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Gynae Cancers - Types, Symptoms, Causes and Prevention of Gynae Cancers

Cancer results from damage to one or more of a cell's genes, making it prone to multiply in an uncontrolled way and form a malignant growth or 'cancer'. Depending on the gene damaged, a cell may be prevented from dying at its allotted time (as normal cells do). Genetic damage might also make cancer cells invisible to the immune system; encourage the development of the new blood vessels needed to nourish any cancer larger than a peppercorn or encourage cancer cells to spread via the bloodstream.

What do yourself for cancer

There's some evidence that the following natural treatments may help to prevent certain cancers or even to slow their growth, make them shrink, or prevent relapses, though they are not a cure as such. Even for people with advanced cancer, natural treatments occasionally prolong life by a short but precious time and improve its quality. They may help to prevent recurrence of cancer in survivors or the growth of new cancers. These treatments won't hurt and may make you feel better in yourself, so it's well worth using them alongside medical treatment.

General anti-cancer measures

Ensure that you have any screening recommended for your age or circumstances.

Reduce any controllable risk factors (see entry for each cancer).

. Tomatoes have more of a potent red carotene-like pigment called Iycopene than any other vegetable, especially when cooked in olive oil or other fat.

. Powerful anti-cancer substances, such as glucosinolates, in cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, spring greens), may help to kill genetically damaged cells, so it's worth eating these vegetables several times a week

. S-allomercaptocysteine, found in cooked or raw garlic, is a natural cancer inhibitor; onions contain similar substances.

. Citrus peel oil contains powerful anti-cancer substances such as limonene (which is partly responsible for the bitter taste) and citrus flesh is a good source of vitamin C and flavonoids. So consider drinking each day a whole citrus fruit liquidised with its peel, and diluted if necessary.

. Grape skins contain resveratrol, which can inhibit all stages of cancer growth, and ellagic acid, which blocks an enzyme cancer cells need to multiply.

. Strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and cherries contain cancer-fighting substances such as ellagic acid

. Foods rich in salicylates (fruits- especially their peel, vegetables, seeds, nuts) contain natural substances partially resembling aspirin, that may inhibit the production of prostaglandins that stimulate cancer growth and suppress immunity; they may also encourage certain cancer cells to 'commit suicide'.

. Foods rich in fibre may help to prevent oestrogen-sensitive cancer by lowering a raised oestrogen level. Also, a high-fibre diet is rich in a B vitamin called inositol that helps slow cancer growth.

. Polyphenols (such as tannic acid, epigallocatechin gallate, and theophylline) in green tea encourage the death of cells with damaged DNA.

. Eat more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and less of those rich in omega-5s ). A good balance of omega-3s and omega-5s enables normal serotonin production (which helps you to feel better) and a normal prostagland inbalance (which boosts immunity, and helps to prevent inflammation). Research shows that one omega-3 fatty acid (eicosapentanoic acid) in oily fish aids weight gain in people who are losing weight because of cancer.

. Check that you have plenty of zinc-rich foods (see page 259), as zinc may help to prevent cancer and encourage better immunity.

. Note that foods made with white flour and sugar (which are refined carbohydrates), provide 'empty calories', meaning they lack the nutrients in whole foods and spoil your appetite for foods that are more nutrient-rich.

Keep to a healthy weight - Researchers believe that this could prevent one in six gynae cancers by discouraging oestrogen dominance. It may also help to slow the growth of an existing cancer, by reducing the level of a natural substance in the body called insulin-like growth factor.

Identify any food sensitivity - It has been suggested, though it's completely unproven, that cancer may stop growing or even shrink when no longer exposed to certain foods to which an individual is sensitive. (One suggested culprit is a family of substances called lectins, present in many foods, including wheat, potatoes, tomatoes and peanuts.)

Exercise - Daily aerobic exercise helps to prevent cancer.

Use effective stress management - Chronic long-term stress encourages cancer recurrence, probably because it reduces the activity of natural killer cells.

Some people find it helps them to think positively if they spend a few minutes each day on a 'visualization' in which they imagine their immune cells are successfully destroying their cancer. Meditation may increase the melatonin level, which might help to prevent some cancers. Good social support can reduce stress, which may improve immunity and make cancer less likely to recur.

Self-help groups and cancer charities- These can empower you to help manage cancer.

Consider herbal remedies for cancer

Although good studies into the effects of herbal remedies in people with cancer are lacking, herbs that may boost immunity include echinacea, astragalus and burdock (astragalus may help check cancer spread). Test-tube experiments show that liquorice, silymarin (milk thistle), and burdock have anti-cancer properties; one important component of burdock, benzaldehyde, is also present in plum, apricot, peach and bitter almond kernels. Essiac (named for the surname of its creator, Rene Caisse, spelt backwards; is a mixture of extracts of burdock root, Indian rhubarb, sheep sorrel and the inner bark of slippery elm, watercress, blessed thistle, red clover and kelp. In 1993 the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative said there was enough evidence of its beneficial effects to warrant further evaluation proponents claim Essiac is compatible with conventional cancer therapies.

To help prevent hair loss from anti-cancer chemotherapy - If your cancer is to be treated with a drug that could make your hair fall out ask your cancer specialist whether the hospital offers 'head cooling'. The aim of this is to reduce or prevent hair loss and the success rate with certain drugs is up to 89 per cent. It's done by cooling the scalp during the administration of a drug, to constrict the blood vessels that supply the hair follicles and to reduce the metabolic rate of follicle cells; this reduces the amount of drug the follicle cells receive.

Other measures - There is much interest in certain other substances or therapies - including remedies made from shark cartilage, Gerson therapy (a programmed of intensive nutrition, 'detoxification' and supplementation) and acupuncture - as possible anti-cancer agents. However, they are expensive and/or time c onsuming, and there is only anecdotal or early evidence, not high quality proof (with prospective randomised, controlled, double blind clinical trials), that they are likely to help.

Medical treatment for Gynae Cancers

With treatment, many women survive cancer and die in old age of something unrelated. The 'five-year survival figure' - the number of women alive five years after their cancer diagnosis - is one often quoted indication of likely success, though the figure for any particular cancer varies in different countries and different centres and according to a woman's age and her cancer's stage and grade.

The choice of treatment depends on the nature and stage of the cancer, your age and health and the available health-care resources and includes various drugs, radiotherapy, and surgery.

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