Facts About Cancer - How diet, exercise, and lifestyle might cut the risks of cancer
It's easy to become overwhelmed when looking online for facts about cancer. Cancer isn't usually a subject that you spend time browsing for without a specific reason. If someone you know or is close to you has been diagnosed or is being treated, you probably want to be well informed so you can understand their situation better.
The following information, and facts about cancer have kindly been provided exclusively by Dr Jill Jones.
Dr Jill Jones Mb ChB is a GMC registered doctor. Dr Jones is currently creating a free medical information website. A link to her site will become available at a future date.
There is an increasing understanding in the medical world of how lifestyle factors might either contribute to, cause or promote cancer.
Scientists studying cancer initiation suggest that of the many millions of cells in our body some lose the ability to act normally; they start to divide and grow without control. If unrestricted they are able to change their local environment producing extra blood vessels to help supply them with essential energy and nutrients.
However, specialists also think that the majority of such episodes are sorted out at an early stage by our natural body defences which kill off the abnormal cells. But high levels of dietary sugar [unrefined] and fat [hydrogenated fats and an excess of Omega-6] are thought to deplete the natural defence mechanisms of the body.
Periods of psychological stress are also considered to reduce the activity of the immune system and tissue repair, allowing the abnormal cells to continue to grow.
Facts About Cancer - Breast Cancer
Some years ago it was noted that the incidence of breast cancer was much lower in women living in Asia. However, for those women who migrated to high risk countries such as the USA the risk typically increased with rapidly rising rates of breast cancer, suggesting a strong effect of lifestyle or environmental factors. It was also noted that many of those migrants had adopted a western diet once settled in their new country.
Obesity is an important risk factor in death rates for postmenopausal women with breast cancer. This is because many breast cancers are promoted by the female hormone oestrogen. Before the menopause the majority of oestrogen is produced by the ovaries.
However, body fat can also produce oestrogen and this becomes much more significant once ovarian function ceases after the menopause. It has been said that about 15000 deaths from breast cancer in postmenopausal women in the USA each year could be prevented if those women had maintained a healthy BMI of under 25 throughout their life.
Facts About Cancer - Bowel Cancer
Eight years ago a large medical study found that physical exercise reduced the risk of bowel cancer by about 50%. Even moderate exercise, such as 3 hours of brisk walking per week, was considered to be effective.
It has been harder to quantify the effect of diet on the risk of bowel cancer. Obesity certainly appears to be a risk factor, and a diet high in fibre has been shown to be beneficial in some studies.
Initially the reason for the benefits of fibre was thought to be related to the faster transit of toxins through the gastro-intestinal tract. However, more recently consideration has been given to the nature of many high fibre foods (such as fruit and vegetables) which include other protective substances such as folate and other vitamins.
It was also noted that people consuming high fibre diets tended to eat less red meat, drink less alcohol, smoke less, and get more regular exercise – all healthy behaviors thought to reduce cancer risk.
Facts About Cancer - Prostate Cancer
Research has shown that certain aspects of diet may influence the risk of developing prostate cancer. A high intake of dairy products has been associated with an increased risk of developing prostate cancer, probably by reducing the level of protective vitamin D.
Conversely a high intake of foods containing fructose (fruits and vegetables), which increase the level of vitamin D, was associated with a lower risk of serious problems. Dietary lycopene is also associated with a low risk. Lycopene is found in tomatoes.
A 30 year study revealed that men who ate large amounts of fatty fish, such as salmon, herring and mackerel which contain Omega-3 fatty acids, had a 2-3 times lower risk of developing prostate cancer than men who ate no fish.
The figures for rates of prostate cancer in Asian countries when compared to western countries, such as the USA, mirror the figures for breast cancer. Incidence in America being around 15 times higher. Again the common factor of a low fat diet in the East is thought to be significant, together with fish in the diet.
(Ladies, these are important facts about cancer which may affect your partner or male friends)
So What Can You Do?
In a recent study, researchers found that people who eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and watch their weight cut their risk of developing any of the twelve most common cancers by one third.
A healthy lifestyle also includes not smoking and limiting alcohol intake. Non-smokers automatically decrease their risk for cancer by one third.
Facts About Cancer - Drink Green Tea
A powerful antioxidant which helps the liver to eliminate cancerous toxins from the body.Contains polyphenols which reduce the growth of the new blood vessels needed for cancer cell growth.
Facts About Cancer - Avoid Hydrogenated Fats [and partially hydrogenated and trans fats]
Hydrogenation uses a nickel catalyst to make liquid oils solid (margarines) or more stable with a much increased shelf life. Hydrogenated fats are widespread in many processed foods and commonly used cooking oils.For cooking try substituting olive oil, grapeseed oil or sesame oil.
Facts About Cancer - Increase Your Consumption of Omega-3 Fats
These are the healthiest fats and are essential to human health. During the last century intake of Omega fats has become unbalanced moving towards dominance of the less healthy Omega 6, partly because foods containing Omega 3 are generally more expensive and fish based.
Add oily fish [salmon, sardines, herrings, mackerel and trout] to the diet 2-3 times each week.Include other Omega 3 rich foods [spinach, walnuts, flaxseed oil and linseed oil].
Facts About Cancer - Use Cruciferous Vegetable
Cabbages, sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower contain powerful anti-cancer molecules. However, prolonged heat can destroy these protective substances – so try a quick stir fry or light steaming.
Include Fruits and Vegetables
Generally the bright, red/orange coloured fruits and vegetables contain vitamin A and lycopene which inhibit the growth of cancers.Add carrots, bell peppers, yams, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes, apricots and beetroot to your dietary intake.
Facts About Cancer - Use Herbs and Spices
Add turmeric to your recipes. Studies have shown it to reduce tumour growth. For best results turmeric should be combined with black pepper and oil, but not overheated during cooking.Certain herbs [particularly rosemary, thyme and oregano] contain essential oils of the tarpene group which can help reduce the spread of cancer cells.
Facts About Cancer - Include the Onion Family
Garlic, onions and leeks have been found to assist with the destruction of cancer cells most notably those in the bowel and breast.
None of this information means that advice from your doctor regarding diagnosis, or treatment of cancer should be ignored. Rather it suggests some ways in which you can improve your own health risks both before and after a diagnosis of cancer.
Many thanks to Dr Jones for her assistance in contributing some important facts about cancer.
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