Cancer came back into my life twice in order for me to understand something, and I guess I still wasn't getting it. And my husband wasn't getting it, either.~Mariel Hemingway
Many studies have concluded that diets which are low in fiber, high in red meat and which don't include a sufficient amount of vegetables may cause colorectal cancer. But what about our diet in general? What should we be eating and what should we not be eating, especially having a predisposition for cancer as a result of a mutated gene?
In looking at how cancer develops, we know cancer cells take up more sugar than any other cells in the body. Consuming sugar doesn't make cancer grow faster, but cancer does feed on glucose as do all tissues that use a lot of energy. A recent study has indicated consuming foods and beverages which are high in sugar create more insulin production and which is linked to endometrial cancer.
Being predisposed to cancer, we should consider reducing or eliminating refined sugar from the diet in order to deter cancer as well as avoid other disease such as diabetes, etc. The same is true to high carbohydrate foods, breads, snacks, etc., which revert to sugar in the body. Studies indicate an impaired glucose metabolism may contribute to pancreatic cancer. Its much healthier we break our dependence upon sugars and as one very astute Clinician has suggested, "Control the sweet tooth and keep sugar use to a minimum."
Dark chocolate has been considered to be good for us and a deterrent against cancer! The darker the chocolate, the more antioxidant it contains However caution is recommended. Only the dark chocolates are considered healthy and balance is the key. A good practice is indulgence in moderation...
Limit or eliminate red meats. (The World Cancer Research Fund recommends no more than 18 ounces per week.) Some studies indicate a reduction of 50% red meat may reduce cancer risk as much as 50%. Recommended individual meat portions are the size of a deck of cards (about three ounces.) Eating meat sparingly as an ingredient and taking it from the center of the plate, rather than as an entree, such as in a beef stroganoff or pastas or soups and stews can help reduce eating meat, painlessly. We seek organic beef from animals which graze, rather than are fed with filler foods such as corn, etc. Going vegetarian (pastas, rice dishes, vegetable casseroles, etc., several times a week can make an enormous difference and decrease in risk.
Recent studies indicate Omega 3 fish oils, taken in excess can possibly increase the risk of prostate cancer by 70%. Studies indicate fish is good for us, so the real key here is to exercise moderation. It is recommended to eat fish a few times a week. Other forms of Omega 3s, which indicate to be healthy include walnuts, canola oil, broccoli, cantaloupe, kidney beans, spinach, grape leaves, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower and flax seed.
Most of us love potatoes but in quantity, they aren't all that good for us. Potatoes are fine on occasion but all too often we eat them as french fries, or with butter or fatty sauces upon them. Recent studies have evidenced the preparation of the potato can be a problem for those at high risk for cancers and snacks, particularly chips, are particularly a problem. A recent study from Holland indicated dietary patterns with a high level of snacking may result in colorectal adenomas in those with the Lynch syndrome. Yams, sweet potatoes and brown rice are some healthier exchanges in carbohydrates.
Substituting multi-grain and sourdough breads for white bread, purchase range fed chicken and use butter instead of margarine may be an option. A recent study has determined dairy products do not put individuals at high risk for cancers, however there is still concern about the fat content within dairy products which may continue to pose a risk.
Having Lynch syndrome and a predisposition to cancer, a lower fat diet is essential. Its been recommended to avoid excess salt and saturated fats. It has been long recommended to cook with extra virgin olive oils and canola oils instead of corn oils.
Green tea, dark teas and coffee has been greatly studied and it has been found all of these have a similar set of interesting and possibly useful anti-cancer compounds in them. Green tea is particularly fascinating as studies evolve. There is concern about drinking it at warm temperatures, however other studies are indicating it may have some benefits, especially as a cold tea. A recent study of the combination of selenium with green tea may be more effective in reducing the oncogenesis of colorectal cancer. A study by Texas A&M conducted on the consumption of coffee indicates a compound known as trigonelline may reduce the risk of contracting colon cancer. However, there may be a dark side to it for some individuals. Researchers advise patients facing problems with estrogen dominance and other estrogen related conditions such as breast cancer may wish to avoid consuming the compound as it may increase their levels. Finally, just recently, a study from Finland of Finns appears contradictory to the study by Texas A&M indicating heavy coffee comsumption indicates no benefit for the Finns, whatsoever, from drinking coffee.
Strongly consider avoiding processed, smoked and prepared foods. Afterall, it only takes about two minutes more to prepare homemade salad dressings, mayonnaise, mustard, etc., and they taste so much better without the high amounts of sodium, the chemicals and the preservatives prepared items have. Recipes for homemade preparation of condiments are abundant on the internet.
Finally, a bit of diversity is always good for an open mind, open heart and cancer free life. Incorporate evening meals, each week, to include basic Mediterranean foods, Asian foods, food from India, seafood and simply homemade soups and salads. Experiencing diversity with foods is not only fun and wonderfully tasty, but could be life changing and life saving.
The internet is full of tips on how to protect one's self from cancer however before taking anything, be sure and discuss it with your physician to make certain it will not harm you or interfere with your treatment. Don't let that supplement sales person sell you anything until it is discussed with your doctor.
Studies have recently indicated the sun is great for us as a major contributor of Vitamin D within our body! A new study released January of 2010 indicated of 1248 patients, those with the highest blood levels of vitamin D had a 40% lessor risk of contracting cancer than those with lessor levels. Of course, more studies need to be completed. In respect to taking Vitamin D supplements, long termed adverse effects are not known if Vitamin D taken in high doses. However, it does appear Vitamin D, obtained from foods and the sun, is extremely good for us and may be a deterrent against cancer. Grab your sun screen and head outside every day to take in a few rays! However, while Vitamin D is helpful in alleviating some cancers, a recent study indicates it does little for lessor known cancers. So, sunshine may help alleviate colon cancer, however may do little for other cancers. One thing we do know...it does lift spirits and makes the day brighter!
Over the years, there's been a little secret few individuals have known about--a product called Sun's Soup, made of vegetables which may inhibit cancer growth. Studies have and are being conducted of it and its properties and it has been found to slow the growth of cancer tumors in mice. It may be something to think about after it has been closely studied.
We need to be cautious with what we read in "studies," taking into consideration the population studied, including lifestyles, environment, ethnic diversity and many other differences between culture and societies. Studies are simply a silhouette of conditions which exist in a specific place, at a specific time, with a specific group of people. A good place to find out if that food or supplement is good for us, check with the NIH first, who studies not only top technological treatments but natural treatments, foods and claims of cancer deterents. They have a great search engine, where you can simply put in the item and read the recent U.S. and internationally collaborated governmental research on it.
Bottom line is we know fresh foods are good for us...we know balance and moderation with eating, as well as in life, is important. If it looks healthy, tastes healthy and feels healthy...its probably healthy for us.
With gratitude to Dr. John Potter of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, for his very patient and lifesaving lessons in the importance of diet and exercise, "anti-cancer style" and MD Anderson Cancer Center for their terrific tips!