Professor Hochberg: Cancer is the result of life choices and environmental conditions

The increase in life expectancy as well as the environmental pollution and modern lifestyle, has enhanced the risk of suffering from cancer.

With regard to cancer in animals in captivity, it is indicative that the deaths amounted to approximately 15 percent a figure estimated to be much lower in nature and is attributed mainly to the administration of contraceptives in female animals in captivity, said Michael Hochberg, professor specializing in evolutionary ecology of Montpellier University (Montpellier).

Hochberg is a guest speaker at the 8th Panhellenic Ecology Conference, organized by the Greek Ecological Society and the Department of Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH).

Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, the professor explained that when people suffer from some form of cancer, “there is always something wrong with the environment.”

“It is ironic that because we live longer, we have increased chances of suffering from cancer. This is because our way of life has changed; there is more exposure to UV radiation, and food has chemical additives,” Hochberg stated adding that a healthy lifestyle from a young age is vital for avoiding cancer in later years.

“I refer to the future impact of our choices as there are estimates that a tumor or a melanoma needs 20-50 years to grow. In order to be identified, it needs to be at least one centimeter but when the pancreatic cancer and stomach cancer are located it is too late. So we have to realize that when cancer appears at 60, it is not something sudden, but it is the result of conditions and life choices of the previous years,” the professor said noting that “we have virtually changed the way we interact with the environment.”

He added that cancer in animals in captivity is increased due to the stress they have when they do not live in their natural environment. “Many wild animals in captivity are sick and die from cancer, mainly due to contraceptives administered to females. In fact, under these conditions, a 15-20 percent of cheetahs and lions die of cancer,” the professor stated.