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Monday, October 15, 2007

Foods To Eat Or Avoid In The Battle Against Cancer

When it comes to cancer, everyone seems to be at risk to some extent. Some of the foods we eat could be poisoning us, as well as some of our lifestyles. Yet, there is always someone we are aware of who did all the wrong things such as drank and smoked, supposedly ate many of the wrong things and never heard the word "cancer". Alarmingly, increasing numbers of people are getting the diagnosis without actually having cancer. I was one of them. It is very stressful to go through such a diagnosis, even if in the end, it is found to be false. At the same time many receive the correct diagnosis and beat the odds miraculously by fighting back.

Despite cancer being something that does not seem fully under our control, it is a good idea to eat right to do our part in trying to prevent this devastating disease. A recent news article reminds us of all the sensible cancer-fighting foods to eat frequently each week such as tomatoes, berries (strawberries, blueberries, etc.), cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and raw cabbage. The combination of calcium and vitamin D (especially D3, the active form of the vitamin) has a protective influence on the colon. Therefore, consuming dairy products, especially yogurt for it’s other benefits such as providing good bacteria, makes sense. If sunshine is lacking in your area, taking a D3 supplement every day is a good idea, along with calcium for good measure, making sure the daily requirement for both is met. Keep calcium at optimum levels, but don’t overdo is the message I have received throught the years. It is also a good combination supplementation to take to prevent osteoporosis. It is suggested that getting most of one’s fats from healthy fats such as olive oil, avocadoes, fish and nuts is advisable and to cut down on saturated fats, although they admit the jury is out on that one with regard to breast cancer risk in women. In fact, it is quite a controversial subject!

At the same time, it was recommended to cut down on certain foods. Top of the list are foods containing nitrates such as hot dogs, bacon and other processed meats, which have been implicated in colon cancer. In fact, “women who ate approximately 1 ounce of processed meat (about one slice of bologna) two or three times a week for a decade were 50 percent more likely to develop colon cancer according to a large study in The Journal of the American Medical Association.” They recommend less than 3 oz of red meat a day and to avoid charred meat. Most of us also know that burnt toast is something to avoid. I imagine better choices for protein would be eggs, chicken and fish.

Alcohol tops the list of foods to avoid for breast cancer risk. One drink a night is permissible, but having several drinks over a couple of days is not recommended. The jury seems to be out with regard to soy, but I know I cannot have it with my hypothyroidism. Indeed, cruciferous vegetables mentioned above are contra-indicated for hypothyroidism as well, as is peanut butter, however, these foods I include in my diet in moderation without noticeable side effects. I suspect it is a “your mileage may vary” issue, however, I digress.

I think most of us have heard these facts before several times, but it does not hurt to be reminded to make healthier food choices daily.

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