What if cancer, like so many chronic diseases, is an accumulation of little compromises?
Sometimes cancer has a big, blatant cause; radiation exposure for example. Other times the cause is unclear, and its inception, insidious. Without an obvious etiology, conventional oncology tends to default to badly behaving genes as the cause of malignancy.
Every day, we make choices that either empower our health our hasten its departure from us. We make little compromises about small matters that do not cause acute harm, but may cause a cumulative stress on the body.
For some, eating a few cookies every night has negligible health consequences, for others, it’s the fast track to diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.
Look deeper however: What is the sum total effect of those cookies on the mind, body, and emotions? Does every morsel conjure warm, fuzzy memories of childhood? Or does regret and self-loathing overshadow every sugary bite?
Can contentment be found with one cookie, or has the stress of the day lead to binge eating the entire bag? How does this little compromise affect that night’s sleep, the ability to wake rested, and dietary willpower going into the following day of food choices?
It is not just about the biochemistry of food, but our relationship to it, to ourselves, and all the decisions that brought that food (or processed, food-like item) to the plate. We metabolize experiences just as much as we do calories.
Lifestyle contributions may not be carcinogens. Sometimes they are subtle, exerting their weakening influence on the body day, after day, after day. For a person diagnosed lung cancer after 30 years of smoking, every cigarette was a little compromise.
Cancer may have a big, blatant environmental cause, but underlying most cancer diagnoses is the essential truth that cancer is a disease of lifestyle. To treat it may require heroic measures, but those treatments should not come at the expense of attending to lifestyle.