By Kebbie Stine, MNT
It is estimated by the American Cancer Society that in 2018 there will be nearly two million diagnosed cancer cases, and of those 609,640 will result in death. One out of every four people are likely to be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime. These are scary statistics…but we have the power to change these numbers! Even if you have a genetic predisposition to certain cancers, it is now known that we can overwrite the way our genes switch on and off; in fact, only five percent of cancer cases can be attributed directly to heredity. Epigenetics is the alteration of genetic sequencing by environmental factors and is involved with activating or deactivating certain DNA mechanisms. Epigenetics is influenced by everything; what we eat, how we sleep, how much we exercise, where we live, who we interact with, and how we think (glass half empty vs glass half full). YOU are in control of your health, not your genetic inheritance.
Up until the 20thcentury, diet was the foundation of medical treatment, not pharmaceuticals. Today gardens have been cemented over and too much of our food comes from a big box store in convenient packaging. We are overworked, overstressed, and overweight. In the face of such a formidable adversary as cancer, it is time to take a good look at how we got here and what we can do to change the outcome. Through nutrition and lifestyle, we can alter the genetic blueprint not only of ourselves, but of future generations as well!
Prevention and Treatment of Cancer
“Let food be thy medicine.” -Hippocrates
- Clean up your diet by focusing on fresh whole foods in their natural unprocessed state.
- Fill your plate with brightly colored fruits and vegetables as they contain antioxidants, substances that inhibit cellular oxidation and therefore DNA damage. Berries, dark leafy greens, and dark chocolate are among the highest in antioxidants.
- Drink green tea daily. Green tea contains catechins, a class of antioxidants known as polyphenols, that may protect cells from DNA damage, help to strengthen the immune system and activate enzymes that curb tumor growth.
- Incorporate foods like broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower into your diet. Cruciferous vegetables support the liver to filter toxins out of the body.
- Look for pastured, grass-fed animal products. Not only do animals that graze produce a more nutrient rich product, but they are less likely to be treated with hormones, antibiotics, and fed pesticide laden food.
- Choose organic produce. Organic foods are free of harmful chemicals that cause cellular damage and tax the liver. The Environmental Working Group has produced a list of foods to always buy organic and those which are safe to buy conventional.
- Drink lots of filtered water every day. Unfiltered tap water contains disinfectant chemicals like chlorine and chloramines that kill beneficial bacteria in your gut; added fluoride damages the thyroid gland.
Lifestyle factors play a crucial role in cancer prevention:
- Exercise regularly to support your immune system, reduce inflammation, balance the hormones that influence certain cancers, and alleviate stress.
- Find ways to reduce stress and support emotional balance, both chronic stress and depression have been linked to cancer. This could be meditation, yoga, getting outside in nature, or regular social interactions with people you enjoy.
- Reduce your chemical exposure by switching to natural household cleaners and personal care products, avoid synthetic fragrance from air fresheners and scented candles, take shoes off upon entering your house, and avoids plastics when possible by using glass or metal water bottles and containers.
- Aim to get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, sleep is crucial for overall health.
Sources: Sources: CDC: Cancer Facts and Figures, January 4, 2018; A World Without Cancer: The Making of a New Cure and the Real Promise of Prevention, by Margaret I. Cuomo, MD (Rodale, 2012);The Biology of Belief, by Brusce H. Lipton, 2005; www.curetoday.com
Kebbie Stine is a Master Nutrition Therapist in the Denver area. She practices nutrition therapy at Washington Park Chiropractic, All Around Health, and is the owner of Whole Choice Nutrition Therapy. Contact Kebbie at [email protected]