According to the latest statistics compiled by the American Heart Association, cancer surpasses heart disease as the top killer among Americans between the ages of 45 to 74. These are extremely sobering statistics and the odds are very high that you, or someone you know, has cancer or has died from it. For all of you who have lost a loved one from cancer, I extend my sympathies as my grandmother passed away from lung cancer almost 10 years ago. It’s extremely painful to watch a loved one suffer. As we continue to garner a better understanding as to how cancer develops, it’s important to recognize that genetics have more or less been ruled out as a direct cause, but they do play a role. More importantly, it is diet, lifestyle and toxic exposure in combination with genetic predisposition, which provides the perfect environment in which malignant tumors can develop. So, in the spirit of prevention, not simply detection, what can we do to minimize the cancer risk?
1. Reduce Sugar Intake: Normalizing your insulin levels is one of the most powerful things you can do to lower your risk of developing cancer and the best way to do this is to cut out the sugar. According to Ron Rosedale, M.D., an Internationally known expert in nutritional and metabolic medicine, “It doesn’t matter what disease you are talking about, whether you are talking about a common cold or cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis or cancer, the root is always going to be at the molecular and cellular level, and I will tell you that insulin is going to have its hand in it, if not totally control it.”
2. Increase Vitamin D: According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, “There’s overwhelming evidence pointing to the fact that vitamin D deficiency plays a crucial role in cancer development. Researchers within this field have estimated that about 30% of deaths could be prevented each year simply by optimizing the vitamin D levels within the general population. Countless people around the world have an increased risk of cancer because their vitamin D levels are too low due to utter lack of sun exposure.” Sun exposure is somewhat of a controversial issue. Just ask the sunscreen and cosmetic industry, they will undoubtedly tell you that sun exposure causes…cancer. However, sun exposure is the best and most efficient means of acquiring appropriate levels of Vitamin D. The caveat to this, however, is to avoid burning! Fair skinned individuals need far less exposure as lighter skin allows for greater penetration of UV-B (leading to higher levels of vitamin D). Stay tuned for future articles on appropriate sun exposure.
3. Exercise: this may not be the first thing you think about in cancer prevention, but ultimately, consistent exercise lowers elevated insulin levels, which creates a low blood sugar environment further discouraging the growth and spread of cancerous cells. Additionally, exercise improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood. Your immune system is your first line of defense against everything from minor illnesses like a cold right up to devastating, life-threatening diseases like cancer.
- Get appropriate amounts of omega-3 fats, which can be found in fatty fish like salmon. You can also take a daily omega-3 supplement like krill oil.
- Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, household chemical cleaners, synthetic air fresheners and some plastics. Not only do these toxins wreak havoc on the body by disrupting hormonal functions, they can also increase your likelihood of acquiring cancer.
- Reduce your intake of fried foods, especially starches like potatoes. Acrylamide is a cancer-causing agent formed when certain foods are fried in hydrogenated oils.
- Avoid cured or dried meats, which contain “nitrates”. During the curing process, a potent carcinogenic substance called nitrosamine is released. Bacon, sausages, cured pork and dried beef are extremely high in nitrates.
- Cut out smoked foods as the smoking process produces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAH’s are highly carcinogenic.
- Reduce processed foods! For starters, cut out the white stuff…white rice, white flour, white chips, etc., all hydrogenated oils and fats, and all products which contain added sugars, particularly high-fructose corn syrup. Abide by the 80/20 rule filling your grocery cart, and thus your tummy, with many cancer-preventing vegetables and fruits!
- Minimize alcohol intake. There is evidence suggesting that women who consume more than 1 alcoholic beverage a day have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
Unfortunately, we are all affected by cancer in some manner…either personally or through a loved one. Let’s do our part to reach out to others and share the message of prevention. Nourish yourself…Nourish those around you!