Challenges Health & fitness

Cancer causing factors.

A page and painting from my book Tulip of Sinai. These are words of Iqbal, translated by Hadi Hussain, from Payam-e-Mashriq.


How can this book on My Cancer Journey be completed without touching upon the factors that caused it, in the first place. In fact, throughout the time you are undergoing cancer treatment, you are asking yourself, ‘where did I go wrong?’ and ‘how could I get it?’ I didn’t smoke, drink, or even had fizzy drinks, ate food moderately and did exercise too. Why? How did it happen to me? It was obvious that something was terribly wrong in my life, that’s why I got it.

So, I did plenty of research. Especially about things that were dangerous. Of course at that time, we didn’t know it was dangerous. Otherwise, naturally we wouldn’t have done.

You too will notice that cancer hits the healthiest of people. It was the same with my husband (he was a health freak), and later, with me. We have been careful with food, had a moderate-life styles, we both were mainly healthy, did exercise and yet we got it. No one purposely does things to get cancer. Still when it happens, the first question you ask yourself is, ‘where did I go wrong?’ That is the most shocking part of it.

Being close to nature is the best thing to do at any time.

What did I do wrong?

This post is all about those factors which we were we doing wrong. At the same time, I want to tell you what to do, to avoid it happening to you again. (We can try to do our best). I want to do these preventive things so I do not get it again. After my research, I found out that unknowingly, yes, I and my husband did do certain things which turned out to be harmful for us.

This post is for my daughters, and all of you who are like my own children for me. I love you all. May Allah bless and protect you all.

Wrong things we did – and what to do about them.

Hot interior of car is dangerous.

Our car interiors are made of plastic type material – no matter how fancy a word it may have – in hot climate countries, be aware of not entering a car which is too hot. Also park your car in the shade, when you can.  So, my husband often put on the air conditioner in the hot car, not opening windows. Soon the car temperature would be fine. But we were inhaling all that plastic fumes in the car.  In Pakistan, cars get very hot due to our climate, in summers. Beware, it is getting warm in most parts of the world too. So, you’ve got to be super careful. So, remember, if your car has been in sun for too long, you return to your car which feels like an oven. Follow instructions:

What to do?

Open all doors and windows, and stand outside for a while, keeping the air draft and air conditioner on. Once it is better, you can sit in the car, but keep all windows open. In case you are in a hurry, (put on the air and air conditioner, and leave all windows open till it is cooler. So that you don’t inhale that plastic smelling hot air. That is the dangerous thing.

Plastic plates and dinner sets:

We all have them. They are fine. But. Don’t use them in microwave oven. Specially never put food in a plastic bag and heat in microwave oven. Do not leave hot food on them for very long. Certainly do not warm food in them.

What to do?

Avoid using plastic plates and dinner sets. Use Pyrex, glass, or any other material. If you can’t help it, certainly do not use in microwave.

Plastic bags and plastic bottles:

Yes, they are bad and dangerous when hot. When we get water or anything in plastic bottles, we don’t know how long these have been left in the hot sun while it was being transported. It could be a place in the shop, where it received hot sunshine from outside for a long time.

We have sterilized plastic baby bottles too! When I was small, the baby bottles were made of glass. But then plastic came. It was the ‘in’ thing and everything was made of it. Cool plastic is fine. Hot plastic is dangerous. Similarly, leaving cool products in plastic containers is okay. But when we store something in a plastic bag or container in freezer, then put it in microwave to heat up or de-freeze the packet in a bowl of hot water, that’s dangerous. That’s when the trouble starts.

What to do?

Plastic bags:

In the last three to four decades, we blatantly used plastic bags, not realizing how dangerous they can be. Try to stop using them. If it is not possible, then do it least possible. Certainly not using it for food in freezers, then putting them straight with plastic bags into the microwave oven while heating; or placing in bowl of hot water to defreeze. In both cases the food is in direct contact for a long time in contact with hot plastic bag.


Just cut it out of your food intake. Use stevia, monk fruit, shakkar or honey instead. Learn to make sweet dishes with these, you will soon get used to it. Supposing there is a dish made with sugar, then take just one tea spoon of it, or least possible.

Specially avoid fizzy drinks and juices which have a lot of sugar in them.

Sedentary lifestyle:

Try to be as active as possible. Walking half an hour daily. Be active at home and office. In Pakistan our staff does all the running around, and we have developed very lazy habits. Just remember, it can be very damaging. Try yoga, tai chi, or games like tennis and swimming. Golf is good too and so is simple walks. Use stairs and avoid using lifts as much as possible. Even if you have to sit for long hours in your job, take a walk after every hour. Do it under any pretext. Keep joggers in the boot of your car and take a walk in the park on return from office.

Being outdoor:

Find every excuse to be outside. If its warm, keep a refreshing cool lemonade with you. Sit outside and be one with nature for as long as possible daily. Minimum half an hour. Attach some work to do outside, like reading Holy Quran or any book in the garden. Start gardening as a hobby.

Vegetable garden:

We spend so much for flowers in our gardens, paying the gardener, getting plants and what not. We buy vegetables from the market. It should be the other way around. Have a vegetable patch at home, if you don’t have it, make one on the roof or any part of your home, which gets plenty of sunshine.

Organic foods:

Take meats just once a week, if at all, and preferably meat of cows or goats which graze on grass, and not artificial materials. Similarly, it is best to take natural milk rather than the pasteurized one. Have chickens which are desi. Also take eggs which are desi too. I know, all this is difficult, but if you are lucky enough to live in a farm house or in suburbs it would be possible for you. Or get the foods from places offering organic foods.

Warning about use of mobile phones:

What to do:

Firstly, don’t use phone inside the car. If you do, keep windows open, and keep the call brief. Use ear phone wires, or air pods, and use phone next to left ear, preferably. (My husband got his brain tumor on right side.) He often held it in right hand, holding to right ear. Of course, he wouldn’t have done it if he knew how dangerous it can be. Now you know. So, don’t.

Secondly, use phone with a speaker on. That would be best. Tell the person you are in a car, will get back later on.


Type A personalities, perfectionists, those who keep losing their tempers, and negative thinkers; all face stress. Anger is the worst, and anger kept inside it even worse than that. Because on the surface you are calm, inside you are boiling.

What to do:

Learn to understand people, and forgive more. Step away from people who make you feel bad in any way. Know that this isn’t a perfect world and nor are we all. So, why expect people to be perfect, when no one is, even we. This is why it is so important to forgive. Don’t waste your time on people who are not worth it. I know things happen. But how you react to it, is purely your own choice. So, please do yourself a favor and learn to stop being angry and negative.

Daniel Amen a world renowned American Psychiatrist says that one of the worst things for our brains is ANT: Auto Negative Thinking. Isn’t that what most of us do? Always thinking of negative things. It specially happens when an injustice has been done to you. Or to the one close to your heart. You feel it. Try to find peace within, in spite of it.

This is why reading Holy Quran daily with translations is so good. You see how many hardships were faced by the prophets, Jacob, Yousaf, Younas, Abraham, Moses, Christ and Muhammed – (Peace be upon them all). So, why do we believe that nothing will happen to us? We just need to learn to be cooler and leave things to Allah. Learn patience, and stay focused on positive activities which make us feel good.

Yes, I was also very angry with all that happened to me, specially after my husband’s death. It was very tough. If I knew how harmful those feelings of anger and being upset could be, I’d have done things differently.

Prayers, yoga, meditation, exercise, healthy sports like swimming and trekking are a great answer to stress.

Over eating, and becoming obese:

Comfort eating is a reality. Many of us do it. But it is unhealthy. I won’t go into the foods you need to take and which ones to avoid. Here I’m talking about bad habits like over eating, munching on unhealthy snacks etc. Stop taking fizzy drinks, food from tins, and  bakery stuff. Grains have gluten and end up turning into sugar in your body. So, breads, roties, are the worst. So, please reduce their amount first, then eliminate from diet.

What to do:

Fasting or intermittent fasting has been proved to be good. Focus on having legumes, fruits and salads. Exercise is good, but eating too much never helped anyone. I know Pakistani culture is deadly. Still there are those who make sure they keep their weight in control in spite of it all.

Smoking and drinking:

Why do something that you know is bad for your body and mind?

What to do?

Stop it! You are not only harming yourself and those around you.

Luke Cotinho’s research:

These are his basic points:

6 Basic Commonalities observed in Cancer Patients.

  1. Constipation.
  2. Acidity.
  3. Sleeplessness at night. (No sleep.)
  4. Emotional Stress (Failure to manage stress)
  5. Sedentary lifestyle.
  6. Less water intake.

Watch this amazing video which is an excellent round up of reasons for getting cancer. I wrote a blog post on it here.

Here is Luke Cotinho’s video about causes of cancer:

Briefly put these are his points:

6 Basic Commonalities observed in Cancer Patients.

If you find out some more things, do let me know. So far this is all I know. After cancer, you are terrified of getting it again. So, a lifestyle change has to be a must. You can’t live the same life, you lived before and expect better results.

Stay blessed.

You may also like...

Popular Articles...


  1. Fantastic observation Shireen. Very informative video by Luke cotinho
    Main cause of getting cancer to me is being unhappy. I am not saying my mother my sister or my khala or their daughters are unhappy but yes they are to some extent. Resentments which are not addressed caused it too. That’s my opinion. I may be wrong

    1. Shireen Gheba Najib says:

      Thank you Kiran, I’m glad you found it useful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *