Do you have a nagging backache that never seems to go away? Flu-like symptoms? A pain in your arm? Unexplained bloating? Any of these four body pains could be the warning signs of cancer. Dr. Oz reveals what you need to watch out for that could save your life.
Body Pain: Back Pain Could Mean Pancreatic Cancer
Over 44,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer will be diagnosed this year, a disease that’s regarded as a silent killer since it’s usually quite advanced by the time it’s discovered. A gland that makes acid to help you digest food, the pancreas is located deep in the abdomen, directly behind the stomach, which is why tumors are often hard to detect. When a cancerous tumor blocks the pancreatic duct, acid backs up and eats away the pancreas, which causes abdominal pain that can often radiate down the back.
Millions of people experience back pain, which is most often muscle-related. Yet, if you have persistent pain that is not helped by anti-inflammatory meds, and/or is accompanied by yellowing skin or pale stools, see your doctor to rule out pancreatic cancer.
Lastly, pain caused by pancreatic cancer can be temporarily relieved by bending over, as opposed to typical back pain caused by sore muscles that persist in that position.
Body Pain: Flu-like Symptoms Could Mean Lymphoma
Over 75,000 new cases of lymphoma — one of the deadliest cancers found in young woman — will be diagnosed this year. Lymphoma is cancer of the lymph nodes, which are located in your armpits, neck, and groin. This cancer attacks white blood cells, an important part of your immune system. Signs of lymphoma can be similar to the flu and include unexplained weight loss, night sweats or fevers above 101.5. Other symptoms include lumps in your throat, nosebleeds or bloody gums. If symptoms persist for more than a week or two, see your doctor.
Body Pain: Arm Pain Could Mean Lung Cancer
Over 200,000 new cases of lung cancer — the number-one cancer killer of all time — will be diagnosed this year. What’s more, 1 in 5 women diagnosed with lung cancer never smoked in their lives. Traditionally, lung cancer presents itself as coughing or painful breathing, but arm pain can also signify lung cancer.
This type of non-respiratory pain can occur on the inside of the arm and worsens over time. As the cancer invades locally, it blocks blood vessels and causes local irritation. You can get pain in the shoulders and neck area radiating all the way down the inside part of your arm. As opposed to sore muscles, this pain is similar to arthritis or a pinched nerve and is constant; it does not diminish by sitting, standing or putting your arm in different positions.
WATCH: When Coughs Kill
Body Pain: Bloating Could Mean Colon Cancer
Over 140,000 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed this year. If caught early, it’s one of the most curable cancers, which is why it’s important to know the warning signs. While polyps detected during colonoscopies are a risk factor, bloating can be a symptom. Bloating related to colon cancer is caused when the tumor blocks the colon, preventing gases and feces from moving through.
Other symptoms related to colon cancer include bloody stools, a change in the shape of your stool, and the feeling you urgently have to urinate.
Starting at age 50, you need to have a colonoscopy every 10 years. If you have a parent or sibling with a history of colon cancer, start getting your colonoscopy 10 years before they were diagnosed.
Top Cancer-Fighting Supplements
Most people don’t think cancer prevention can come in a bottle, but supplements are actually the “big guns” of aggressive preventive care. They give your body the building blocks it needs to prevent cancer and, in some cases, may even help heal precancerous cells. But remember that supplements alone won’t do it – you must abide by a healthy lifestyle, including eating wholesome foods and regular exercise.
Cancer-fighting Supplement: IP-6
In animal studies, IP6 (Inositol hexaphosphate) has been shown to help prevent colon, liver, lung and soft tissue cancers. Researchers believe it works by preventing abnormal cell growth. In lab studies, this naturally occurring carbohydrate found in high-fiber foods like grains, beans and seeds even turned cancerous cells back into normal cells.
Take 500mg at breakfast and dinnertime. Available for about $15 at vitamin stores.
Cancer-fighting Supplement: Selenium
This essential mineral is a potent antioxidant and works by boosting our body’s natural defenses and helping to clear out dangerous free radicals. A recent study showed that it might help reduce the risk of colorectal and lung cancers. While selenium is found in multivitamins, these usually only contain about 50-70mcg, which is enough for a healthy diet but not enough for cancer prevention, which studies indicate may be necessary.
Take 200mcg a day. Available at drug stores for about $6.
Cancer-fighting Supplement: Black Raspberry
Black raspberries have different micronutrients than red raspberries, which dictate their color and may help prevent esophageal and cervical cancer. These micronutrients are called anthocyanins. Look for all-natural, freeze-dried varieties. Freeze-drying helps preserve the anthocyanins so they don’t degrade as much before you eat them. Each 300mg capsule is the micronutrient equivalent of eating 4 cups of fresh berries daily.
Take 300mg per day. Available for $10 at vitamin stores or online.
Cancer-fighting Supplement: Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a cancer prevention must-have, since low vitamin D intake is associated with higher risks of cervical, breast and colorectal cancers. Vitamin D is a cancer triple threat that researchers believe may interrupt the growth of abnormal cells, kill off cancer cells, and help cut off blood supply to tumors.
Take 1000 IUs daily. If you forget your supplement one morning, spend about 15 minutes in the sun. Available at drugstores for about $5.