Root Causes of Chronic Fatigue, Part 16: A Hidden Cancer

Health Tips / Root Causes of Chronic Fatigue, Part 16: A Hidden Cancer
Hidden cancer

Yes, cancer is a scary topic. Most primary care doctors, this one at least, know that when a patient comes in for evaluation of a symptom she can’t figure out, a symptom that isn’t going away (like chronic fatigue), a symptom for which she’s been told, “We can’t find anything wrong with you,” at least once she wondered if it was cancer.

Well, good news. The very first presentation of cancer is rarely chronic fatigue alone. Not impossible, but rare. Usually more symptoms accompany the fatigue of cancer, and positive test results, like abnormal blood chemistries, start appearing along the way. Some cancers, however, called occult/hidden or “unknown primary cancers,” can take so long to diagnose (cancer of the pancreas, for example) that by the time they’re discovered, the chances for a full cure are limited. I’ll write more about occult/hidden cancers next week.

For decades, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has published lists of cancer warning signs. Here’s one of them, with my bold add-ons the type of cancer you’re being warned against.

  • Change in bowel or bladder habits Large intestine/bladder.
  • A sore that does not heal Skin.
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge Female sexual organs.
  • Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere Breast/lymph glands.
  • Indigestion or difficulty swallowing Stomach/esophagus.
  • Obvious change in a wart or mole Skin.
  • Nagging cough or hoarseness Throat/lung.

You can go over this list and with any luck say to yourself, “At least I don’t have any of these. But…what are my chances of getting cancer someday?”

Lifestyle matters, again

A full 40% of cancers are preventable with lifestyle changes. Despite this, cancer remains the second leading cause of death. Cancer rates and numbers have definitely increased over the past decade, likely because of improved cancer screening tools. Survival rates from cancers have also increased over the past decade(earlier diagnoses, advances in treatment).

Here is a list of established causes of cancer from the ACS:

  • Cigarette smoking 19 percent of cancer cases and 28.8 percent of deaths.
  • Obesity and being overweight 7.8 percent of cases and 6.5 percent of deaths.
  • Alcohol intake 5.6 percent of cases and 4 percent of deaths.
  • Ultraviolet radiation 4.7 percent of cases and 1.5 percent of deaths.
  • Lack of exercise  2.9 percent of cases and 2.2 percent of deaths.
  • Low fruit and vegetable intake 1.9 percent of cases and 2.7 percent of deaths.

“The combination of excess body weight, alcohol intake, poor diet, and physical inactivity accounted for the highest proportion of all cancer cases in women and was second only to tobacco smoking in men,” ACS researchers added.

It’s with an undeniable sense of pride that I report that newly diagnosed cancers appear much less often among WholeHealth Chicago patients than the national average. This, my friends, is the result of our community of exercisers and non-smokers who think nothing of eating five to ten servings of fruit/veggies (usually organic) a day. They keep their weight mostly under control and their stress somewhat under control (sometimes stressing over their weight). They slather on sunblock when needed and follow the guidelines for cancer screening (mammograms, Pap smears, skin checks, and colonoscopies/Cologuards).

As regular Health Tip readers, you’re probably also aware that nutritional supplements are associated with reducing cancer risk. Here are my recommendations:

Optionals include: Concentrated UltraProstagen (for men) twice daily; Resveratrol HP (inhibits cancer development); and eat more garlic (colon cancer prevention).

Next week: Steps for early diagnosis of the 60% so-called non-preventable cancers.

Be well,

David Edelberg, MD