For many years, scientists and doctors have recognized a link between inflammation and cancer. It’s even reasonable to believe (although not certain) that chronic inflammation is a cause of cancer.
Some scientists think inflammation “provides both the key mutations and the proper environment to foster tumor growth.”1
Dr. Young S. Kim, program director in the Nutritional Science Research Group at the National Cancer Institute said, “Cancer is caused by many different processes and inflammation is one of them, and if you could inhibit that process it would be tremendously helpful.”2
Similarly, Scientific American reported that “genetic damage is the match that lights the fire [of cancer], and inflammation is the fuel that feeds it.”3
The inflammation connection has prompted a few scientists to check whether anti-inflammatory drugs can prevent or treat cancer.
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Evidence suggests that anti-inflammatory drugs do help control cancer. A group of scientists in Ireland found that women who took aspirin lowered their risk of breast cancer. The drug seemed to stop cancer’s progression to the lymph nodes. So these scientists concluded that the anti-inflammatory properties could remove the fuel that feeds cancer.4
But don’t drop everything to rush to the drug store just yet.
Aspirin has a number of detrimental side effects, including the possibility of developing ulcers, damaging your kidneys, and even boosting your risk of pancreatic cancer — which is ironic when cancer is what you’re trying to avoid.
But that’s not all…
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) — a category that includes aspirin — raise your heart attack risk for five years after you stop taking them, dramatically increase sudden death from a heart attack, and dramatically increase the risk of death from a gastric ulcer.
Even the American Heart Association has jumped into the fray with warnings…
Specifically, they now caution that heart attack survivors with a history of NSAID use faced a 59 percent higher risk of death from any cause in the year after their heart attack, and a 63 percent higher risk five years after.
Those are the stats for death from all causes. Homing in specifically on cardiovascular disease, survivors faced a 30 percent increased risk of having another heart attack or dying from coronary artery disease after one year and a 41 percent increased risk after five years.“
Meanwhile, most patients are never warned that the anti-inflammatory drug they’re about to take could dramatically boost their risk of dropping dead.
Consider this your warning! By the way, it applies to ALL anti-inflammatory drugs, including ibuprofen and the fancy ones available only by prescription.
Just as an aside, there’s a study that indicates frequent users of ibuprofen are less likely to get dementia. These drugs have real benefits — no question — but, tragically, they are too dangerous when used long term. They are safe only when used for temporary relief.
While fighting cancer with anti-inflammatories could be extremely beneficial to your health in principle, the evidence is clear that aspirin and other NSAIDs are not the safe way to go about it. You have much better options. . .
Spices, herbs, and a wide range of foods
help put out the fires
Many spices, herbs, and other foods have anti-inflammatory properties. Are you making use of them?
Curcumin, a compound derived from turmeric root, may be the first choice for a natural anti-inflammatory. The yellow spice native to Asia — you’re probably most familiar with it in curry dishes — is perhaps the most potent natural anti-inflammatory agent, as well as one of the safest and most widely studied.
It’s highly effective for pain relief, inhibiting inflammation to an even greater extent than some anti-inflammatory drugs. I don’t think curcumin will help you shake a headache, but used daily it will reduce overall, systemic inflammation in your body — making headaches and other chronic aches and pains diminish or even disappear over time. And unlike the drugs, it has the virtue of being safe for long-term use.
Besides its potential in fighting cancer, curcumin is also beneficial for arthritis, asthma, dementia, and cardiovascular diseases, among others.
Ginger root is another kitchen pantry herb that helps relieves pain, by way of its enzyme called zingibain. This enzyme has been shown to alleviate arthritis pain by reducing inflammation. Ginger contains many other anti-inflammatory compounds, and has been used in medicine for thousands of years.
Black pepper has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties. Besides that, it helps improve your body’s absorption of other foods and compounds such as curcumin, boswellia, and ginger.
Boswellia serrata, more commonly known as frankincense, has been used medicinally for more than 4,000 years in India to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and asthma. Our sister company, Green Valley Natural Solutions, offers a boswellia supplement I helped formulate myself. It’s called Triple Joint Relief – and also contains other valuable herbs to make it even more powerful
Cat’s claw is a plant native to the Amazon rainforest and other areas of Central and South America. Used medicinally for centuries, studies show it helps stimulate the immune system. It also boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
In addition, studies using cat’s claw to inhibit the spread of cancer have shown great promise, though the research is still in its early stages.
Rosemary contains two key ingredients, caffeic acid and rosemarinic acid, that are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents. There’s considerable evidence showing rosemary can at least slow the progression of some types of cancer.
Hops, which you probably think of only in connection with beer, contain compounds called humulones, which are antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. They are currently being studied for their anti-cancer properties. In early research, the acid was used to inhibit a skin tumor in a mouse.
Omega-3 fatty acids, most often found in seeds and seafood, are also anti-inflammatories. You can take them in supplement form, but if you choose to get your omega-3s from foods, it’s usually better to eat the whole seed than just the oil. Chia, hemp, and flax seeds are sources that can easily be incorporated into your diet.
Hundreds of other plants contain known anti-inflammatories and therefore have the potential to fight cancer. Check out these and other options before you resort to pharmaceutical drugs.
In my experience, they aren’t nearly as strong as, say, ibuprofen, but you can take them safely every day, you can take more than one type, and in most cases you can take just about as large a quantity as you want.
I take boswellia, fish oil, and curcumin every day, plus proteolytic enzymes like bromelain (an anti-inflammatory derived from pineapple). I still need a pain pill from time to time – but nothing like the bad old days. These natural “pain pills” have vastly reduced my need for drugs and increased my overall wellbeing more than I can say.
Another idea is to identify and eliminate the root causes of the “fire in your body.”
Stop inflammation from entering your body…
Inflammation can help your body heal from wounds and injuries. But if it never goes away, it will become its own health issue. And it has, for millions. We live in the midst of an epidemic of chronic inflammation that is closely associated with cancer, dementia, heart disease, arthritis and more.
While anti-inflammatory foods and supplements are wonderful, maybe it’s time to start avoiding the things known to induce inflammation.
Heavy metal contamination is at the root of much chronic inflammation. Mercury, aluminum and lead are major culprits. They sneak into your body through vaccines, cookware, and even the water you drink on a daily basis. And, of course, through mercury amalgam fillings in your teeth.
Other factors that can cause inflammation include stress, obesity, poor nutrition, sugar and other refined carbs, food additives, and common allergens such as wheat and dairy.
Limit chronic inflammation in your body by becoming more aware of your exposure to these and other causes and trying to reduce it. Long-term readers of this newsletter know that all the pro-inflammatory factors I mentioned in the last couple of paragraphs are closely connected to the diseases of aging.