Cancer Prevention and Life style – 1

The word Cancer has turn out to be endemic in 21st century, as it has become officially the most dangerous killer in the world as per World Health Organisation. There are more than 100 types of cancers which can affect almost any part of the body and it is the second most common cause of death in India, after cardiovascular disease. Incidences of CA in both men & women according to Globocan 2018 are:

  • New cancer cases : 11,57,294

  • Deaths : 7,84,821

  • People living with cancer : 22,58,208

The Cancer is categorized by 3 cardinal features;

  1. The development of abnormal cell that divide uncontrollably

  2. Having ability to infiltrate and destroy normal body tissue

  3. Can start almost anywhere and often has the ability to spread

Physiologically, cell division & formation of new cells occurs daily / periodically for specific cells. This is normal physiology of cell production & growth. However, specific genes plus our Immunity system recognizes when a mistake occurs and repairs the mistake. Occasionally a mistake is missed by all protective mechanism of our body thus allowing rapid and uncontrolled cell growth which can cause cancer.

There are no specific cause and effect relation for failure in protective mechanisms of our body but certainly major contribution seems to be present day’s lifestyle modification i.e. the “way of living” which includes physical and psychological aspects of an individual such as personal values, preferences, and outlooks;

1) Our daily routine (food and activities) with respect to specific geographical condition where we live as well as in harmony with the seasons.

2) Personal and Social behaviours.

Let’s have a look at daily routine to stay healthy in Ayurveda; the day starts with waking up from a good night’s sleep,

  • A healthy person should get up at Brahmya Muhurta as it protects and prolongs Ayu (lifespan) of an individual

  • On the basis of muhoorta calculations Brahmya Muhoorta can be considered as a time in between 4:30 am to 5:15 am.

A specific time of waking signifies that it has a major influence & significance in maintaining integrity of body and mind functions

  1. Glancing at contemporary researches :

  1. Circadian rhythms (Internal biological clock) allow organisms to anticipate and prepare for precise and regular environmental changes. It enables organisms to better capitalize on environmental resources (e.g. light and food) compared to those that cannot predict such availability. It has therefore been suggested that circadian rhythms put organisms at a selective advantage in evolutionary terms. However, rhythmicity appears to be as important in regulating and coordinating internal metabolic processes, as in coordinating with the external environment5

  2. Circadian rhythm influences cortisol secretion6. Most bodily cells have cortisol receptors, it affects many different functions in the body. Cortisol can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation, and assist with cell memory. It has a controlling effect on salt and water balance and helps control blood pressure. In women, cortisol also supports the developing foetus during pregnancy. All of these functions make cortisol a crucial hormone to protect overall health and well-being7

  3. The circadian rhythm of cortisol secretion has a waveform pattern, occurring at about midnight. Cortisol levels start to rise about 2-3 hours after sleep onset and continue to rise into the early morning and early waking 8 hours
  1. Recently established benefits on the similar lines of getting up early in the morning are :

  • More proactive : Harvard biologist, Christopher Randler discovered in 2008 that early risers are more proactive. They were more likely to agree with statements like “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself” and “I feel in charge of making things happen.”

  • Can anticipate (predict) : Randler’s research also revealed that morning people are more likely to anticipate problems and minimise them efficiently, which leads to more successful in the business world.

  • Better planners : Early risers report using their morning quiet time for organization, goal-setting and planning out their days and weeks ahead.

  • Get better sleep : Sleep experts say that if you go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, your body will be more in tune with the earth’s circadian rhythms, which offers more restorative sleep.

  • More optimistic : various studies have shown that morning people exhibit character traits like optimism, being agreeable, satisfaction and carefulness. Early birds are more likely to work out and are often in better shape than night owls and happier.

  • Less risk of depression : A 2013 German study found a higher association between depression and the tendency to sleep late.

  • They eat healthier : Late sleepers consumed 248 more calories a day, twice as much fast food, and half as many fruits and veggies as those who went to bed and rose early, according to a 2011 Northwestern University study.

Getting up before the sunrise can encourage significantly positive deviations in psychological, physical and behaviour. Thus by making a habit of getting up early will make both the body & mind attain state through optimized awareness. As awareness is considered as “Brahma” (Prajnanam Brahma), when the body & mind are well connected, the healthy state of both is maintained. This means chances of error in protective mechanisms in the body turn negligible. And even if they do occur, they may be identified & rectified easily, and thus prevents the individual from falling victim to Cancer!

Who is allowed to sleep after sunrise ?

  1. Waking up early is specified for the Swastha / healthy person. This means that the children, elderly & diseased are exceptions.
  2. If one has missed / skipped night sleep due to unavoidable circumstances or if the nature of sleep is disturbed, they are allowed to sleep half the time they lost sleep – without showering & on empty stomach. Most of us have common practice of breakfast and sleep which become cause of impaired metabolism, food stasis and gas formation etc.

Food and sleep :

  1. Always sleep with lightness of stomach in night i.e., at least after 2 to 3 hours after dinner.

  2. Sleeping before 10.00 pm will allow graceful natural sleep and adequate metabolism.

  3. A nuclear receptor that regulates lipid metabolism and adipogenesis, is regulated by the circadian clock9 which can prevent becoming obesity victim.

Nap :

Allowed during summer, as the day is longer than the night. But here again one should sleep on an empty stomach, never after lunch.

References :

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3111701/
  2. http://cancerindia.org.in/common-cancers/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palliative_care
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20370588

  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circadian_rhythm

  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK500031/

  7. https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/cortisol
  8. https://www.integrativepro.com/Resources/Integrative-Blog/2017/Cortisol-and-Sleep
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4060304/
  10. Ashtanga Hridaya

(Author : Dr. Dayanand R D, MD (Ayu),

Cancer Consultant, Sriranga Ayurveda Chikitsa Mandira, Kuvempunagar, Mysore – 570023)