is closely associated with inflammation

Even though medical experts have suspected for decades that inflammation could be related to cancer, it is only in recent years that researchers have found evidence linking chronic inflammation with cancer.

But before we explain the role of inflammation in cancer, we would like to explain what inflammation really is. Although inflammation is now linked to cancer, it’s a perfectly natural process for the human body.

Simply put, an inflammatory response is triggered whenever there is tissue damage. The tissue damage can be due to a physical injury, infection, toxin exposure, insufficient blood supply to an organ, or trauma. Whenever there is tissue damage, the immune system releases white blood cells and chemicals to fight it off.

Therefore, “good inflammation” is a perfectly normal self-correcting process performed by the immune system to deal with various bacteria, viruses, and microbes that the body is exposed to on a day-to-day basis.

Therefore, “good inflammation” is a perfectly normal self-correcting process performed by the immune system to deal with various bacteria, viruses, and microbes that the body is exposed to on a day-to-day basis.

Just as there is good inflammation, there is also something called a bad inflammation. When inflammation persists without any infection or injury, it is called bad inflammation. In such cases, inflammation can cause damage to healthy tissues, increasing the probability of leading to cancer.

It was way back in 1863 that a German scientist and physician called Rudolf Virchow observed that cancer often developed at the sites of chronic inflammation. Since then, a number of medical experts have also felt that inflammation and cancer could be linked.

But it was only in recent years that medical researchers could provide evidence to establish that chronic inflammation can indeed be a cause of cancer. One may wonder why it took scientists so long to prove it.

There are two reasons for it. Firstly, inflammation, on its own, is a very healthy and natural process for the body to perform. Therefore, it was felt that it was only natural for inflammation to occur in a body.

Secondly, often chronic inflammation does not cause any symptoms. As a result, even if someone is suffering from it, the chances are that he/she may not be even aware of it. That said, there are certain types of chronic inflammation, which do have outward symptoms, but often people tend not to take it very seriously, without realizing that it can even cause cancer.

How does chronic inflammation cause cancer?

The process by which chronic inflammation causes cancer is a rather complex one. In many cases, chronic inflammation damages the DNA of a person, ultimately resulting in cancer. Then, there are cases wherein chronic inflammation produces a certain kind of molecule called cytokines, which increases the growth of blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients for the tumour.

Although research has established a connection between inflammation and cancer, a lot of work is still happening to decipher this link further. For example, it is still not clearly known what causes chronic inflammation.

At times, it is caused by infections that don’t heal. It can even be a result of abnormal immune reactions to normal tissues. Experts think that obesity can also result in chronic inflammation. It is seen that inflammatory diseases like colitis, pancreatitis, and hepatitis increase the risk of cancer in colon, pancreases, and liver, respectively.

Besides, a chronic infection caused by chronic inflammation can also result in cancer. For example, a chronic case of H. Pylori can cause stomach cancer and Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can cause liver cancer. Even HIV increases the risk of some very rare cancers like Kaposi sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and invasive cervical cancer.

In many cases, environmental factors also result in chronic inflammation, which eventually causes cancer. For example, exposure to asbestos has been known to cause mesothelioma.

Reducing the risk of inflammation-related cancers

It has been proven that sedentary lifestyle and bad eating habits are two of the leading causes of inflammation. Therefore, improving your lifestyle and exercising regularly can go a long way in reducing the probability of getting cancer. Having a healthier diet can also play a role in preventing obesity. Medical experts recommend a plant-based diet and reducing the intake of red meat to improve overall health.

Avoiding smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol can also improve the health of an individual. When it comes to lifestyle, often, people start implementing radical changes overnight, which is not sustainable in the long run.

It is always advisable to take one step at a time. For example, if you are not into exercising at all, it will be tough for you to go on a long run. Therefore, it is better to get into the habit of long walks in such cases and then start running gradually.

Similarly, if your diet is predominantly meat-based, it would be near impossible to switch to a plant-based diet overnight. It would be best to cut down the consumption of meat slowly. Then, staying in a cleaner and pollution-free environment can also help in reducing inflammation.

If you are having a persistent infection, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, fatigue, or any other symptom, which is not explainable, then it’s a good idea to visit a doctor.

Typically, in such cases, a doctor would like to analyse what the signs of inflammation are. He/she may conduct a physical examination and can also recommend going for a few medical tests to ascertain the cause of the disorder and take appropriate action.

Remember that an inflammation in colon, bladder, breast, prostrate, or other body parts may or may not result in cancer. However, it is extremely important to go to a doctor and follow the expert’s advice.

Contact Denvax’s medical experts to learn how to prevent inflammation and say no to cancer

At Denvax, our co-founder, Dr. Sharmin Yaqin, is an expert in preventive oncology. Dr. Yaqin has been working to raise awareness about cancer and related issues, especially chronic inflammation.

Denvax is one of the leading providers of immunotherapy for cancer treatment. At Denvax, we use a patient’s own immune cells (also known as dendritic cells) to provide immunotherapy to reduce the progression of cancer and also to cure it permanently.

Denvax has centres in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, and Lucknow, where it provides cancer treatment to a number of patients.