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Why have cancer projections significantly increased across all age groups since the 1970s?

Published by Connealy, MD on June 6, 2024

cancer prevalance

Data from the National Cancer Institute shows a significant increase in cancer prevalence over time. In 1975, the cancer prevalence was 3.7 million, which increased to 18.1 million by 2022. The projection for 2040 indicates that cancer prevalence will reach 26.0 million. There has been a steady increase in cancer prevalence across all age groups, even younger individuals.

Many suggest the rise in rates is attributed to longer life expectancies. In the past, fewer people survived long enough to experience cancer, contributing to the higher incidence seen today. Others believe that increased screening and technology is responsible for the perceived rise in rates. 

However, cancer rates are rising, especially in young people under 40, and screening is not typically encouraged at this age. 

So, what else could be driving these statistics?

Our world has transformed dramatically over the past century. Changes in our food supply, technological advancements, and modern lifestyles have placed unprecedented stress on the body. These are challenges that previous generations did not have to deal with. 

Not only cancer, but rates of other conditions like autoimmunity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and infertility, etc. are also increasing. I believe we should explore all possible new factors contributing to this trend, so we can improve the health of future generations.

Some factors that are contributing to rising cancer rates:

  • Changes to the food supply: Our food now contains ingredients that have never been consumed before, and our soil lacks necessary nutrients due to modern farming practices. 
  • Industrial chemicals: It’s estimated that within the last 50 years, around 75,000 new chemicals have been developed and distributed into the environment. Many of these have not been studied for their impact on human health.
  • Technological advancements: Technology like WIFI, cellphones, and wireless devices all emit radiation, and modern industrial farming and manufacturing processes distribute chemicals and pollution into the environment.
  • Modern medical practices: There is an ongoing discussion about certain practices, such as the potential for over-prescribing medications, the necessity of some surgeries, and other interventions. These practices, which can vary widely, may have unintended consequences.
  • Modern Lifestyles: Modern life is stressful in ways that our ancestors didn’t experience. We are constantly connected through social media, exposed to digital screens for extended periods, leading sedentary lifestyles, and facing high-pressure work environments. Chronic stress, inadequate sleep, and disrupted circadian rhythms due to artificial light exposure can impact hormonal balance and immune function. On top of this, we are more disconnected from nature than ever before.

“I often hear people say, ‘I ate healthy and I got cancer.’ This raises an important question: What does it mean to be healthy today? Many believe that adopting a vegan diet, running marathons, avoiding sun exposure, and using birth control epitomize health. However, these choices may not align with everyone’s individual needs. 

I believe to understand what is healthy, we need to look backwards. Our connection to nature and historical health practices has diminished, leaving many of us confused about what truly constitutes a healthy lifestyle. While we don’t have all the answers to the rising rates of cancer, reflecting on the past and the wisdom of our ancestors can provide valuable insights and guide us towards a more holistic approach to health.

Here are some ancestral insights linked to reduced cancer rates today:

  • Eating foods that grew from the earth without pesticides or chemicals
  • Eating meat
  • Participating in a family or community
  • Spending time in the sun 
  • Sleeping according to the sun & moon patterns (circadian rhythm)
  • Walking barefoot
  • Drinking clean, mineral rich water
  • Swimming in natural bodies of water & exercising outside

Nature is wise. Our ancestors were deeply connected to nature and they survived with great resilience to bring us here today. They acted with generational wisdom which may be more valuable than any study or statistics. What worked was passed down and what didn’t was discarded.

I believe we are so confused about how to live and be healthy now because we are disconnected from our true nature. We don’t have all the answers about what is causing rising rates of cancer, but it is helpful to look to the past and acknowledge the wisdom of those who came before us.

The cancer conversation is ongoing. The increasing rates aren’t random; everything has a cause and effect. It’s important to  challenge ourselves and examine all potential factors without blaming ourselves. It’s crucial to consider everything. This approach helps us understand how our bodies function and respond to various influences, allowing us to lead vibrant, healthy lives.

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