04 Feb Yes! You Can Help to Prevent Cancer!
Cancer Awareness month is once again upon us, but many of us may feel like it’s hopeless. Cancer seems to be everywhere, but science has shown that there are ways to prevent cancer. In fact, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, 40% of all cancer cases are entirely preventable; with basic lifestyle changes, they could have never happened.(1)
You Can Change Your Odds – Make a Difference for Your Future
It may seem simplistic, but these 4 steps can help to make your body an inhospitable place for cancer to develop:
It has been proven that low fiber, low nutrient, high fat, and high red meat diets increase the risk of several cancers. It is important to eat a varied diet with many fruits and vegetables to give your body a wide range of nutrients, and lots of fiber. There are some vegetables and grains that are especially cancer-protective, including cauliflower, broccoli, onions, and flaxseed. (2) By choosing six or more servings of these nutrient-dense foods every day you substantially reduce your risk of developing cancer. (3)
When choosing what to eat for a meal or snack, always try to include fruits or vegetables, and make sure to eat a wide variety. The great thing about including these nutrient-rich foods in your diet is that they protect against almost all other diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, so while protecting your body against cancer you are improving your overall health! (2)
Exercise and Stay Lean
Being overweight, and having a sedentary (or inactive) lifestyle are both major risk factors for cancer. You can protect your health by staying active, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight. (1) The effort you put in now can save your health down the line.
Limit Toxin Intake
The world is full of carcinogens, or cancer-causing agents, most of which have been deemed safe for our use. In small concentrations they are of no concern, however, when we use or consume these toxins on a daily basis, the cumulative effects can overload our bodies. Consider your toxin load in different areas of life.
It’s important to note that many of our favorite foods, like processed meats, have nitrates added to them. Nitrates are carcinogens and this is why cancer organizations and doctors encourage limiting your intake of them. You can also lower your toxin intake by reducing alcohol consumption to 1 glass a day or less. (4)
Cleaning supplies often contain carcinogens and the American Lung Association recommends limiting their use or switching to natural cleaning supplies to protect your lungs. They specifically mention air fresheners, spray cleaners, bleach, oven cleaner, and furniture polish. Remember, if you can smell it is in your lungs! (5)
Get Your Vitamins
A diet that is monotonous – eating the same things again and again – does not support a healthy body and leaves you at risk for cancer. Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is crucial to get all of the different nutrients that the body needs. However, even the healthiest diets may need supplementation to ensure all nutrient needs are being met. Vitamin D6, for example, is absorbed through sun exposure on the skin but is difficult for Manitobans to get in the winter months. Chlorophyll (found in green leafy foods), Folic Acid (8) (found in dark green leafy vegetables), and Selenium (found in whole grains) are other key nutrients for the functioning of the body, improving the immune system, and even slowing the growth rate of some tumors. If these nutrients are missing from your diet, consider a multivitamin to fill in these gaps.
It is important, however, not to solely rely on supplements for these vitamins and nutrients, as the nutrients found in food are more readily available for our bodies to digest and use. Fruits, vegetables, and grains are packed with micronutrients needed for cancer prevention and overall health. An unhealthy diet cannot be magically fixed with a multivitamin pill.
Your Body: Your Health
Take Control of Your Health
1 “Research in Cancer Prevention – Canadian Cancer Society.” Www.cancer.ca, www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/cancer-research/prevention/?region=on.
3 Plant foods, fiber, and rectal cancer. Slattery ML, Curtin KP, Edwards SL, Schaffer DM
Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Feb; 79(2):274-81.
6 25-hydroxyvitamin D-1alpha-hydroxylase in normal and malignant colon tissue.
Tangpricha V, Flanagan JN, Whitlatch LW, Tseng CC, Chen TC, Holt PR, Lipkin MS, Holick MF
Lancet. 2001 May 26; 357(9269):1673-4.
7 Chlorophyllin intervention reduces aflatoxin-DNA adducts in individuals at high risk for liver cancer.
Egner PA, Wang JB, Zhu YR, Zhang BC, Wu Y, Zhang QN, Qian GS, Kuang SY, Gange SJ, Jacobson LP, Helzlsouer KJ, Bailey GS, Groopman JD, Kensler TW Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Dec 4; 98(25):14601-6.
8 Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase polymorphism, dietary interactions, and risk of colorectal cancer. Ma J, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci E, Artigas C, Hunter DJ, Fuchs C, Willett WC, Selhub J, Hennekens CH, Rozen R Cancer Res. 1997 Mar 15; 57(6):1098-102.
9 Selenium Information Sheet. http://www.selenium.arizona.edu/INFOse.htm