What is Inflammation and What Causes it?


Half of the cancers arising can be prevented based on what we know today. Cancer formation takes anywhere from ten to thirty years. It is a slow process. Quite a lot of times there’s presence of chronic inflammation which is linked to cancer formation. Inflammation per se is your body’s response to injury, infection or irritation. When it is acute, it is protective in nature. When it gets chronic, that’s when it gives rise to a number of medical conditions, including cancer.

Certain chronic inflammatory conditions like hepatitis is linked to liver cancer, pancreatitis to pancreas cancer, gastro-esophageal reflux disease to cancer of the esophagus and so on. Most studies indicate that an anti-inflammatory lifestyle could play an important role in both prevention and treatment of cancer. Let’s learn more about inflammation.

What is Inflammation & What Causes it?

Inflammation is our body’s natural defense mechanism. It happens in response to an injury, irritation, or infection occurring to us. When we cut our hand, or we injure it, the inflammatory process sets in and there’s the presence of redness, swelling, loss of function and pain present at the site of injury. This type of inflammation is called Acute Inflammation. Acute inflammation is healthy and important to promote healing. When inflammation is present for a long time, and our body’s immune system is unable to clear it, that’s when inflammation gets unhealthy, giving rise to a large number of diseases, like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. This long-standing inflammation is called Chronic Inflammation.

Chronic inflammatory diseases are the most significant cause of death in the world. WHO ranks chronic diseases as the greatest threat to human health. Worldwide, 3 of 5 people die due to chronic inflammatory diseases like stroke, chronic respiratory diseases, heart disorders, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. Smoking, drinking, obesity and wrong foods promote chronic inflammatory processes. Exposure to radiation, environmental pollution and certain infections, like hepatitis, H. Pylori, and HIV also promote inflammation and subsequent cancer formation. Lack of physical activity, stress, depression, isolation and lack of sleep are additional factors that promote inflammation.

How to recognize Chronic Inflammation?

It is hard to recognize the presence of inflammation in our body. In fact, obesity is considered as an inflammatory state. The symptoms and signs are mostly ill-defined and vague. The presence of fatigue, low energy levels, stress, ongoing pain, allergies, asthma and digestive problems like bloating, indigestion, abdominal pain, acid reflux, or changes in bowel habit is suggestive of the presence of inflammation.

Factors that promote inflammation include:

  • smoking
  • wrong food choices
  • lack of physical activity
  • stress
  • lack of sleep
  • mental health issues
  • obesity
  • alcohol abuse
  • infections
  • prolonged exposure to pollution & radiation

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