It is estimated that only five to ten percent of cancers have a primary genetic basis. Environmental exposure, lifestyle (for example smoking), other diseases, and diet play significant roles in the gene-environment interaction. One study showed convincing evidence in identical twins that only one to two percent experience the same cancers.
More important is the interaction between our genes, free radicals, infections and our ability to avoid, repair, and prevent the damage done to our genes by free radicals.
Genes that undergo a mutation that lead directly to the development of cancer are called oncogenes. These mutations can arise from the activity of anti-oxidants on the genetic material.
Most free radicals come from normal metabolic activity. Others come from toxins, chemicals, preservatives, and insecticides that we consume on a daily basis. Growth factors like insulin and infection increase free radical formation. Free radicals can bind and change DNA, or enzymes that interact with DNA, and increase the risk of cancer.
A normal cell takes 10,000 free radical hits in its lifetime. Our body, with the proper nutrients, has the ability to repair damage caused to DNA. In order to do so, it requires folic acid, B12, methionine, and S.A.M. These nutrients are also involved with DNA replication. A deficiency of these nutrients inhibits our ability to repair DNA, hence increases our risk for cancer. It’s estimated that our body successfully repairs 999 out of 1,000 damaged genes.
Antioxidants have the ability to neutralize and/or eliminate free radicals. Hence, most studies indicate a diet high in antioxidant-rich foods can decrease cancer risks. Some antioxidants are essential to life and, without them, we die. Most problems arise from an excess of free radicals. However, free radicals also perform many important roles in the body. It is best to ask your doctor about antioxidants specific to your needs. The preferred source of anti-oxidants is dietary.