Probably like you, I’m surrounded by cancer. Friends, family, young and old. Matters not to cancer.
So what can we do to maximize our chances of keeping cancer out of our own bodies? Most researchers agree that your chances of contracting cancer may be largely predetermined by your genetics. However, if your genes are the gasoline soaked pile of wood, your lifestyle is the match.
I decided to research the latest information and discovered the top ten scientifically verified habits we must develop to maximize our chances of avoiding this nasty disease.
(note: These are in no particular order of importance.)
1. Non-Smoking, Please.
Avoid smoking. Avoid being around smokers. Period.
A study in the American Journal of Public Health detailed the levels of NNK (a known carcinogen or cancer causing agent) found in the urine of nonsmoking bar and restaurant workers compared to nonsmokers working in smoke free environments. Those unfortunate nonsmokers surrounded by smoke had three times the amount of NNK than the smoke-free people. Also, their levels of NNK rose 6% for each and every hour they worked. “There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and the greater the exposure, the higher the risk,” says the study’s lead author, Michael Stark, Ph.D., principal investigator for the Multnomah County Health Department, in Portland, Oregon.
2. Let’s Get Physical…
Exercise, like smoking, falls into the “no-duh” category. But you may be unaware of just how little physical activity is required to provide you with a benefit – even little bouts of exercise have big benefits.
A very large study of over 29,000 men published last year in the International Journal of Cancer shows that men could reduce their risk of metastatic prostate cancer by more than 30% by exercising just ONCE a week! If you increase the frequency, duration, and intensity of the exercise, you get even more reductions in risk. But the biggest jump in risk-reduction was in those men who exercised once weekly versus those who did nada.
3. Maybe Eve was onto Something…
Thought by some to be the real fruit of Adam and Eve, the Pomegranate is gaining recognition as a potent cancer fighter. The fruit and its juice are full of polyphenols, isoflavones, and ellagic acid, elements that have been repeatedly shown to reduce cancer risk and even treat cancer. Researchers published results showing that pomegranate inhibited lung-cancer growth in mice. BTW, the mice in this study drank the human equivalent of 16 ounces of juice per day, so drink up!
4. Vitamin D – The New Kid on the Block
I can remember hearing very little about the importance of Vitamin D when I was in training. Now it seems to be everywhere in the popular and medical press! And for good reason…
We now have nearly irrefutable evidence of Vitamin D’s cancer benefits. A Creighton University study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who supplemented their diets with 1,000 international units of vitamin D every day had a 60 percent to 77 percent lower incidence of cancer over a 4-year period than did women taking a placebo. “I don’t think the effect is limited to women,” says Joan Lappe, Ph.D., the lead study author. “Vitamin D is necessary for the best functioning of the immune system—it causes early death of cancer cells.”
Nature intended us to make vitamin D from the sun, but in my cynical experience most people do not receive enough sun exposure to reach the optimal level of 80 nanomoles per liter. A blood test can give you a baseline. From there, Lappe recommends supplementing with 1,100 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D in a stand-alone pill every day. Vitamin D is found naturally in several foods including reindeer meat—which may explain Santa’s longevity in spite of his jelly-belly.
Anxiety is almost a pandemic in modern society. Researchers followed 1,600 men over 12-years and found that about 50% of those with increasing levels of stress and worry died during the study period. Yep. D-E-A-D. Nearly 34% of the neurotic men died of some type of cancer.
Compare that to the Life is Good crowd. Less than 20% of the optimists died before the 12-year study was completed.
Some good advice for those who suffer from anxiety: “The more time you spend in the present moment, the more relaxed you’ll be, because most mental anguish occurs over stuff that’s already happened or that may or may not happen in the future,” says Claire Wheeler, M.D., Ph.D., the author of 10 Simple Solutions to Stress. ” If all the meditation in the world is not going to help your anxiety, I may need to test your neurotransmitter levels for a brain chemistry imbalance. As a certified provider of natural treatments for anxiety, I can test your neurotransmitter and hormone levels and develop a strategy to help your chemistry help you.
6. Another Excuse to eat Sushi...
When researchers fed the polyphenols from brown seaweed to mice that had been exposed to UV rays, their skin cancer rates dropped 60 percent. And existing tumors diminished by 43 percent. The doses that produced these effects were the equivalent of only 1 or 2 tablespoons of brown seaweed for us humans — great news for guys like me that really do not like sushi… or seaweed too I guess.
7. Got Pterostilbene?
Researchers say that the Pterostilbene rich blueberry is a colon cancer-fighting genius. When colon cancer filled rats were given pterostilbene, they had 57% less precancerous lesions after 8-weeks than those rats not given the compound. Eat blueberries and you’ll also benefit from a big dose of vitamin C (14 milligrams per cup). In a study of 42,340 men, New England Research Institute scientists discovered that men with the highest dietary vitamin C intake (as opposed to supplements) were 50 percent less likely to develop premalignant oral lesions than men with the lowest intake were. A cup and a half of blueberries daily will do the trick.
8. The Selenium Dilemma
When it comes to selenium, you can actually get too much of a good thing, A study of almost 1,000 men, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that when those with the lowest initial levels of selenium in their bodies received a daily supplement over a 4 1/2- year period, they cut their prostate-cancer risk by a whopping 92%. But men who started out with high selenium were rewarded with an 88% increase in total cancer risk when they took the supplements. Moral: It pays to get your selenium level right. If you are unsure where your levels of selenium range, let me test you. If you are taking a supplement that contains selenium, please stop until you know where your levels stand.
9. Get Skinny — or at least less Fat
Being overweight increases your risks of developing cancers of the breast, cervix, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, prostate, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, stomach, ovary and colon. Some researchers believe that excess weight is a factor in 20% percent of all adult cancer-related deaths. This, like smoking and exercise falls into the “no-duh” category.
10. Cut the Sugar
This is perhaps the MOST controversial of my ten, but I believe the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the cancer-sugar link. For a great review of this issue see the excellent Mercola article here. Bottom line: Avoid processed foods and limit natural sugars.
1. Stark MJ, Rohde K, Maher JE, Pizacani BA, Dent CW, Bard R, Carmelia SG, Benoit AR, Thomson NM and Hecht SS. “The Impact of Clean Indoor Air Exemptions and Preemption Policies on the Prevalence of a Tobacco-Specific Lung Carcinogen Among Nonsmoking Bar and Restaurant Workers.”American Journal of Public Health, 97(8): 1457–1463, 2007.
2. Nilsen, T. I.L., Romundstad, P. R. and Vatten, L. J. (2006), Recreational physical activity and risk of prostate cancer: A prospective population-based study in Norway (the HUNT study). Int. J. Cancer, 119: 2943–2947. doi: 10.1002/ijc.22184
3. University Of Wisconsin – Madison. “Pomegranate Juice May Help Fight Lung Cancer.”ScienceDaily, 28 Apr. 2007. Web. 8 Dec. 2013.
4. Lappe JM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, Recker RR, Heaney RP. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduced cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr . 2007;85:1586-1591.
5. Daniel K. Mroczek, Purdue University, and Avron Spiro III, Boston University. Personality Change Influences Mortality in Older Men. Psychological Science. Volume 19, Number 5 •May 2008.
6. Hwang, H., Chen, T., Nines, R. G., Shin, H.-C. and Stoner, G. D. (2006), Photochemoprevention of UVB-induced skin carcinogenesis in SKH-1 mice by brown algae polyphenols. Int. J. Cancer, 119: 2742–2749. doi: 10.1002/ijc.22147