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Without treatment, a cancer can grow and destroy adjacent tissues. Cancer cells can also break away, travel in the blood or lymph and, unless destroyed by immune cells or by medical treatment, cause growths elsewhere ('secondaries' or metastases) that cause further damage. Eventually it can be fatal (unless it's so slow growing that a person dies of something else). The good news is that improvements in treatment mean that increasing numbers of people are living as cancer survivors.

General anti-cancer measures

. Ginger and turmeric supply helpful antioxidants: curcumin in turmeric is thought to have tumour-suppressing properties.

. Beans contain protease inhibitors which may make it harder for cancer cells to invade nearby tissue.

. Beans and certain other foods, such as root vegetables and whole grains contain plant oestrogens. Japanese women whose traditional diet is rich in plant oestrogens have a low risk of breast cancer. It's possible, though not proven, that dietary plant oestrogens help prevent oestrogen-sensitive cancer both in premenopausal women and in overweight post-menopausal women - as they have relatively high oestrogen levels for their stage of life. It's also possible that in women with oestrogen-sensitive cancer, dietary plant oestrogens help to slow its growth, and prevent its spread. However,until more is known about this, it's wise for women who have a personal or family history of such a cancer notto 'overdose' on plant oestrogens. This means not drinking litres of soybean milk each day, or taking a concentrated-soy supplement, though a diet naturally rich in plant hormones is considered safe.

Be alcohol-aware - Keep within recommended alcohol limits. (However, it's possible that antioxidants called catechins in wine help to prevent some cancers.)

Ensure enough exposure to light and darkness - Bathe in bright outdoor daylight for half an hour a day (without burning). This helps your hypothalamus to balance your hormone levels. It also boosts immunity by lifting your spirits (partly because it boosts serotonin), and it triggers vitamin D production, which is one reason why it's thought to help prevent cancer of the breast, ovaries, womb or cervix. (This also raises the possibility that it might aid treatment.) In winter in very northerly or southerly latitudes, consider using a light visor or box each day.

Getting enough bright light also enables your body to make serotonin and store it. If you get enough sleep in the dark, your body uses stored serotonin to make melatonin, a potent antioxidant that may help to prevent cancer. Boost melatonin production further by encouraging a good sleep-wake cycle - sleep in the dark at night, stay awake in the light by day, and get plenty of bright light, especially in the morning.

Supplements for cancer

There is some evidence that supplements of vitamins A and E or selenium may help to prevent certain cancers but the evidence isn't good enough to warrant a medical recommendation. If you do take supplements, avoid high doses. Also, avoid beta-carotene if you are a smoker, as studies suggest it encourages lung cancer and suppresses the production of certain of the body's natural antioxidants.

Need to see a doctor?

Always report any unexplained or worsening symptoms early, because the smaller a cancer is when it's first treated, the better.

Medical Conditions

Gynae cancers
Oestrogen dominance
Oestrogen deficiency
Period pain
Mid cycle pain
Heavy periods
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Ovary cancer
Ovarian Cysts
Cervix cancer

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