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Cutting Cancer Risk With Dietary Changes

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Message Denise McKinley
In my previous article on cancer we looked at the devastation causes in our lives. We saw how toxins can cause irritation which can lead to the activation of cancerous cells. We also looked at some of the certain foods that can put you at risk and some that can strengthen your chances against developing cancer. But now let’s look closer into the  most common types of cancer and how your diet and lifestyle choices can affect your risk for those cancers.

One of the leading causes of death in the world is lung cancer. And yes, smoking is mostly responsible. There is convincing evidence that diets high in vegetables and fruits are protective against lung cancer and that compounds called carotenoids are probably responsible for some of this effect. Many vegetables and fruits contain vitamins A and C and beta carotene, such as dark green leafy vegetables, red, yellow and orange vegetables and fruits. Although, if you are a smoker and continue to smoke, all of the carotenoids or the use of antioxidant supplements in the world may not help you from either preventing or from the treatment of lung cancer. First and foremost, quit smoking!

The most common type of cancer in women in the world is breast cancer. Breast cancer is a cancer that not only affects women but can affect men too. There is an increased risk of breast cancer with factors that include familial tendencies, greater adult height and weight gain in adulthood. Much of the risk of developing breast cancer involves factors that influence estrogen levels during a woman's reproductive life, such as age of menarche (first period), number of pregnancies and breastfeeding practices. Obese post-menopausal women have more than twice the average risk of breast cancer. Diets high in mono-unsaturated fat like olive oil and high in vegetables and fruits containing vitamin A, vitamin C, and beta carotene may reduce the risk. Berries are good sources of vitamin C and fiber, as well as a wonderful substance called ellagic acid, which has been found in laboratory studies to prevent cancers of the skin, bladder, lung, esophagus and breast. Blueberries are particularly high in ellagic acid and are loaded with a class of anti-oxidants as powerful as any seen.

A very common cause of death in men is prostate cancer, especially in Australia. Vegetables may decrease the risk; while a high fat diet that comprises mostly animal fat sources (such as dairy products, fatty meats) may increase the risk. Lycopene, a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, plays a leading role in the prevention of prostate cancer especially tomatoes that have been dehydrated. Dehydrated tomato compounds have been studied for preventing prostate cancer by scientists at the University of Missouri. These scientists have found that consuming tomatoes in powered form might be the best way to maximize protection against prostate cancer.

The fourth most common cancer in the world is bowel cancer, or colorectal cancer. Up to 70 percent of cases can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle. Physical activity and a diet high in vegetables and fiber are protective. Fiber moves cancer-causing compounds out of the body before they can create harm. It is also thought to dilute potential carcinogens, and may affect hormone production, thus lowering the incidence of hormone-related cancers like breast and prostate cancers. The National Cancer Institute recommends 20-30 grams of fiber per day. Great sources of fiber come not only in whole grains but in fruits, legumes and cruciferous vegetables. Some whole grains to look for are barley, oats, oat bran, and nuts. Apples, bananas, blackberries, citrus fruits, pears, and prunes are fibrous fruits. Legumes like lima, kidney, pinto, and navy beans, peas, chick peas, black-eyed peas, and especially lentils these are all high in fiber. Beans contain several chemicals that boost immunity to cancer. Those chemicals show the ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in different tissues and slow the growth of tumors. Include cruciferous vegetables Brussels sprouts, carrots, tomatoes, kale, Swiss chard, bok choy and broccoli on a daily basis. Substances in these vegetables have shown the ability to stop the growth of cancer cells in laboratory studies, particularly by regulating a complex system of enzymes that provide a good line of cancer defense. Some studies have correlated colorectal cancer with consumption of red meat, especially high-fat meats. Cut down your portion sizes to 3–5 ounces a day or less is beneficial in reducing that risk. A simple way is to base the amount of meat according to these proportions. Aim for 2/3 (or more) fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans, and 1/3 (or less) animal protein on your plate. Instead of red meat, choose white meat such as chicken or turkey.

Many studies now show that the combination of alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking has a synergistic effect; together they are more likely to cause cancer than either of them separately.

A twenty-year study called the Nurses Study, conducted by Harvard University; showed saturated fats were correlated with a higher incidence of endometrial cancer. The primary source of saturated fat is animal products, such as meat, whole-fat milk and milk products, and eggs. Trans-fats, otherwise known as hydrogenated oils, come from heating vegetable oils, and are found mainly in commercially prepared baked goods, fried foods, margarines, snack foods, and processed foods. A bag of Doritos has 40% chemicals, ranch flavored chips contain high levels of MSG. They are all made with pro-carcinogenic oils and high amounts of sugar, methionine, and food additives. Most chips are cooked in omega-6 oils so you get a concentration of cancer-stimulating additives and ingredients. These foods which are also high on the glycemic index release and promote cancer growth. A high glycemic diet can cause you to gain weight and can lead to obesity. Obesity it is a known cause of kidney, pancreatic, and oral/esophageal cancers. A high fat diet contributes to a high population of free radicals since fat cells split apart easily.

Studies indicate that if you have a healthy lifestyle your chances of not getting cancer are increased to 70%. Increasing your daily consumption of fruits and vegetables and reduce unhealthy dietary fats. It is recommended that you limit fat to 30 percent or less of your caloric intake. However, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, studies have shown that what is most important is not the amount of fat in the diet, per se, but the type of fat. Thus, the latest advice is to cut out the unhealthy fats – saturated fats and trans-fats. If we stop using chemicals, if we stop eating junk food and chemically laden foods and start consuming the foods that nature has provided, we would all be much healthier.

Making healthy choices can be your first line of defense against cancer besides from early detection is what can make the difference of determining if cancer treatment is more likely to be successful. Regular screening and self-examination may not prevent cancer, but it can increase your chances of discovering cancer early and that could save your life. Screening should include your skin, mouth, colon and rectum. If you're a man, it should also include your prostate and testes. If you're a woman, include cervix and breast cancer screening. Know your body well, be in tune with it. If you notice any changes, see your doctor. If you are not happy with the opinion of that doctor there is nothing wrong with getting a second or even third opinion. Do your research, be informed of every option available to you and have peace of mind that you did everything you could; that you did your homework. Love and take good care of your body, when you do your body will give back to you ten-fold.

Just think of the opportunities we can give our children and our grandchildren by just changing how we think about the choices we make. By eating a well-balanced diet, maintaining other healthy habits like exercising and eliminating tobacco and reducing your consumption of alcohol you can reduce your risk of cancer. Make a habit of reading package labels, it’s vital. Stop eating on the run and grabbing the first food you see. Think first before you put those Doritos into mouth!
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Denise McKinley R.N., Vice President Head of R&D, Medical Advisory Board Member of Internal Creations, Inc. Featured Expert at on Health Products and Services. Denise has always had a strong interest in biology and health care. She (more...)
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