World Cancer Day: Cancer cells are like drivers using unapproved roads!
“Those with a vision are made to struggle; though we have eyes, we do not see. Keep up the struggles! Those were the words from the former head of administration at the Ministry of Health in a mail sent to me after successfully presenting my proposal for father’s day to become a national prostate day of awareness. This proposal was submitted based on a directive from the then office of the president. This proposal was only a form of preventative medicine but others read diverse meanings into it. The implementation stalled as a result of controversies.
“Those with a vision are made to struggle; though we have eyes, we do not see. Keep up the struggles! Those were the words from the former head of administration at the Ministry of Health in a mail sent to me after successfully presenting my proposal for father’s day to become a national prostate day of awareness.
This proposal was submitted based on a directive from the then office of the president. This proposal was only a form of preventative medicine but others read diverse meanings into it. The implementation stalled as a result of controversies.
I later realized that Changing the healthcare system was quite challenging and so I decided to focus my research on patients. Late in my career, I was blessed to get funding for my research and be recognized through multiple awards. However, after some time, I realized that it is not about the awards or grant funding, it is about changing lives and making a difference. Like said in the United States, ‘’I don’t want to sit in the Ivory Tower thinking I’m making a difference with the funding, publications and award’’. Says prof. .Odedina.
If I affect one person’s life through research, I have achieved my career goal. To make a difference in the world and fulfill what some people refer to “as my calling” I decided to focus on a disease that affects Black men in and that disease is prostate cancer.
Therefore, I decided to focus my research on Black men. It was a no brainer because it was a chance to do meaningful research that will increase their life expectancy and make a difference in their quality of life. I made the decision in to fight prostate cancer for Black men and that for me was the turning point.
Cancer: why did I get it?
So my mentor; Dr. Geo Espinoza discussed this with me…Think of your cells as people driving to work. Imagine its rush hour, bumper to bumper traffic just like the Xmas time (Did your blood pressure just go up one level?) I know when I’m stuck in traffic; all I want is to get to my clinic or college so I can start solving problems. But now there’s this pretty annoying obstacle in the way. Maybe it’s traffic, maybe construction, maybe an accident on the motorway.
The bottom line is, cars are not moving, and people (myself included) are starting to feel the rage. Most of the drivers can keep it under control. They have to; otherwise we’d be killing each other and nobody would ever get any work done. They do their deep breathing behind the wheel, or they scream behind closed windows just to “let it out.”
But let’s say traffic gets really bad. Somebody starts honking. The worst is the Trotro drivers using unapproved route. This is plain irritating. Someone cuts you off. You honk at them because it’s what everyone else is doing. Stress is rising. Now someone is following you like it’s their job. You can see in your rear-view mirror they’re getting ticked off. You stop suddenly and you spill your tea all over yourself. The guy behind you rear-ends you. Now you’re furious, he’s furious, and you pull over to have a shouting match. You know how it goes. Nobody ever wins.
Think of Road Rage as Inflammation, Accidents as Cancer.
Where am I going with all this? Well, this is basically how prostate cancer starts. The cells in your body are just trying to do their job, but they’re in an environment that ticks them off and brings out their worst side. Little by little, the inflammation turns these healthy cells sour. Most cells can take a little damage; they repair themselves or respectfully self-destruct. But some get to a point where the damage can’t be “undone.” Dr. Espinoza put it this way “Just like a calm and collected driver can become a road-raging maniac who is going to get into an accident, a healthy cell can become a cancer cell if it spends too much time in the wrong environment”.
OK, but what am I trying to say?
Inflammation is a leading cause of cancer. What causes inflammation? Primarily infection, but also an unhealthy diet, bad lifestyle choices, poor movement, chronic stress, lack of sleep. These are things that you can choose to do well every day, and by doing that, reduce your risk of prostate cancer or improve your prognosis.
Inflammation is our own version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: When it works the way it’s supposed to – when you skin your knee or get a paper cut on your finger, for instance – inflammation is what protects your body from bacteria and germs that find their way through the open wound. The immune system kicks in; zealous home soldiers spray chemicals on the intruders, puncture their armor, or even eat them whole. You notice some redness, a little heat, maybe some swelling or even a bruise, and you know that your body is healing. There’s a scab, new skin covering the hole or tear, and all is well. The inflammation goes away…says Janet Farrar Worthington an award-winning science writer.
But what if it doesn’t go away? Here’s where the dark side of Dr. Jekyll, his alter ego Mr. Hyde, starts to show itself. Chronic inflammation is bad.
“The story of inflammation is absolutely the heart of what causes prostate cancer,” says oncologist Jonathan Simons, M.D., CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
“Inflammation lowers your defenses,” and changes the DNA. Going back to the angry cowboy at our campfire scene:
What should you do to prevent road rage (and prostate cancer)?
My first advice would be to avoid road anger. But the real “moral of the story” is that the choices you make every day have a big effect on what’s going on inside your cells.
To reduce your risk of prostate cancer, as well as other male health problems, it’s important to create a “microenvironment” that is hostile to cancer cells. You can do this by:
i.Loading up on fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens.
ii.Getting in 30 minutes of vigorous physical exercise daily
iv.Cutting out refined sugar and processed foods. (If you can’t pronounce one of the ingredients, throw it out. If sugar is one of the ingredients, throw it out.)
v.Managing stress and getting deep, restful sleep every night.
Its world cancer day today….spread the news