FIVE Causes of Chronic Inflammation that may Increase Cancer Risk
We all know that chronic inflammation is not good for us, but did you know that it can also be tied to the development of cancer?
I had learned that chronic inflammation could be harmful to our bodies back in Pharmacy School, but I wanted to delve deeper into what exactly was chronic inflammation, what caused it and how was this different from acute inflammation?
So, here’s what I found…
Chronic inflammation is a long-term inflammation that can last from weeks to months. On the other hand, acute inflammation is a short-term process usually caused by tissue injury, and can appear in minutes to hours. It is usually accompanied by pain, swelling, heat and stiffness!
Chronic inflammation is often “invisible” and doesn’t show telltale signs the way acute inflammation does.
Over time, chronic inflammation can cause damage to the DNA in our body’s cells, and affect the way cells grow and divide… this is what may lead to the growth of tumors and cancer. 😒
Inflammatory cells help to create a tumor microenvironment which allow abnormal cells to proliferate and survive. Tumor cells may be able to do this by enlisting some of the signaling molecules of the body’s immune system, to help them invade, migrate and metastasize.
Chronic inflammation has a number of culprits…
1) Infections that don’t go away. Infections are tied to 20% of cancers worldwide. Some infections can trigger inflammation that causes changes to surrounding cells in the body. This can lead to cancer over time. For example, some stomach cancers are linked to an infection with the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria.
2) Abnormal immune response. Autoimmune disorders like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease can cause chronic inflammation in the gut and increase the risk for colon cancer.
3) Diet. High consumption of saturated fat, processed foods and meats, or alcohol can contribute to chronic inflammation and raise the risk for certain cancers such as gastrointestinal cancers. Acid reflux, which is often related to diet, can damage throat tissue and lead to esophageal cancer.
4) Obesity. The formation of new fat tissue spurs the development of new blood vessels. That can encourage chronic inflammation and lead to a higher cancer risk.
5) Lifestyle factors, such as sleep quality and stress management, can also contribute to chronic inflammation.
One way to measure inflammation levels in the body is to use a test called CRP, or C-Reactive Protein. CRP is a protein made by your liver that is sent into your bloodstream in response to inflammation.
This is a non-specific test though, and only tells the doctor that you have inflammation in the body, not necessarily what’s causing the inflammation. That usually requires a deeper dive…
Have you ever had a CRP test done? If you have had a CRP done in the past which was high, hopefully this list will give you an idea of what might be causing it!
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