What would you be willing to do to have an extra day, month, or years with your loved ones?

Each year we take a break from the science of education and update you on two devastating diseases likely to impact you and/or your loved ones.

This month it is cancer; July will be about Alzheimer’s disease.

You need to know how to protect yourself and your family from cancer. Mostly because you CAN! Yes, most cancers are preventable and I’ll tell you how.

DISCLAIMER: Before I begin any comments about health, I am required by law to make a disclaimer: “The following comments are not meant to diagnose or treat any disease, nor have they been approved by the FDA.” (By the way, an oncologist would have to make the same disclaimer.)

The Research

Cancer continues to be the #2 cause of death, next to #1 heart disease. This is disturbing considering how much money is spent on cancer research every year. In fact, when I type “cancer” into one of my favorite medical research engines I can find over 72,000 NEW research articles on cancer published in 2018 ALONE. And we are only halfway through the year! That is over 400 articles being published EVERY DAY just about cancer.

Scientists are learning a tremendous amount about cancer every day. But then why does the World Health Organization predict cancer incidents will more than DOUBLE in the next two decades? How is it that more than 14 MILLION people will receive a cancer diagnosis this year? I’ll tell you.

One explanation is that a lot of people aren’t paying attention to what the research is saying. Instead, they are relying on outdated assumptions or results from bad research that somehow got too much publicity.

For example, many believe that cancer is hereditary, or just a result of really bad luck. Turns out genetics and “bad luck” account for a very small percentage of all cancer diagnoses. Most cancers (depending on which type) have a shockingly low 2-10% heritability.

In fact, did you know that the heritability of breast cancer from your mother is a shockingly low 1.8%? This might sound surprisingly low. Let me explain how we might get fooled into thinking it is genetic, but in fact, it is a slew of environmental factors creating familial trends (Anand, et al., 2008).

Girls often grow up in the same house as their mother. They eat the same kinds of foods, breathe the same air, and get exposed to the same molds, toxins and noise stress. They might use the same cleaning products (bleaches, sprays, toxins, etc.), the same personal care products (creams, hair color, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.) and they can take on similar beliefs and attitudes. In short, females are often immersed in their mom’s environment. Because this is the environment they grow up in, they often continue these habits into adulthood. It is these lifestyle choices and environmental factors that lead to most familial trends in breast cancer, NOT genetics.

This is actually great news! This means that you and I have a CHOICE, to a large degree, when it comes to cancer. The majority of all CANCERS ARE PREVENTABLE! Then why are we still losing the war on cancer? Because some people (NOT you) are unwilling to make the adjustments to their lifestyle and environment to PREVENT most cancers.

Prevention is the way to go for many reasons. Typical cancer treatments are expensive and often painful. Although there are some new and promising alternatives, the most common ways cancer is treated are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. These require you to be cut open, poisoned, or burned, respectively. So, if some of the lifestyle changes outlined below sound unpleasant, just remember your alternatives.

Here are 5 lifestyle adjustments you can make to protect yourself from cancer. I think you’ll be surprised to learn how much money you are spending on things that are putting you at a GREATER RISK of cancer.

Five Ways To Save $$$ While Building
A Forcefield Against Cancer

1. Stop putting toxins IN your body
Below are some of the more common toxins you might be putting IN your body. Each one directly increases your risk of cancer. Which one is the easiest for you to eliminate (or at least reduce drastically) from your diet?

  • Tobacco – Using tobacco increases your risk of developing at least 14 types of cancer. It also accounts for about 25–30% of all deaths from cancer and 87% of deaths from lung cancer (Anand et al., 2008). If you have a habit of smoking, seek help and make a positive change in your life. You are worth it. Check out www.smokefree.gov for some extra support. And if you are wondering, e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and water pipes (or bongs) may also cause cancer.
  • Excessive alcohol – Are you part of the 70% of Americans that do not recognize alcohol consumption as a risk factor for cancer? If so, consider yourself now informed (Heymach et al., 2018). If you are having more than 2-4 drinks a WEEK, you might want to consider cutting back. Like most things, a little bit probably isn’t going to hurt you but too much is putting you at greater risk.
  • Sugar (candy, soda, sugary flavored coffees, baked goods, etc.) – Cancer LOVES sugar. It feeds off of it, literally, and helps the cancer to grow. Did you know doctors give patients pure glucose linked to a radioactive dye to locate tumors in the body? Those sugar-loving cancer cells, suck up the sugary marker and thus glow brighter than the other tissue, helping the scanning device to see the cancer cells.
  • White bread and white rice – These (along with sugar) all raise your blood sugar levels, and you produce extra insulin in the pancreas. (Asians have a gene that prevents this.) Diabetes is a known dietary cancer risk (Anand, Nath & Saraswathy, 2014).

All of the substances listed above are addictive substances. Therefore, cutting them from your diet will not be as easy as cutting Brussels sprouts, even though it could potentially save you hundreds of dollars a month. I’m not going try to tell you it will be easy to stop smoking, give up soda or your morning sugary cup of joe, or whatever your favorite vice is. It will be hard.

But you know how to do hard things. You do it every day. You are a teacher! Every day you do things much harder than say NO to something listed above. Harness your teacher superpowers and take care of your body.

2. Stop putting toxins ON your body

Do NOT rely on the government to tell you what you eat (the food pyramid changes every few years and it’s still wrong) or to help you make safe choices for you. PAY attention to the ingredients that interact with your body, especially shampoo, hair conditioner, hair coloring products, deodorant, face cleaning products, soaps and makeup products.

Stop buying things that contain “Parabens.” They’re a family of chemicals used in various personal care products and have long been linked to cancer. They disrupt estrogen function (Harvey, 2003). As an alternative, buy from the companies Arm & Hammer (“Essentials Natural Deodorant”) and Tom’s (“Natural Deodorant” and toothpaste) who both sell healthy products. You’ve just started to lower your risks.

One-time usage does not put you at risk. But using slightly dangerous products over time is a higher-risk behavior. You can save yourself a lot of money by eliminating toxic products that don’t fall in the “need” category as well.

The Food and Drug Administration has been sitting on damning evidence from government research studies since July 2009, showing over 80% of all sunscreen products contain known carcinogens, Sen. Chuck Schumer revealed almost 10 years ago. We’ll get to what to avoid in just a moment.

3. Reduce your stress

What does your stress level have to do with cancer? More than you might think. Chronic stress impairs your body’s capacity to fight inflammation. If you are an over-scheduled adult, or have an over-scheduled child, do yourself a favor and aim to under-schedule yourself and your family. Cut back on an activity or two. Not only will this save you more money, but it will create space and time in your life for things that will contribute to your cancer force field:

  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Breathing exercising
  • Appreciating nature
  • Spending time with loved ones
  • Mindfulness

4. Exercise

Researchers have long linked exercise with lower breast cancer risk for women past menopause, believing it works partly by lowering the estrogen levels. Higher estrogen levels can raise breast cancer risk. Find a physical activity you love and commit to doing it 3-6 times a week for at least 20 minutes (Dallal et al., 2012).

And then consider some of these other habits that could help you move your body more:

  • If it’s 1-3 floors in a building, take the stairs down to the lobby.
  • Instead of driving around for an extra 3 minutes waiting for the best parking spot to come available, spend those minutes walking the parking lot.
  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator at the mall or airport. My rule of thumb is unless I’m carrying more than 20 lbs, take the stairs!

5. Get your vitamin D

The most common cause of skin cancer is the sun. You probably already knew that.

You probably also know that vitamin D (that you get from the sun) is great for your physical and emotional health. So, what is one to do? Stay out of the sun? Go out in the sun? Read on – I’ll tell you

There’s no risk of skin cancer at short exposures (15 minutes or less) and a HUGE upside. The Vitamin D helps facilitate healing from illnesses and helps metabolize the potassium and calcium needed for strong bones (Lappe, Travers-Gustafson, Davies, Recker, & Heaney, 2007). If you want to stay outside longer, do intervals of sun, then shade. It is the continuous sun exposure that stacks up the radiation, not the intervals.

When you use sunscreen, use the lowest number that can work for you. Most people think they’re protecting themselves better by using a higher numbered sunscreen. But the higher the number, the more risk you’re taking with toxic chemicals.

The higher SPF is also a waste of money… Sunscreens with SPF 8 block 87% of UVB rays (the ones that burn your skin). SPF 30 blocks 97%. SPF 100 sunscreens block 99%. In any case, read the ingredients on what you buy.
Certain sunscreen ingredients may be potentially carcinogenic or have other health risks (anything with oxybenzone, benzophenone, octocrylene, or octylmethoxycinnamate.)

Please be a healthy label-reader: Avoid personal care products with retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone.

Please do not buy products that may increase cancer risk. And remember, a little sun is good; too much is dangerous.

How to spend the money you just saved?

With the adjustments above, you can potentially save yourself hundreds of dollars a month. With that extra money, might I suggest a few things to stock your fridge and shelves with to help prevent cancer:

  • Foods packed with antioxidants: Antioxidants include enzymes or other organic substances, such as sunlight, vitamin or food sources that are capable of counteracting the damaging effects of oxidation. Stock up on sweet potatoes, watermelon, colored berries (like blueberries… frozen is OK), cold water (NOT farm raised) fatty fish (like salmon), colorful vegetables (such as peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, etc.), green tea, olive oil, coffee, dark chocolate (60-65% is best), plain Greek yogurt, mangos, and papayas.
  • Folic acid: Folic acid is known to reduce cancer risks. That includes the following dark greens (in order): spinach, collard, turnip and mustard greens, broccoli and asparagus, papaya, beans, peas, lentils and avocado (Willett, 2006). When you slowly reduce, and then eliminate the products made by humans (chips, cookies, bread, candies, etc.) and focus on nature-made foods, health often improves. Keep in mind, if it’s dark and bitter, it’s better for your body.
  • Curcumin: Turmeric’s active compound is a yellow spice, called curcumin. This spice is commonly used in Indian foods. In one recent study, two researchers concluded, “Curcumin can selectively modulate multiple cell signaling pathways linked to inflammation and to the survival, growth, invasion, angiogenesis, and metastasis of cancer cells.” (Hasima & Aggarwal, 2016).  Studies have shown that curcumin even kills cancer stem cells, the “mother” cells that control the growth and spread of cancer cell colonies (Prasad, 2015). You can buy curcumin capsules in most drug stores and supermarkets. I buy mine from Amazon (VitaLabs as Curcumin C3 Complex).
  • Graviola: Annona Muricata (also known as Soursop, Graviola, and guanabana), is an amazing evergreen plant found in tropical and subtropical climates. Multiple studies have substantiated its effects as being anticancer, anticonvulsant, anti-arthritic, antiparasitic, hepatoprotective and antidiabetic. This fruit extract may be purchased from Amazon as Biotech Nutritions Graviola (Paul, Gnanam, Jayadeepa, Arul, 2013; Antony, Vijayan, 2016; Moghadamtousi, Fadaeinasab, Nikzad, Mohan, Ali, Kadir, 2015).

Cancer prevention requires serious lifestyle commitments to healthy living. Those changes include smoking cessation, increased ingestion of fruits and vegetables, moderate-low use of alcohol, caloric restriction, sufficient exercise, avoidance of over-exposure to sunlight, minimal meat consumption, use of whole grains, and use of vaccinations, getting sufficient vitamin D, avoiding toxic personal care products, cutting the sugar, use of curcumin, Graviola, and getting regular check-ups with fewer radiation doses.

That’s a lot.

So, first, take a moment and acknowledge yourself for whichever of these are already a part of your personal lifestyle. You are already helping your body stay cancer free. Now, pick one area you know you can improve on. Make a change and stick with it. When it becomes a comfortable habit, make another improvement. You are worth it!

The Biggest news in cancer TREATMENT for 2017-18

The most promising breakthroughs in cancer treatment revolve around gene editing, immunotherapy, and proton therapy.

Gene editing is maturing. You may have heard of the gene-editing technique simply called CRISPR. It works like a pair of scissors to cut DNA, inserting or reordering bits of genetic code with remarkable, science-fiction-like results: CRISPR can help create mosquitoes that don’t transmit malaria, or be used in humans, to battle 50 untreatable diseases, including cancer. How? You can remove the patients’ immune cells, edit the genes, and reinsert the weaponized cells into the body to hunt and kill cancer. This is not science fiction; it has already succeeded in test patients.

Another option is immunotherapy, which “activates” certain parts of your immune system to fight disease. Immune cells cruise around your body looking for “foreign molecules”. Once they find these foreigners, a certain class of immune cells (cytotoxic T cells) attack and eliminate the foreigners. Unfortunately, cancer has several ways it can hide from immune cells. However, scientists have discovered ways to genetically re-engineer a patient’s immune T cells to detect the previously hidden cancer cells. The game of hide and seek is over.

But, there’s a glitch. Making immune-cell treatments for every patient is expensive and time-consuming. Commonly, doctors can’t use a patient’s own T cells because there are not enough healthy ones for them to tinker with. Instead, they use someone else’s. This increases time and expense. So while it shows promise, immunotherapy has some limitations.

Proton therapy is essentially an improved form of radiation. At high energy, protons (positively charged particles) can destroy cancer cells. Traditional radiation treatment has been shown to be quite successful, but at the cost of damaging healthy tissue near the cancerous tumor. This can create additional health challenges. With proton therapy, radiation can be deposited directly in the tumor without exposing nearby healthy tissue with the radiation.

The world of science is making progress with cancer treatments. It is time for YOU to do your part and make progress with cancer preventions. How can you help yourself? Take hold of your health and commit to making at least one change today.

Eric Jensen
CEO, Jensen Learning
Brain-Based Education

CITATIONS:

Anand, P., Kunnumakkara, A. B., Sundaram, C., Harikumar, K. B., Tharakan, S. T., Lai, O. S., . . . Aggarwal, B. B. (2008). Cancer is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes. Pharmaceutical Research, 25, 2200-2200.

Anand, S., Nath, B., & Saraswathy, R. (2014). Diabetes – Increased Risk for Cancers through Chromosomal Aberrations? Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, 15, 4571-4573.

Dallal CM, Brinton LA, Matthews CE, Lissowska J, Peplonska B, Hartman TJ, Gierach GL. (2012) Accelerometer-based measures of active and sedentary behavior in relation to breast cancer risk. Breast Cancer Res Treat.134, 1279-90.

Giovannucci, E. (2009). Vitamin D and Cancer Incidence in the Harvard Cohorts. Annals of Epidemiology, 19, 84-88.

Harvey, P. W. (2003). Parabens, oestrogenicity, underarm cosmetics and breast cancer: A perspective on a hypothesis. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 23, 285-288.

Hasima N, Aggarwal BB. (2016). Cancer-linked targets modulated by curcumin. International Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 2012;3(4):328-51.

Heymach, J., Krilov, L., Alberg, A., Baxter, N., Chang, S. M., Corcoran, R., . . . Burstein, H. (2018). Clinical Cancer Advances 2018: Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer From the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Journal of Clinical Oncology,36, 1020-1044.

Lappe, J. M., Travers-Gustafson, D., Davies, K. M., Recker, R. R., & Heaney, R. P. (2007). Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: Results of a randomized trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85, 1586-1591.

Moghadamtousi, S., Fadaeinasab, M., Nikzad, S., Mohan, G., Ali, H., & Kadir, H. (2015). Annona muricata (Annonaceae): A Review of Its Traditional Uses, Isolated Acetogenins and Biological Activities. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 16, 15625-15658.

Paul, J., Gnanam, R., Jayadeepa, R., & Arul, L. (2013). Anti Cancer Activity on Graviola, an Exciting Medicinal Plant Extract vs Various Cancer Cell Lines and a Detailed Computational Study on its Potent Anti-Cancerous Leads. Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry, 13, 1666-1673.

Prasad, A. K. (2015). Molecular Targets of Curcumin: A Potential Magic Bullet for Health. Molecular Biology, 04(01).

Willett, W. C. (2006). Diet and Nutrition. Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, 405-421.