Is cancer one of those terrible things that just happens? A random occurence over which we have no control? If stricken, is our only hope to rely soley on aggressive medical interventions including radiation, chemo therapy, drugs, and surgical procedures? Fortunately, the answers are: no, no and no!
In the continual, amazing replication of your body’s 30 trillion cells, you also produce imperfect, pre-cancerous cells. These mini-mutated cells are in turn recognized and removed by a system of cancer recognition genes. Otherwise, cancer can occur. This potential to develop cancer is present in each one of us every day. The internal environment which we maintain within our cells, tissues and organs determines whether cancer cells can multiply and develop, or whether they are eliminated.
Factors in Modern Western Lifestyle that Promote Cancer
The addition of large quantities of highly refined sugar and refined bleached flour to our diet
Refined sugar and flour lead to dramatic spikes in our blood glucose. This then leads to an increase in insulin levels and another hormone called “insulinlike growth factor” or IGF. Research indicates that peaks of insulin and IGF stimulate growth of cancer cells and also their capacity to invade neighboring tissues. Simply put, sugar and white flour feed cancer.
A departure from fruit and vegetable based diets and a reliance on animal products
Fruits and Vegetables are packed with cancer fighting nutrients that include antioxidants, such as carotenoids, flavonoids, natural vitamin C and E, and folic acid.
Changes in methods of farming and raising animals has affected the composition of our food
Feeding livestock (including poultry) corn rather than grass has changed the composition of fats in meats and animal products to contain high levels of omega-6. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids compete biochemically in our bodies. Omega- 6s trigger inflammation and promote fat storage (which both promote cancer cells) while omega-3s reduce inflammation and limit the production of adipose cells (fat). Routine use of hormones and antibiotics to promote unnaturally rapid growth (and increase profits) is actually unlawful in most developed countries.
Exposure to a large number of chemicals and drugs that didn’t exist before 1940
The explosion of household chemicals and other agents into our lifestyle occured mainly in he 1950s, ‘60s, before the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. For a brief review of some of these chemcial agents, please refer to the chart below.
The incidence of all 8 of the most common forms of cancer, (e.g. breast, prostate, colon) are seriously elevated in obese populations. Unnatural adipose by itself increases systemic levels of inflammation.
Healthy vascular function including micro-circulation to every tissue and organ deterimines optimal delivery of nutrients and is dependent on regular exercise, especially cardio.
Prolongation of lifespan
More people are living longer and cancer rates are directly correlated to age. As life prolonging technologies and drugs have been developed, a net effect for our country is a rapidly increasing over-70 population (often unhealthy) with greater susceptibility to cancer. A rapidly growing number of patients are now experiencing two and even three types of primary cancer.
Key Principles of a Cancer-Prevention Diet
Eat a “rainbow” assortment of fruits and vegetables.
This is the key-dietary recommendation for you to reduce your risk of cancer. Five is a good start; 10 servings a day is very good.
Work toward a lower fat diet (around 20% calories from fats)
Eat the right type of fats by increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Foods high in omega-3 include: salmon, flaxseed/canola oils, tofu, walnuts.
Reduce exposure to pesticides.
Buy organic produce produced locally and in season. Peel off the skin or remove the outer layer of leaves of some produce. Reduce intake of animal fat, meat, eggs, cheese as pesticides are concentrated in animal products.
Reduce the intake of industrially-raised meat and products high in animal fat.
Avoid high-calorie, low nutrient foods such as junk foods, candy, and soft drinks or foods made from refined sugars or flours.
Keep salt intake low, potassium intake high.
Note: The possible presence of pesticides in fruits and vegetables should not deter you from eating a diet high in these foods. Wash them well. The concentrations in fruits and vegetables are much lower than the levels found in animal fats, meat, cheese, whole milk and eggs! Organic foods are often better but not if less fresh, too expensive, etc. The variety of anti-oxidants in fruits and vegetables help your body eliminate possible pesticide effects.
Dietary Factors that Decrease Cancer Risk
- Whole grains
Dietary Factors that Increase Cancer Risk
- Total fat
- Saturated fats
- Refined sugar
- Total calories
Foods with Particular Anti-cancer Properties
- Green Tea, coffee
- Turmeric and curry
- Cruciform Vegetables: cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower
- Garlic, Onions, Leeks, Shallots
- Brightly colored fruits and vegetables
- Tomatoes and Tomato Sauce
- Herbs and Spices (rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, and mint)
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Foods rich in Selenium
- Vitamin D
- Probiotics (found in organic yogurts, soy yogurts, sauerkraut and kimchi)
- Citrus Fruit
- Pomegranate Juice
- Red Wine
- Dark Chocolate
Causes of Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation involving all tissues and organs, often known to the individual, is the common culprit of most prevalent forms of cancer. This accumulative inflammation is definitely a result of lifestyle choices, explaining why some cultures have very low cancer rates, while industrialized populations often suffer from high cancer rates
- Mediterranean diet, authentic Thai, Indian and other Asian cuisines
- Multigrain flour
- Selecting organic meat from animals fed grass or flax meal
- Olive oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil
- Fish rich in omega-3, e.g. salmon, trout, mahi mahi, etc.
- Skim dairy products from animals fed on grass or flax meal
- Free-range omega-3 eggs
- Laughter, lightheartedness, serenity
- Daily exercise (try to include cardio, strength and flexibility training)
- Clean environment
- Traditional Western diet
- Refined sugars, white flour
- Red meat from industrially raised animals
- Oils rich in omega-6 (corn, sunflower, safflower, soy)
- Dairy products from industrially raised livestock
- Eggs from industrially raised hens fed corn and soybeans
- Persistent anger or despair
- Insuffcient physcial activity (recommend one to two hours per day)
- Cigarette smoke, atmospheric pollution, domestic pollutants
Exercise and the Anti-Cancer Body
There are multiple pathways by which exercise can stimulate health and decrease cancer risk. What you do is not as important as consistently excercising. Get out and move! Be vigorous! Whether martial arts, a brisk walk, a morning jog, swimming, cycling, aerobics, skiing, dancing or working in the yard, all forms of provide great gains in cancer prevention.
- Exercise reduces the quantity of adipose tissue, which is the principal storage site of carcinogenic toxins.
- Helps maintain hormonal balance, reducing excessive hormone levels like estrogen and testosterone while elevating deficient hormones like thyroid and sleep hormones in less healthy individuals.
- Reduces blood sugar levels and the secretion of insulin and IGF (both of which cause inflammation and promote cancer growth).
- Stimulates and builds immune function critical for defense against cancer cells.
Common Household Chemicals to Avoid and their Alternatives
Avoid as Much as Possible
- Perchloroethylene/tetrachloroethylene used in dry cleaning
- Deodorants and anti-perspirants containing aluminium (especially for women who shave their armpits, which facilitates penetration of aluminium)
- Cosmetics, shampoo, lotions, gels, hair dye, nail polish, sunscreen containing estrogens or placental products or with parabens or phthalates. Phthalates to avoid include BBP and DEHP. Parabens to avoid include methylparaben, polyparaben, isoparaben, butylparaben
- Perfumes containing phthalates (nearly all of them do)
- Chemical household pesticides and insecticides
- Heating foods or liquids ( baby formula, coffee, tea) in plastic containers made with PVCs (which are liberated into the food when heated), polystyrene, or Styrofoam
- Preparing food in scratched Teflon pans
- Common cleaning products such as liquid detergents, disinfectants, toilet bowl sanitizers (alkylphenols, nonoxynol, octoxynol, nonylphenol, octylphenol, etc.)
- Excesive exposure to electromagnetic fields of cell phones
- Air out dry-cleaned garments in fresh air for several hours before wearing
- Use natural deodorants without aluminium
- Use of natural and organic products free of parabens, phthalates, and estrogens. Some companies, such as Body Shop or Aveda, make products without phthalates
- Wear no perfume, or wear only toilet water (which contains fewer phthalates)
- Use pesticides made from essential oils, boric acid, or diotomaceous earth
- Use glass or ceramic containers (especially when using a microwave)
- Flawless Teflon, or non-Teflon pans, such as stainless steel 18/10
- Use “green” or European Ecolabel products, or replace with white vinegar (for counters or floors), baking soda, or white soap
- Reduce use of cell phones with an air-tube headset