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12+ Ways to Achieve Lifelong Protection from Cancer

Probably the most feared from of death is cancer.  It's often slow and painful, nature's form of torture if you will.  (We think, falsely in most cases, that cardiovascular disease at least takes us out quickly.)  So how do we protect ourselves against a wide array of cancers?  Do we have any control or is it all in our genes and environment?

As you might have guesses, science has unlocked many keys to cancer prevention. We have already covered Prostate Cancer in another link, but I thought it was important to mention some of the key things you can do to protect against the other forms of cancer that plague Westerners, especially lung and gastrointestinal.

One of the emphases on this site is giving people in middle age and beyond a second chance to start their life over.  Obviously, this will be difficult to impossible with some nasty form of cancer sucking the life out of you.  Read below, and take comfort, that you can very significantly lower your risk with a few simple lifestyle modifications:

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1. Mediterranean Lifestyle A Mediterranean Diet and lifestyle leads to significantly lower cancer mortality rates.  One ten year study of European seniors showed that  cancer (and all cause) mortality was reduced by two thirds.  These amazing numbers were produced by moderate drinking (1-2 drinks/day), exercise and smoking avoidance. [1] For more information, read this link on The Mediterranean Diet. (The Mediterranean Diet is also an erection protector.)

2. Vitamin D.  In the last decade scientists have found that Vitamin D is critical to immunity and discovered that there are literally hundreds of genes affected by Vitamin D metabolism that are involved in cancer.  How do you get Vitamin D?  By basking in the sun, which is bad for your Skin, or by taking the supplement.  Vitamin D is one of the few supplements where I will tell you that more is better.  For example, one study showed a 60% reduction in all forms of cancer for those taking 1000 IU of Vitamin D. [2]  A few cents a day, especially for those of you trying to preserve your appearance by staying out of the sun, will probably save your life someday.

3.   Fruits and Vegetables.  It will probably not shock you to learn that fruits and vegetables are loaded with compounds that protect you from virtually every form of cancer. A 1996 meta-analysis found that 'the evidence for a protective effect of greater vegetable and fruit consumption is consistent for cancers of the stomach, esophagus, lung, oral cavity and pharynx, endometrium, pancreas, and colon. The types of vegetables or fruit that most often appear to be protective against cancer are raw vegetables, followed by allium vegetables, carrots, green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and tomatoes'. [1]

4. BroccoliBroccoli is an unbelievable cancer fighter.  It fights so many kinds of cancer that I have made a separate link on How Broccoli Offers Unprecedented Cancer Protection.

5. Green Tea.  Once again, your beverage of choice should be green tea:  Dean Ornish relates that "a study of more than 35,000 postmenopausal women in Iowa, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 1996, found that those who drank more than two cups per day of tea were 32 percent less likely to have cancers throughout their digestive tract, including reduced cancers of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, colon and rectum. Four or more cups per day of tea lowered the risk of such cancers by 63 percent."

6. Flavenoids. One study [4] found that increase flavenoids - can you say, "blueberries, cacao and dark chocolate?" - significantly decreased the risk of lung cancer.  A Spanish study [5] found a similar result for stomach cancer as well. In addition, you may want to take note of The Kuna, who so powerfully have shown that cacao flavenoids are strongly heart protective.

7. Cranberries and Cranberry Juice.  Cranberries have done very well in anticancer studies. In fact, one could argue that it almost as powerful as in the category as Broccoli. Cranberry extracts, according to one study work against all the top-killings cancers and "inhibit the growth and proliferation of breast, colon, prostate, lung, and other tumors". [6] That same study points that cranberries unleash a broad range of anticancer powers including strong antioxidant activity and inhibition of ornithine decarboxylase.  Cranberries also possess abundant quantities of another anti-cancer phytochemical:  quercetin.  Put this all together along with the fact that it raises HDL, provides protection against urinary tract infections and is low on fructose and, well,  you've got a fruit that ought to be consumed daily.

8. Turmeric.  Turmeric is the main component of curry and yellow mustard and it is a potent cancer fighter if there ever was one.  Researchers have found that it "inhibits angiogenesis, induces apoptosis, and slows metastasis". In other words, it not only slows the spread of cancer cells but also causes them to self-destruct. [7] Curcumin, which gives turmeric its yellow color, has been found to cause esphogeal cells to self-destruct within 24 hours. [11]  This is particularly important if you drink even moderately or used chewing tobacco.  Turmeric has also shown promise against skin cancer [8], lymphoma [9] and other cancers.  (See also my link on Inflammation for more details.)  Some Asians cultures consume as much as 2-3 grams/day on average and so it is considered extemely safe with an excellent health profile and track record. NOTE:  Turmeric is poorly absorbed.  A little fat with it will help.  In addition, researchers found that turmeric absorbtion is greatly enhanced with piperine, a component of black pepper. One study found that adding just 20 mg of piperine to 2 g of turmeric increased its bioavailability by 2000%. [10]

9. HDL.  Men with high HDL actually showed a relatively small but statistically significant decrease in prostate and several kinds of cancer when compared with men with the lowest HDL levels. (NOTE: The Ornish Diet will actually lower HDL, but it does so many other good things that it actually turns off prostate cancer, so the HDL lowering appears to be of no significance.) [12]

10. Exercise.  Another powerhouse in the cancer prevention and protection category is exercise.  One recent animal study found that exercise (and caffeine interestinly enough) protected mice very significantly from skin cancer. [13]  Many studies have shown a reduction of about 30-40% in colon cancer rates due to exercise and exercise may protect against lung, uterine and various other cancers as well. [14]  NOTE:  Don't go crazy with caffeine:  it may raise SHBG levels which, in turn, could lead to a decrease in free testosterone, although these results come from studies of females, which may not be applicable. [15]  On the other hand, at least in women, it decreases estradiol during part of their menstual cycle and most guys could use a decrease in estrogen levels.

11. BRAIN CANCER:  Brain cancer is surprisingly common nowadays and afflicts about 17,000 people per year in the U.S. alone.  How do you protect yourself from this type of cancer, arguably of your most precious organ?  Right now the key seems to be to protect yourself from environmental toxins and factors. For example, multiple studies have now shown that cell phone radiation exposure is a risk factor for brain cancer. [17] [18] Furthermore, a massive 2006 study found that those with the greatest work exposure to lead had a significantly higher risk of brain cancer. [16]  (That's great news for those of us who grew up in the days of leaded gasoline!)  And there are some who argue that aspartame had a bad reputation in the early research for causing brain cancers, [19] but this has not been supported in later studies, although there is evidence for lymphomas and leukemia. Pesticides [20] and mercury/cadmium [21] have also preliminary links as well. In other words, the risk comes from without and not as much from within in this case.

12.  Fish Oil (Omega-3's). An ever-growing body of evidence is revealing that the omega-3 fats are cancer-reducing and the omega-6's as cancer-producing.  In other words, here is yet another reason to increase your omega-3/omega-6 ratio:  cancer protection. Preliminary research has shown omega-3's protective effects against liver [22], colon  [23] and prostate cancers. [24]  By the way, you may want to tell the Little Woman in your life:  it looks like it is also protective against breast cancer. [25]

13. IGF-1.  IGF-1 is an important molecule for us guys but its overproduction and overexpression can lead to cancer according to many experts.  See my link on Ways to Keep IGF-1 in Check through means such as exercise and avoidance of certain proteins.

14. Berries (and Pomegranate).  It's hard to say enough about these superfoods when it comes to fighting cancer.  Black raspberries have been found to both prevent esophageal cancer and prevent its spread if it manifests. [27]  One of the prominent researchers recommends 1.4-2 cups of black raspberries per day.  Scientists have long know that one of the key phytochemcils seems to be ellagic acid, which has induces cancer cell death and stops its ability to reproduce for starters. [28]  Ellagic acid also helps get rid of carcinogenic substances from our systems as well. Is it just blackberries?  No, blueberries and strawberries have also been found to attack every cycle of the colon cancer cell. [27][29] 

15. Baby Aspirin.  A recent Lancet publication found a lowering in risk for various oesophageal, pancreatic, brain, stomach, colorectal, prostate and lung cancers. [30] Not bad for one little pill, eh?  CAUTION:  Aspirin is an NSAID and, as such, increases the risk of bleeding and/or ulcers. [31]  Some NSAIDs have the side effect of decreasing erectile strength.

16. Inflammation. Inflammation is the new and perhaps most powerful risk factor for a wide variety of cancers.  For more information, see my links on Inflammation and Your Health and How to Reduce Inflammation.

REFERENCES:

1) J Amer Dietetic Assoc, Oct 1996,1027-1039

2) Amer J Nutr,Jun 2007,85(6):1586-91

3) http://www.newsweek.com/id/57656/page/2

4) Amer J of Epid, 1997,146:223-230

5) Cancer Causes and Control, 1999, 10:71-75

6) J Nutr, Jan 2007, 137:186S-193S, "Cranberry and Its Phytochemicals: A Review of In Vitro Anticancer Studies"

7) CA Cancer J Clin, 2006, 56:67-68, "A CANCER TREATMENT IN THE SPICE CABINET?"

8) Cancer 2005;104:879-890

9) Biochemical Pharmacology, 2005, 70:700–713

10) Planta Med, 1998 May, 64(4):353-6, "Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers"

11) British Journal of Cancer, Oct 6 2009, 101:1585–1595, Published online 6 October 2009, "Curcumin induces apoptosis-independent death in oesophageal cancer cells"

12) Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2009; 18:2814-2821, "Prediagnostic total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and risk of cancer"

13) PNAS, Contributed by Allan H. Conney, June 21, 2007 (received for review April 17, 2007), "Voluntary exercise together with oral caffeine markedly stimulates UVB light-induced apoptosis and decreases tissue fat in SKH-1 mice"

14) http://hms.harvard.edu/public/disease/ca15

15) Cancer, 2009 Jun 15, 115(12):2765-74, "Relationship between caffeine intake and plasma sex hormone concentrations in premenopausal and postmenopausal women"

16) Intl J of Cancer, 119(5):1136-1144, "Brain cancer mortality and potential occupational exposure to lead: Findings from the National Longitudinal Mortality Study, 1979-1989"

17) Brit J of Cancer, 2005, 93(7):842-848, "Mobile phone use and risk of acoustic neuroma: Results of the Interphone case-control study in five North European countries"

18) Revue d'Epidemiologie et de Sante Publique, 2007, 55(5):321-332, "Cell phones and risk of brain and acoustic nerve tumours: The French INTERPHONE case-control study"

19) http://www.naturalnews.com/ 011804_aspartame_tumors_brain_tumor.htm

20) http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/risk/ brain-tumor-study

21) Biological Trace Element Research, 2001, 79(3), "Levels of cadmium, lead, and mercury in human brain tumors"

22) Mol Cancer Ther,  2009, 8(11):3046–55, "Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids inhibit hepatocellular carcinoma cell growth through blocking ?-catenin and cyclooxygenase-2"

23) Cancer Res, Dec 1, 1988, 48:6642, "Effect of Different Levels of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids on Azoxymethane-induced Colon Carcinogenesis in F344 Rats"

24) J Clin Invest, 2007, 117(7):1866–1875, "Modulation of prostate cancer genetic risk by omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids"

25) http://www.ecancermedicalscience.com/news-insider-news.asp?itemId=1107a

26) JAMA, 2004 Sep 22m 292(12):1433-9, "Mediterranean diet, lifestyle factors, and 10-year mortality in elderly European men and women: the HALE project"

27) http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/canberry.htm

28) J of Nutritional Biochemistry, 16(6):360-367, "In vitro antiproliferative, apoptotic and antioxidant activities of punicalagin, ellagic acid and a total pomegranate tannin extract are enhanced in combination with other polyphenols as found in pomegranate juice"

29) J Agric Food Chem, 2005 Sep 7, 53(18):7320-9, "Phenolic compounds from blueberries can inhibit colon cancer cell proliferation and induce apoptosis"

30) The Lancet, 1 January 2011, 377(9759):31-41, "Effect of daily aspirin on long-term risk of death due to cancer: analysis of individual patient data from randomised trials"

31) http://consults.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/01/a-hidden-danger-of-an-aspirin-a-day/

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