Sunday, May 13, 2012

Running and Cancer

Cancer, now there's a word that throws a scare into most people. I read recently that it has surpassed heart disease as the number one killer of Americans.In a prior post entitled,The Trojan Horse Syndrome,I addressed the claims by some "authorities" that suggested running might actually contribute to the formation of cancer cells.Unfortunately,this expert made the mistake of saying that those who ran x amount of miles or more were leaving themselves at risk for developing cancer at some time in their lives. What was ignored in the article and other publications was the acknowledging of what kind of running may leave you more vulnerable to getting a form of the disease.The emphasis here is on the word may.If definitive proof exists out there to substantiate a claim that ALL kinds of running can lead to the development of cancer I haven't seen it.Now,there does appear to be certain studies which indicate that habitual hard training and racing can lead to the formation of free radicals in your body that could cause the development of mutations in your DNA.This situation might potentially lead to the formation of cancer cells.Naturally, these conclusions bring up such questions as,what constitutes hard training and racing,how long a period of time does one have to engage in such activities before you would be deemed at risk(for developing cancer)?
Back in the wonderful days of the 70's running boom(boon?), running was looked upon as a cure for most anything that ailed you.As we have now come to realize,running is good for lots of things but certainly not everything.
This brings us back to the subject of running and cancer. Over the decades I have noticed that cancers haven't been eliminated but the ways of detecting them and their treatment have advanced to the point where the survival rate of patients has improved significantly.A cure for cancer has not been reached despite billions of dollars being spent in the effort to find one. It appears that factors such as pollution to our air and water, as well as the chemicals that go into the growing, production and manufacture of our foods may play a significant role in our developing cancer.Often overlooked is how pollutants and enviromental conditions, over a long period of time, can negatively effect cell development. This is not only a problem for one individual,it can have an impact on any children they may have.Our genes and cells, both good and bad,are passed on to our children.So does aerobic centered running prevent cancer? Maybe. I do know this,there are studies that show that those who have run regularly for years have a lowered incidence of colon and breast cancer. I also recognize the fact that it is much easier to minimize your risk factors for getting the disease then waiting until you have a cancer diagnosis.Once you get the diagnosis it's then time to get the treatment,all the running in the world and healthy eating,although very important,takes a back seat to the specific treatment of that cancer.
Consider the following by Dr,Van Aaken: "Energy is required in all processes of life,and energy is produced in the cells almost exclusively by chemical reactions which consume oxygen....As long as mankind doesn't understand the importance of oxygen as an elixir of life,so long will diseases of civilization continue to increase.Oxygen must be acquired by the application of effort to reach the billions of cells in our body."
So what type of activity do you think the good Doctor,through his extensive studies,believes is the best way to achieve maximal oxygen intake? By endurance(aerobic) training of course!
Van Aaken, after noting that a once healthy cell, if deprived of necessary oxygen pressure can develop into a cancer cell, writes: "Endurance training, carried on at a moderate pace with optimal breathing efficiency, is because of it's optimal provision of oxygen to all 60 billion cells of the organism, the best guarantee of the prevention of cancer in certain forms which depend on a inhibiting of the oxygen supply."
What did Van Aaken conclude from his years of research? He states: "that an optimal running training with eightfold increase in the endurance function of the biological oxidation process,carried on for years,prevents cancer."
Am I saying that the last statement is 100% provable? No,but it makes sense. The fact is,is that Van Aaken is referring to a running program that involves more than putting on the shoes and going out for a 2 or 3 mile jog  each day. There is a whole lot more to his system then that, none of which involves needing a degree in science to understand. His running program is as pleasurable as it gets and adaptable to runners of all levels. For the speedsters who might want to dismiss his style of training I would say, look to champions Harald Norpoth,Manfred Steffney,Jacki Hansen and Joan Ullyot for starters.
Once again,for those who live for the run,and those who desire to live a long, healthy, active life, I encourage you to read the Van Aaken Method.    

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