Annual Updated Health Issue:
Below you’ll find seven changes you can make to save your life or extend it! You may be concerned about the “big two” killers of cancer and Alzheimer’s. We’ll focus on cancer and the our next post will be (again) on Alzheimer’s.
By the way, every year these suggestions get so many rave reviews that they are re-sent, forwarded and “re-gifted.” Feel free to do so this year, as well.
The first change will reduce your risk of cancer. A recent study shows that…
The Research: Seven Changes to Save Your Life
This year, more than 1 million Americans are expected to be diagnosed with cancer, a disease commonly believed to be preventable. Most of us fear the killer word ‘cancer’, but very few of all cancers are due to heredity (2008). In fact, the contribution of genetic factors and environmental factors towards cancer risk is surprising. Cancers (depending on which type) have a low 2-10% heritability. The other risk area, at a massive 90-95%, are environmental factors. Let’s look at environmental factors in this newsletter.
1. Eat more of the foods packed with anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants are in the group of super foods to choose from that reduce or repair damage from free radicals. Choose any foods from these groups. If you dislike five of them, eat the ones you do like. To get any value at all, eat something from this group 4-5 days a week. Eating these once a month or once a week is a joke; you’re kidding yourself if you think your body will change from a 3 oz. per month exposure.
Here’s the list: sweet potatoes, watermelon, colored berries like blueberries (frozen is OK), cold water 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. If you like fish, great! If you like pork or red meat, eat more from the healthier range-fed animals.
2. Put fewer toxic products into / onto your body. Please start reading the labels of what you put into and on your body. The products that absolutely MUST be safe for your body are the ones that you either ingest or put on your skin regularly. This means PAY attention to the ingredients that interact with your body, especially shampoo, conditioner, hair coloring products, deodorant, face cleaning products, soaps and makeup products. One time usage does not put you at risk. But using a dangerous underarm deodorant 3 inches from your breasts, or a risky shampoo for forty years is a higher-risk behavior.
For example, avoid the “Parabens.” They’re a family of chemicals used in various personal-care products and have long been linked to cancer. They disrupt estrogen function. As an alternative, the companies Arm & Hammer (“Essentials Natural Deodorant”) and Tom’s (Tom’s Natural Deodorant) both sell healthy products. You’ve just started to lower your risks!
Most of the 500 most popular sunscreen products may actually increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer. Consumer Reports magazine said that only 39 of the 500 products they examined were considered safe and effective to use. Some sunscreen ingredients (anything with oxybenzone, benzophenone, octocrylene, or octyl methoxycinnamate) may be potentially carcinogenic or have other health risks. Read the label: avoid personal care products with retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone.
DO GET 10-20 minutes of sun a day, if possible. Vitamin D is very good for you. BUT, if you want to stay out longer, do intervals of sun, then shade. The product I buy (from Amazon) and use is: Beyond Coastal Active Sunscreen SPF 34. Please do not buy or use cheap products that may increase cancer risk.
3. Eat less of the “slow risk” foods. You won’t die from these this week, but over the long haul, they’re not good. Three of the worst offenders are “the whites.” They are white sugar, white rice, and white bread (all are “high glycemic index” foods). They boost your blood sugar levels TOO high and you produce extra insulin in the pancreas.
Any product you buy that has more than five ingredients is suspect. Any product that has ingredients that you can’t pronounce is suspect. I always get asked, “Don’t you ever eat junk food, like chips?” Sure, some are actually pretty decent. I like Fritos corn chips and a few other brands of chips are also healthy. Do you think healthier foods are expensive? Unfortunately, they are. A better question to ask is, “How much does it cost you to miss a day of your life?” Stick with the healthier foods.
4. Reduce exposure to risk detection devices. This caution includes mammograms (take only every 3-5 years, not annually, to reduce risk), prostrate screening (once every 5-7 years), dental X-ray screening (take once every 2-3 years) and airport X-rays (less is better).
Those who profit from the use of the above typically defend all of these tests, but the science is NOT entirely clear on the safety when used too often. That’s why I reduce the amount of radiation in my body as much as possible. When traveling though airports, if I’ve got an extra few moments, they can pat me down. Better to be safe than sorry.
5. Move your body. Researchers have long linked exercise with lower breast cancer risk for women past menopause, believing it works partly by lowering their estrogen levels. Higher estrogen levels can raise breast cancer risk.
If it’s 1-3 floors at a hotel, take the stairs down to the lobby. If you can, take the stairs up, too. If you have to park an extra thirty seconds from the store entrance, embrace the walk. At home, I swim or surf 6 days a week. I get out in the yard to do gardening and so does my wife. If you are a member of a gym, work out 3-6 days a week. If you are not a member, find something you love to do and do it daily. These activity requests are meant to nag you. They are listed because your body was designed to move!
6. Talk back to the voice in your head. Learn to manage your self-talk. If the voice in your head is replaying stressful conversations, redirect it to another more productive conversation. There are many reasons why people become depressed. Just one of them is their inner conversations that get them worked up into a stressed state. Most people think of depression as a medical condition, or disease. Another point of view is that it’s a symptom that something’s “off” or “wrong” in your life.
When I hear people tell me about the voice in their head that replays stressful conversations or creates new ones, I ask the question, “And who is directing that voice in your head?” You are! Change the conversation to something more inspiring, optimistic and empowering. You are the driver of your bus. You are not a victim of the “inner voice.” If the voice is counter-productive, don’t feed it, redirect it.
7. DO Get your Vitamin D! This is a miracle factor for prevention of problems. It supports your immune system to enhance Cold and Flu Protection. Vitamin D supports normal muscle production and strength, and a lack of the vitamin leads to muscle weakness, a reduced range of motion, and increased physical frailty.
Evidence now suggests that Vitamin D plays a role in stopping cancer development and growth (Raimondi, Johansson, Maisonneuve, Gandini, 2009). One study showed women could slash the risk of breast cancer in half by getting enough Vitamin D. When I’m not traveling, I try to get 10-15 min. a day of sunshine. There’s no risk of skin cancer at that short exposure and a HUGE upside. The Vitamin D factor helps facilitate healing from illnesses and helps metabolize the potassium and calcium needed for strong bones.
Best news about cancer breakthroughs: CANCER IMMUNOTHERAPY: harnessing the immune system to battle tumors.
Scientists have thought for decades that such an approach to cancer therapy should be possible, but it has been incredibly difficult to make it work. Now, many oncologists say we have turned a corner, because two different techniques are helping a subset of patients. One involves antibodies that release a brake on T cells, giving them the power to tackle tumors. Another involves genetically modifying an individual’s T cells while outside the body so that they are better able to target cancer, and then reinfusing them back into the same patient so they can do just that.
No. 1: Pancreatic cancer. What you can do: Know the warning signs and see a doctor if you experience abdominal or back pain, unexplained weight loss, digestive problems, light-colored stools, or jaundice. Chronic alcohol consumption — more than one drink a day for women and more than two drinks a day for men over an extended period of time — can increase the risk for pancreatitis and cancer. Diets heavy on processed red meats have also been linked to the disease, while eating five servings of vegetables daily can help prevent it.
No. 2: Liver cancer. What you can do: Because obesity is a prime risk factor for liver cancer, your best defense is to maintain a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and keeping belly fat to a minimum. You should also limit alcohol consumption and your intake of sugary foods (which increase your risk for obesity, diabetes, fatty liver, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.) Chronic hepatitis is also a known risk factor for this form of cancer, so make sure you get a hep B vaccine. You should also tell your doctor if you experience fatigue, anemia, abdominal pain, jaundice, unexplained weight loss, or digestive problems.
No. 3: Brain cancer. What you can do: Be aware that about half of people who have brain tumors report unusual headaches — those that may wake you at night or you experience in the morning — among the first signs. Other potential warning signs: nausea, vomiting, vision or balance problems, tingling in the arms or legs, personality changes, seizures, or extreme fatigue. Reduce risk for brain cancer by limiting exposure to CT scans and mobile devices held next to your head.
No. 4: Esophageal cancer. What you can do: Treat reflux (consult a doctor for an appropriate remedy), quit smoking, and limit consumption of foods that have high acid content. The opposite foods, those more alkaline, leafy green vegetables — learn to enjoy them more. If you don’t like those, consider taking sodium potassium bicarbonate supplements. Be aware that chronic acid reflux — can lead to cancer. Those over 50 suffering from long-term heartburn, throat-burn, coughing, or hoarseness should get a nasal esophagoscopy, which allows a doctor to view the esophagus. Among the warning signs: chest pain, difficulty swallowing, hiccups, sudden unexplained weight loss, and chronic pneumonia.
No. 5: Skin cancer. What you can do: Check your skin for irregular moles, growths, and patches. Make sure to limit your sun exposure (15 minutes at a time) and apply safe sunscreen (see suggestions above) liberally and regularly when you are outdoors — particularly if you are light-skinned or have blonde or red hair, which increases skin cancer risk. See a dermatologist regularly for a skin examination, particularly if you had serious sunburns as a child.
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, use of vaccinations, getting enough Vitamin D, avoiding toxic personal care products and getting regular check-ups with fewer radiation doses.
Do you think these suggestions are too expensive? How much would having cancer cost you? Do you think exercise, eating better and Vitamin D take too much time? If you get cancer, how much of your time is spent trying to heal?
While some of the suggestions above may not be new, every one is backed by solid science. I enjoy good health and never, ever take it for granted. I have the immune system of one much younger than myself. Why? What you see on the list above are things that I also pay attention to, and actually do every day.
I take 60-80 plane flights a year, but travel does not make anyone sick. I work extra hard to manage my health and I constantly work to maintain my immune system. The plan is working so far; I’ve been sick, maybe, twice in ten years. How? I do follow the suggestions that I make; it’s my life hanging in the balance.
Even if you only made one change a month or even one per year, you’ll move yourself to greater health.
Which change were you thinking of making? When?