This amazing guest post was written by Dr. Simone Burke, a Naturopathic Doctor. You can check out her website here!
The kidneys are bean-shaped organs located at either side of the spine at the mid-lower back. Their job is to siphon toxins, waste products, and fluid out of the blood and excrete the waste and fluid as urine. The kidneys filter over 500 gallons of blood every 24 hours. Toxins are initially passed through the liver where they are made water soluble, and then they reach the kidneys for further filtrating. The kidneys must distinguish toxins from nutrients so that the toxins are filtered from the blood, while nutrients including amino acids and glucose are returned to the bloodstream. Toxins are then eliminated in the urine.
The kidneys are one of the major organs of elimination and are in constant contact with toxins that we come into contact with.
As our exposure to toxins and environmental pollutants has increased, so has the incidence of kidney cancer. Kidney cancer is the seventh most common cancer for men, and it is the tenth most common cancer for women.
In the early stages, there may not be many signs that something is wrong. Often times, kidney cancer is found while going for an x-ray or ultrasound for something completely unrelated. Sometimes it is only when the tumor is large enough to affect other organs that symptoms may appear.
Some of the symptoms to watch out for are:
- Blood in the urine
- Pain or pressure in the side or back
- A mass or lump in the side or back
- Swelling of the ankles and legs
- High blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Recurrent fever that is not from cold, flu, or other infection
- For men, a rapid development of a cluster of enlarged veins around a testicle, known as a varicocele.
So, how can you reduce your risk of kidney cancer? First, you can reduce the amount of toxins that the kidneys are exposed to and second, give your kidneys some of the super nutrients that they deserve.
Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Kidney Cancer
1. Quit smoking
Smoking may be one of the greatest risk factors for elevating the likelihood of developing kidney cancer. High levels of cadmium are associated with smoking and can cause kidney cancer. Smoking also increases carbon monoxide exposure to tissue, thereby creating a low oxygen environment which sets the stage for inflammation and cancer.
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In addition, cigarette smoke has a chemical called benzo-alpha-pyrene diol epoxide. This is a known carcinogen and mutagen which damages DNA and causes oxidative stress. This leads to inflammation, which along with damaged DNA increases one’s risk of cancer.
2. Eat Real Food – Food that is fresh and that has not been altered or preserved
Our foods and beverages are being altered to last longer and look better. These chemicals are also increasing the risk of kidney cancer. For example, BPA (bisphenol A) which has been banned by the FDA is still used to line aluminum cans. The evidence is now showing that this chemical damages the kidneys and increases the risk of cancer. Food coloring is another example. Food dyes have been linked to cancer.
For example, Yellow #6 (E110) has been banned in Norway and Finland. It causes tumors in the kidneys and adrenal glands of laboratory animals. Yet it is still found in American cheese, macaroni and cheese, candy, and carbonated beverages.
3. Maintain a healthy body weight, a healthy insulin response, and keep your blood pressure in a normal range
These factors reduce your risk and are associated with a healthy inflammatory response.
On the flip side – Obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure are associated with insulin resistance, low oxygenation of tissues, metabolic diseases, increased oxidative stress and inflammation. Obesity is related to renal cancer specifically. In fact, more than 40% of renal cell cancer patients are obese.
4. Use natural cleaning products
Trichloroethylene which can be found in household cleaners as well as industrial machining and refrigerants is an example of one chemical that has a direct relationship to kidney cancer. Trichloroethylene has been found to cause renal cell mutations.
5. Lead an active lifestyle
Leading a sedentary lifestyle puts you at risk for developing kidney cancer. Regular physical activity is associated with lowered body weight and blood pressure, improved insulin management, and a healthier inflammatory response
Women who give birth at a young age are 40-90% more likely to develop kidney cancer. There is also an association with the number of children a woman has had – the more births a woman had, especially at a younger age, the higher her risk.
Men are twice as likely to develop kidney cancer as women.
The average age for diagnosis is 64. People between the ages of 50-70 should be screening for symptoms of the disease.
9. Ethnic Background
Genetics plays a major role in the body’s risk to the kidney cancer. Kidney Cancer rates are higher in Europe and North America as compared to Asia and South America. It has also been found that of people of Asian descent living in the United States exhibit the same low rates of kidney cancer as do people in their country of ancestral origin.
10. Give your kidneys some of the super nutrients they need
Science provides ample support that a diet rich in vegetables and fruit will lower your risk of developing cancer. A diet rich in antioxidants is one of the best-known defense systems to keep you healthy and to prevent cancer.
Some foods for supporting the kidneys include: greens, asparagus, beets, dandelion greens, watermelon, cucumbers, garlic, parsley, watercress, celery, papaya, horseradish, parsnips, mango, and kale.
Get Enough Fluids
Drink water, vegetable juices and add lemon / lime to your water. Fluids help to flush toxins from your body.
Include Foods High in Antioxidants
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals. Even in relatively low amounts, antioxidants can help slow or stop the rate of oxidation caused by free radicals. Examples of antioxidants include flavonoids, lycopene and vitamins C, E and beta-carotene. These can be found in red bell peppers, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, strawberries, cherries, and red grapes.
Choose Healthy Oils
Your healthy oils reduce inflammation and protect against oxidation. Get your omega 3’s from your fatty fish, such as salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, herring and rainbow trout. Use extra virgin olive oil on your salads.
Choose Organic Grass Fed Meats
These meats are hormone free and have a higher amount of essential fatty acids than non-grass fed meats. This leads to less inflammation and less artificial hormones for your kidneys to process. Grass-fed meat is higher in antioxidants which are cancer-fighting precursors.
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