What is Leukemia?
What is Leukemia?
Leukemia is a blood cancer that starts in the bone marrow, which is the soft tissue inside most bones. When one is diagnosed with leukemia, their bone marrow starts to make a lot of abnormal white blood cells. These cells are referred to as leukemia cells. These cells grow at a faster pace than normal white blood cells. Leukemia cells continue to grow and divide, eventually crowding out the normal blood cells. Over a period of time, leukemia cells can take over normal blood cells, which can lead to serious problems such as anaemia, bleeding and infections.
Swollen lymph nodes that don't hurt, fever, feeling weak and tired and bleeding and bruising are some common symptoms of leukemia. Some others include unintentional weight loss, bone pain and tenderness, frequent infections, bleeding or bruising easily. There are different types of Leukemia, depending on how quickly the disease develops and the types of cells produced. Leukemia is also known as acute Leukemia is developed rapidly.
The causes of Leukemia are yet to be identified. However, there are many factors that contribute to your risk of getting Leukemia. Some of them are family history, genetic disorders such as down syndrome, previous exposure to cancer and chemotherapy and high levels of radiation. The long-term prognosis for people who have Leukemia depends on the type of cancer they have and the stage they were diagnosed in. The sooner Leukemia is diagnosed and treated, the faster is the recovery. However, factors like old age, history of blood disorders and chromosome mutations prove as a hindrance in the treatment. Leukemia can spread to other parts of your body such as lungs, gastrointestinal tract, heart, kidneys and testes.
Leukemia is said to occur when certain blood cells acquire mutations in their DNA. The exact causes of Leukemia are not known yet but there are risk factors that can increase the chances of Leukemia occurrence. These include environmental and genetic factors. Some of the other risk factors include:
- Exposure to radiation: Being exposed to high levels of radiation may increase the chances if developing Leukemia. This also includes chemicals that we often use in day-to-day lives. Many studies have spoken about the use of plastic bottles and how it can lead to Leukemia. This, however, continues to remain in research and no study has proved this so far.
- Chemotherapy used to treat other cancers: Often the radiation used during the process of chemotherapy can lead to formation of Leukemia. This is because during chemotherapy, a number of radiation and chemicals are used, depriving the body of its essential nutrients to keep well. Therefore, many a times, the patient ends up developing Leukemia.
- A family history of Leukemia: Even though no study proves that Leukemia is inherited, however, chances of immediate family member of the patient developing Leukemia is more. There is no harm in getting yourself screened once if your family member has had Leukemia.
Symptoms of the disease may vary depending on its type and severity. Some common symptoms include the following:
1. Dizziness, constant fatigue: Dizziness and constant fatigue are one of the foremost symptoms of Leukemia. This is because your body's bone marrow does not produce enough white blood cells which can severely affect your immunity. Hence, the constant feeling of dizziness and fatigue persists. Along with this, shortness of breath also occurs. Therefore, if you see yourself panting after climbing a set of stairs, it is not a good sign.
2. Fever: Prolonged fever can also be a major signal of Leukemia. If you have been getting high temperature for a while along with other symptoms like dizziness, lethargy and fatigue, you may be developing Leukemia and it is time for you to see your doctor.
3. Frequent infections and bruising: Frequent infections and bruising should not be confused with regular issues like cold and cough. When your body becomes prone to infections and bruising, it means that your body has lost its power to fight back and heal fast. This is a very important symptom and should not be ignored.
4. Weight loss: Sudden weight loss without starting any weight loss or diet plan may be your body's way of telling you that its immunity is being challenged. Therefore, getting yourself tested if you see a rapid weight loss should be your first choice.
5. Tiny red spotting or rashes on skin: When your body is damaged by cancer, it is difficult for your body to grow healthy cells again. This means that replenishment of old cells is difficult. This leads to red spotting, rashes or sometimes even pale skin.
Indian spices which help in prevention of Blood Cancer are:
1. Turmeric / Curcumin: This is the king of spices when it comes to dealing with cancer diseases, besides it adding a zesty colour to our food on the platter. Turmeric contains the powerful polyphenol Curcumin that has been clinically proven to retard the growth of cancer cells causing prostrate cancer, melanoma, breast cancer, brain tumour, pancreatic cancer and Leukemia amongst a host of others. Curcumin promotes 'Apoptosis'- (programmed cell death/cell suicide) that safely eliminates cancer breeding cells without posing a threat to the development of other healthy cells. In cases of conventional radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the surrounding cells too become a target in addition to the cancer cells. Therefore, the side-effects are imminent.
2. Cayenne Pepper /Capsaicin (Chilli peppers): A promising spice with anti-cancer properties, an overdose of chilli peppers however should be restrained. Capsaicin induces the process of apoptosis that destroys potential cancer cells and reduces the size of Leukemia tumour cells considerably. It can be concluded that apart from setting our tongues on fire, chilli peppers can scare cancer pathogens off too.