Dodging cancer

Published May 12, 2019, 12:05 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



“Madness is locked beneath. It goes into tissues, is swallowed by the cells

   The cells go mad. Cancer is their flag.

   Cancer is the growth of madness denied.”

— Norman Mailer (1923 – 2007), US author,

An American Dream, ch. 8 (1965)

Dr. Jose Pujalte Jr.
Dr. Jose Pujalte Jr.

We have heard many heroic stories on how the battle with cancer was fought, won, and more often, lost. But here’s a fight no one wants to begin anyway.  Like an extremists’ attack, cancer seems to detonate out of nowhere.  Governments have intelligence that methodically seeks out terrorists. In much the same way, we need intelligence too to root out the causes of cancer. We need facts that can save a life, which, as the cliche´ goes, may be your own.

Top Seven Reasons to get Cancer

  1. Genetic predisposition. What runs in families is NOT cancer but the predisposition to get it. There must be other environmental factors present for cancer to manifest. Supposing Mom had breast cancer and Dad had cancer of the colon, the children are therefore at a higher risk, that’s true. But having accepted the fact, there is now the responsibility of scheduling earlier-than-average checkups.
  1. Tobacco smoke. In the US, smoking causes 30% of cancer deaths. Even second-hand smoke causes cancer! Smoking not only causes lung cancer, it is also associated with cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus (food pipe), and even the liver, pancreas, and stomach.  Unrepentant smokers, of course, will tell you, “Cancer cures smoking.” And let’s agree that’s funny until they’re told they have cancer.
  1. Alcohol. We are talking about heavy drinking here which is more than two drinks a day for men or one drink a day for women. A “drink” is one 12-ounce bottle of beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or one 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Alcohol abuse can lead to cancer of the liver, mouth, throat, stomach, and esophagus.
  1. Carcinogenic chemicals. We don’t really need to be surprised that we inhale these every day in Metro Manila – diesel exhaust, for example. Other carcinogens are asbestos, benzene, and formaldehyde.
  1. Ultraviolet radiation. 90% of skin cancers can be blamed on ultraviolet B rays that damage DNA. Ultraviolet rays are of course the radiation from the sun’s rays. The earth has been increasingly unprotected because of the depleted ozone layer of the atmosphere that we have all destroyed with chemicals such as CFC (chlorofluorocarbon).
  2. Ionizing radiation. Again DNA damage which causes genetic mutation, hence your cancer. X-rays are the most likely culprits for producing this kind of radiation and it’s a good idea to get them only when necessary.
  1. Bad Diet, Carcinogenic Foods, and Free Radicals. An unhealthy diet high in fat tends to block out the healthy food that we ought to be eating. Animal fat, when oxidized in our bodies, produce free radicals. Now free radicals are highly damaging chemical compounds to DNA. Finally, carcinogenic foods abound. Unfortunately, these are the ones we relish — salted, pickled, and smoked foods.

Top 3 Ways to Prevent Cancer Now

  1. Stop tobacco use. This necessarily includes not only cigarette smokers but also cigar and pipe aficionados. Tobacco chewing is not safe either.
  1. Start a healthy diet. The focus is on eating 5 to 10 servings a day of fruits and vegetables. To actually be able to do this leaves little room for unhealthy foods particularly because these high-fiber, vitamin-rich foods give a lasting feeling of fullness.
  1. Exercise 30 minutes a day. Eating right and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce cancer risk up to 40%. Now for many people, 30 minutes of exercise is extreme and not doable. However, the idea is to rack up the minutes from housework and keeping physically active at work (taking stairs instead of elevators, walking to lunch, etc.).

Readers with internet access will enjoy visiting

The more we know about cancer, the less we can fear it.


Billboard. DVD Find of the Week: “Being There” starring Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine. Based on the novel of Jerzy Kosinski, this 1978 film was the great Peter Sellers’ last. Chance the Gardener was comical or profound, depending on who was listening. Because of our surreal Philippine politics, this is a must-see.

Fact/Factoid. “to flog a dead horse” is to attempt to revive a question already settled or worn thin, thereby wasting time and energy. From Brewer’s Concise Phrase & Fable

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