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7 Simple Ways to Decrease Your Cancer Risk

Written by Wellness Club on July 8, 2011 – 7:44 pm -

By Dr. Dana Myatt

 

7 Simple Ways to Decrease Your Cancer Risk

 

Modern medical science knows a lot about the causes of cancer — much more, in fact, than we know about its cure. “Carcinogens,” or factors that cause cancer, abound in our environment. Avoiding them is one way to prevent cancer. Other factors are protective, helping shield us from getting cancer.

Here are seven simple steps you can take to greatly reduce your cancer risk.

  1. Take a hike. Even modest amounts of weekly activity have been associated with decreased risk of breast, colon, prostate, kidney, esophageal and perhaps other types of cancers. So get out those walking shoes and take a brisk walk — or any other form of your favorite activity that gets your blood pumping — for at least 30 minutes, three times a week.
  2. Spice up your life. Many common spices have proven anti-cancer benefits. Liberal use of herbs and spices, especially turmeric, garlic and onions, cayenne pepper, ginger, caraway, orange and lemon zest (grated orange or lemon peel), basil, rosemary and mint will not only add more flavor to food, but also help keep cancer away.
  3. Let the sun shine in. Rates of skin cancer (malignant melanoma) are rising 7% per years in the U.S. Yet for thousands of years “B.S.” (before sunscreen), skin cancer was not a major problem. Skin cancers are NOT caused by moderate sun exposure. In fact, the vitamin D created in our bodies in response to sunlight is highly cancer-protective. For those who have trouble getting sufficient sunlight to manufacture a healthy dose of vitamin D (about 12 minutes of sunlight per day), vitamin D supplements appear to be nearly as protective. The recommended supplemental dose is 2,000-3,000IU of vitamin D3 per day.
  4. Kick butt. That’s right, don’t smoke (or chew) tobacco. Tobacco smoke (cigarettes, cigars, pipes) is associated with a LONG list of cancers, including oral cavity/pharynx, larynx, esophagus, bladder, bowel, stomach, pancreatic, cervical and uterine cancer — oh yes, and lung cancer. (See Smoking: Just the Facts on the Wellness Club website for a complete list of problems caused by exposure to tobacco smoke). Tobacco in any form (smoked, chewed) is a proven risk factor for cancer. Even second-hand smoke appears to increase risk of some cancers. Kick butt while the kickin’ is good.
  5. Stay “lean and keen.” Maintain a normal weight. Statistics released April 2003 by the American Cancer Society estimate that at least 90,000 cancer deaths annually are attributable to overweight and obesity. Cancers known to be associated with increased body (fat) weight include: breast, prostate, colon, endometrial, and multiple myeloma.
  6. Don’t over-expose yourself. (Avoid environmental exposure to carcinogens).

    Environmental exposure: cancer-causing agents are all around us; most are man-made but some are naturally occurring. Evaluate your surroundings for these known cancer-causing substances:

    A.) Radon: a naturally occurring, odorless gas that comes out of the ground and can infiltrate a house through the basement. If you have a basement in your home, inexpensive tests will tell you if your level is above 4 picocuries per liter (the minimum safe level). Correction is as easy as ensuring adequate ventilation. Radon causes lung cancer.

    B.) Asbestos: Homes built before 1980 may have asbestos insulation. Either leave it alone or have it removed by a qualified contractor. Asbestos causes lung cancer.

    C.) Workplace hazards: If you work with chemicals, including construction materials (paints, thinners, etc.), be sure to wear protective masks, gloves and other clothing. If you are unsure of your exposure, find out what chemicals you are handling and take appropriate precautions.

    D.) Water. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: water is a common source of carcinogens and other disease-causing contaminants. Check your water report yearly. If you use city-supplied water, ask for a water report that will be provided for free. If you use well water, have your water tested annually. Go to www.epa.gov/safewater/faq/sco.html to find a local lab for water testing. Read more about healthy water here.

    E.) Cosmetics: from shampoo to deodorant to face powder, cosmetics contain a wide array of cancer-causing substances. Even BABY SHAMPOOS and creams contain known carcinogens! Evaluate your cosmetic ingredients at this link: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

    F.) Minimize “food hazards,” including antibiotics and hormones in meat and dairy (organic is preferred). “Buy organic” for those fruits and vegetables on “The Dirty Dozen” list (produce that is highest in insecticides, herbicides and other carcinogenic chemicals). Review THE DIRTY DOZEN fruits and vegetables here: http://www.foodnews.org

  7. Eat “Super Foods.” Some foods are healthy, but others are super-healthy. Vegetables including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, onion and garlic contain potent anti-cancer substances. Pacific (wild) salmon and flax seed (and oil) are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seed also contains an anti-cancer form of fiber called lignin. Concentrated tomato products are high in lycopene, a protective carotene. Add these foods to your daily “must have” list of cancer prevention foods.

Estimates suggest that 70-90% of all cancers are preventable by making these few lifestyle changes and taking simple precautions.


References

Exercise:
* Physical activity in the prevention of cancer. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2006 Jan-Mar;7(1):11-21.
* Weight control and physical activity in cancer prevention: international evaluation of the evidence.Eur J Cancer Prev. 2002 Aug;11 Suppl 2:S94-100.
* Physical activity and cancer: lessons learned from nutritional epidemiology.Nutr Rev.2001 Nov;59(11):349-57.
* Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence.CMAJ. 2006 Mar 14;174(6):801-9.
* Associations between physical activity and susceptibility to cancer: possible mechanisms.Sports Med. 1998 Nov;26(5):293-315.
*Physical activity and cancer etiology: associations and mechanisms. Cancer Causes Control. 1998 Oct;9(5):487-509.
* Lifetime physical activity and prostate cancer risk.Int J Cancer. 2005 Apr 20;114(4):639-42.
* Long-term recreational physical activity and risk of invasive and in situ breast cancer: the California teachers study. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Feb 26;167(4):408-15.
* Exercise and colon cancer: primary and secondary prevention. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2007 Apr;6(2):120-4. Links

Spices:
* Botanicals in cancer chemoprevention. Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2002;21(3-4):231-55.
* Curcumin inhibits human colon cancer cell growth by suppressing gene expression of epidermal growth factor receptor through reducing the activity of the transcription factor Egr-1. Oncogene. 2006 Jan 12;25(2):278-87.
* Mechanisms of curcumin- and EGF-receptor related protein (ERRP)-dependent growth inhibition of colon cancer cells.Nutr Cancer. 2006;55(2):185-94.
* Multiple molecular targets in cancer chemoprevention by curcumin. AAPS J. 2006 Jul 7;8(3):E443-9.
* Chemopreventive properties of curcumin. Future Oncol. 2005 Jun;1(3):405-14.
* Garlic-derived organosulfides induce cytotoxicity, apoptosis, cell cycle arrest and oxidative stress in human colon carcinoma cell lines. Neoplasma. 2006;53(3):191-9.
* Differential effects of allyl sulfides from garlic essential oil on cell cycle regulation in human liver tumor cells. Food Chem Toxicol. 2004 Dec;42(12):1937-47.
* Cancer chemoprevention with garlic and its constituents.Cancer Lett. 2007 Mar 18;247(2):167-81. Epub 2006 Jun 21.
* Garlic – A Natural Source of Cancer Preventive Compounds. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2002;3(4):305-311.
* Capsaicin inhibits growth of adult T-cell leukemia cells. Leuk Res. 2003 Mar;27(3):275-83.
* Chemoprotective effects of capsaicin and diallyl sulfide against mutagenesis or tumorigenesis by vinyl carbamate and N-nitrosodimethylamine. Carcinogenesis. 1995 Oct;16(10):2467-71.
* Chemoprotective properties of some pungent ingredients present in red pepper and ginger. Mutat Res. 1998 Jun 18;402(1-2):259-67.
* Anti-tumor-promoting activities of selected pungent phenolic substances present in ginger. J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 1999;18(2):131-9.
* Chemopreventive efficacy of ginger, a naturally occurring anticarcinogen during the initiation, post-initiation stages of 1,2 dimethylhydrazine-induced colon cancer. Clin Chim Acta. 2005 Aug;358(1-2):60-7.
* Effect of dietary caraway (Carum carvi L.) on aberrant crypt foci development, fecal steroids, and intestinal alkaline phosphatase activities in 1,2-dimethylhydrazine-induced colon carcinogenesis. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2006 Aug 1;214(3):290-6. Epub 2006 Feb 17.
* Prevention and therapy of cancer by dietary monoterpenes. J Nutr. 1999 Mar;129(3):775S-778S.
* Citrus peel use is associated with reduced risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. Nutr Cancer. 2000;37(2):161-8.
* Chemoprevention and therapy of cancer by d-limonene. Crit Rev Oncog. 1994;5(1):1-22.
* Chemomodulatory efficacy of basil leaf (Ocimum basilicum) on drug metabolizing and antioxidant enzymes, and on carcinogen-induced skin and forestomach papillomagenesis. Phytomedicine. 2004 Feb;11(2-3):139-51.
* Anticancer and radioprotective potentials of Mentha piperita. Biofactors. 2004;22(1-4):87-91.

Sunshine (vit D)
*Moan, J. & Dahlback, A. The relationship between skin cancers, solar radiation and ozone depletion. British Journal of Cancer, Vol. 65, No. 6, June 1992, pp. 916-21
*Miller, Dena L. & Weinstock, Martin A. Nonmelanoma skin cancer in the United States: incidence. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Vol. 30, No. 5, Pt. 1, May 1994, pp. 774-78
*Garland, Cedric F., et al. Could sunscreens increase melanoma risk? American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 82, No. 4, April 1992, pp. 614-15
* Vitamin D status and cancer: new insights. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2007 Jan;10(1):6-11.
* The epidemiology of vitamin D and colorectal cancer: recent findings. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2006 Jan;22(1):24-9.
* Vitamin D and prevention of breast cancer: pooled analysis. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Mar;103(3-5):708-11.
* Cancer chemoprevention using natural vitamin D and synthetic analogs. Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2001;41:421-42.
* Vitamin D and vitamin D analogs as cancer chemopreventive agents. Nutr Rev. 2003 Jul;61(7):227-38.
* Vitamin D and reduced risk of breast cancer: a population-based case-control study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007 Mar;16(3):422-9.

Smoking
* Cigar smoking in men and risk of death from tobacco-related cancers. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000 Feb 16;92(4):333-7.
* Cigarette smoking and bladder cancer in men: a pooled analysis of 11 case-control studies. Int J Cancer. 2000 Apr 15;86(2):289-94.
* Cigarette smoking, use of other tobacco products and stomach cancer mortality in US adults: The Cancer Prevention Study II. Int J Cancer. 2002 Oct 1;101(4):380-9.
* Cigarette smoking and colorectal cancer mortality in the cancer prevention study II. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000 Dec 6;92(23):1888-96.
* Smokeless and other noncigarette tobacco use and pancreatic cancer: a case-control study based on direct interviews.Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Jan;13(1):55-8.
* Lung cancer among cigar and pipe smokers.Prev Med. 1988 Jan;17(1):116-28.
* Risk of bladder cancer by source and type of tobacco exposure: a case-control study. Int J Cancer. 1989 Oct 15;44(4):622-8.
* Tobacco use in relation to renal cell carcinoma. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1998 May;7(5):429-33.
* Cigarette smoking and cervical cancer: Part I: a meta-analysis.Biomed Pharmacother. 2003 Mar;57(2):67-77.
* Passive cigarette smoking is a risk factor in cervical neoplasia. Gynecol Oncol. 2004 Apr;93(1):116-20.
* Can the number of cigarettes smoked predict high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia among women with mildly abnormal cervical smears? Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1998 Aug;179(2):399-402.
* Active and passive cigarette smoking and the risk of cervical neoplasia. Obstet Gynecol. 2005 Jan;105(1):174-81.
* The fragile histidine triad gene: a molecular link between cigarette smoking and cervical cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Aug 15;11(16):5756-63.

Weight:
* Epidemiology and pathophysiology of obesity as cause of cancer.Swiss Med Wkly. 2007 Jan 27;137(3-4):50-6.
* Obesity and cancer. Oncogene. 2004 Aug 23;23(38):6365-78.Summary: colon, female breast (postmenopausal), endometrium, kidney (renal cell), and esophagus (adenocarcinoma).
* Overweight as an avoidable cause of cancer in Europe. Int J Cancer. 2001 Feb 1;91(3):421-30.
* Risk factors for breast cancer in elderly women.Am J Epidemiol. 2004 Nov 1;160(9):868-75.
* Anthropometric characteristics and risk of multiple myeloma. Epidemiology. 2005 Sep;16(5):691-4.
* Obesity, adipokines, and prostate cancer (review). Int J Oncol. 2006 Mar;28(3):737-45.
* Obesity and colorectal cancer: epidemiology, mechanisms and candidate genes. J Nutr Biochem. 2006 Mar;17(3):145-56. Epub 2005 Oct 27.
* Association of incident carcinoma of the endometrium with body weight and fat distribution in older women: early findings of the Iowa Women’s Health Study.Cancer Res. 1989 Dec 1;49(23):6828-31.
* Body size and breast cancer risk: findings from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer And Nutrition (EPIC).Int J Cancer. 2004 Sep 20;111(5):762-71.

Environmental Toxins
* Lung cancer risk associated to exposure to radon and smoking in a case-control study of French uranium miners.Health Phys. 2007 Apr;92(4):371-8.
* Asbestos-related lung disease. Am Fam Physician. 2007 Mar 1;75(5):683-8.
* Worker exposure and health risks from volatile organic compounds utilized in the paint manufacturing industry of Kenya. Appl Occup Environ Hyg. 2001 Nov;16(11):1035-42.
* Drinking water and cancer incidence in Iowa. III. Association of cancer with indices of contamination. Am J Epidemiol. 1985 Jun;121(6):856-69.
* Tetrachloroethylene-contaminated drinking water in Massachusetts and the risk of colon-rectum, lung, and other cancers. Environ Health Perspect. 1999 Apr;107(4):265-71.
* EWG’s interactive product safety guide to find cosmetics free of cancer-causing impurities.
* From Campaign for Safe Cosmetics – Read about Dr. David Steinman’s new product tests for a cancer-causing impurity [PDF] called 1,4-dioxane, including tests of children’s products.
* Branched fatty acids in dairy and beef products markedly enhance alpha-methylacyl-CoA racemase expression in prostate cancer cells in vitro. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2003 Aug;12(8):775-83.
* Estrogen: one of the risk factors in milk for prostate cancer. Med Hypotheses. 2004;62(1):133-42.
* The possible role of female sex hormones in milk from pregnant cows in the development of breast, ovarian and corpus uteri cancers. Med Hypotheses. 2005;65(6):1028-37. Epub 2005 Aug 24.
* Diet and cancer prevention: where we are, where we are going. Nutr Cancer. 2006;56(2):225-31.
* Dietary isothiocyanate iberin inhibits growth and induces apoptosis in human glioblastoma cells. J Pharmacol Sci. 2007 Feb;103(2):247-51.
* Tea and lycopene protect against prostate cancer. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2007;16 Suppl 1:453-7.
* A prospective study of dietary flavonoid intake and incidence of epithelial ovarian cancer. Int J Cancer. 2007 Apr 30; [Epub ahead of print].
* Nutrition and cancer: the current epidemiological evidence. Br J Nutr. 2006 Aug;96 Suppl 1:S42-5.

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