Despite millions of dollars filtered each year into cancer research, the development of new drugs and treatments the incidences of cancer continue to rise. As well, the occurrences of certain cancers like breast cancer are seen in women younger and younger each year. There are many uncontrollable factors that contribute to the development of cancer such as environmental pollutants and genetic predisposition. However, there are many more factors that are affected by choices we make everyday that can nourish our bodies and help our immune systems fight off cancer and starve potential cancer cells.
According to Dr. Christine Horner author of Waking the Warrior Goddess, reducing your risk may be easier than you think. According to Dr. Horner “If you have a terrible diet and lifestyle and you do just one thing, you cut your risk in half. You do more than one thing and they will multiply up together. They don’t add up together. They multiply up together, so it becomes extremely easy to dramatically lower your risk of breast cancer.” Dr. Horner is an expert in breast cancer, but her healthy living principles can be applied to the prevention of other forms of cancer as well.
Diet is one of the most important factors to consider in cancer prevention. We must focus not only on what we put on our plate, but also what we leave off. Processed foods, refined sugars and artificial sweeteners are some of the worst offenders and should be the first to go. There are however many “hidden” sources of cancer causing agents in our foods according to Dr. Horner. Animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO’s) are given antibiotics, growth hormones, veterinary drugs and are exposed to confined situation that raise stress hormones (cortisol) in their bodies. These hormones and medications are then stored in their tissues, consumption of the meat then exposes our bodies to these substances. Exposure to growth hormone and cortisol in this form has been theorized to be one of the reasons we see earlier and earlier onset of puberty in adolescence and a rise in incidence of hormone sensitive cancers such as breast, prostate and colon cancer.
Eating meat, however, is very healthy for your body. In order to avoid exposure to unwanted medications and hormones that comes with the consumption of CAFO meat choose organically-raised, grass-fed meat or wild game. We are lucky to live in an area of the country where these healthy alternatives are readily available.
Many of the toxins mentioned earlier that are found in CAFO meat tends to concentrate in the fatty tissue of animals. However, bad fats can come from other places as well. In cancer development and prevention the type of fat you eat is an essential factor to consider. Hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated oils or trans-fats are some of the worst offenders in the development of chronic diseases such as cancer. Trans-fats are polyunsaturated vegetable oils (good oils) that have been hydrogenated/processed to make them remain solid at room temperature. Trans fats are also formed when polyunsaturated vegetable oils (olive, sunflower and safflower oil) are exposed to high heat.
Trans fats do their damage when they become incorporated into our cell membranes, the gateway that lets good nutrition in and waste out. Trans fats cause our cells to become leaky and distorted, causing vitamin and mineral deficiencies and predispose these cells to becoming cancerous.
Healthy fats are extremely important for cancer prevention as they keep the cell membranes or the gatekeepers strong. Healthy cell membranes allow for proper elimination of waste from the cell and allow good nutrition in. Healthy cell membranes are the basis of healthy cells, healthy tissues and cancer prevention. Omega-3 fats are essential for healthy cell membranes and can be found in tuna, sardines, salmon, trout, and mackerel, flaxseeds, walnuts, olive oil and eggs.
If you are serious about cancer prevention the avoidance of sugar is essential. Sugar is a very simple, easy form of fuel for our bodies. Cancer cells that are growing at a very rapid rate require a lot of energy and sugar is their food of choice. Avoiding refined sugars such as candy and soda is important. Avoiding diets high in grains and carbohydrates which break down into sugar should also be limited or avoided.
There are many foods to remove from your plate to help prevent cancer, in their place you can add wonderful, tasty cancer fighting foods. According to Dr. Horner, “Plants are packed full of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are crucial for good health. They also have hundreds of phytochemicals in them. These don’t have any nutritional or caloric value, but they are like natural medicines, and some of them behave exactly like chemotherapy”.
The cruciferous vegetables are cancer prevention powerhouses. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts contain a special substance called indole-3-carbinol. Indol-3-carbinol is very effective in helping the liver clear toxins and excess hormones. It has been shown in studies to have significant anti-cancer properties especially for hormone sensitive cancers such as breast, prostate, and colon cancer.
Flax seeds stand out as another super food for cancer prevention. Flax seeds have been shown to prevent cancer in many different ways, some of which are the exact same as the anti-cancer drug Tamoxifen and Arimidex.
More and more research is emerging about Vitamin D and its role in the strengthening the immune system and preventing cancer. It has been shown that you can decrease your risk of cancer by MORE THAN HALF simply by optimizing your vitamin D levels (blood levels around 80-90 ng/ml). Vitamin D has been found to offer protection from cancer by regulating genetic expression, increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells, reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells and encouraging cells to become differentiated.
With the rise in incidences of cancer it is time to take control of your health and begin starving cancer cells and nourish healthy ones. Avoid cancer-promoting foods such as bad fats, artificial sweeteners and sugar. Begin feeding your body with wonderful, nourishing, nutrient dense food. When filling your plate with these wonderful cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables it is ideal to choose locally grown, organic varieties. Making good, healthy choices can go a long way in helping prevent cancer!!