I admit, I hesitated before choosing this topic. The word “cancer” is a scary one because it makes you feel absolutely helpless. On the other hand the disease affected so many lives that it’s impossible to ignore. I often find myself talking to people explaining them what to eat and how to live during their recovery stage, but nobody never asked me about prevention. This year, as a Breast Cancer Awareness Month approached, I decided to go for it and discuss things that may actually be useful for many and long term. I often feel that we tend to talk about the problem once it’s here and must be dealt with forgetting that even the worst problems can often be avoided and seem less frightening if we know more about factors that cause them in a first place.
I studied cancer while completing my course in nutritional therapy and the information I’ve leant was fascinating. Of course, I’m not going to write long-winded article here. Instead it’s the essential truth and knowledge in a bullet point format accompanied by a beautiful editorial to tie the topics of health and fashion somehow.
* Cancer occurs when a number of immature cells begin to divide and invade surrounding organs and tissues robbing then from essential nutrients. The cells are able to migrate and plant themselves anywhere in the body.
* Breast cancer is linked to oestrogen. Higher oestrogen levels increase risk of the disease.
* A study published in 2001 found that drinking 4-5 cups of coffee daily raised blood levels of oestrogen in women, so reduce your intake to 1-2 cups.
* Another study from British Journal of Cancer 2007 showed that a daily diet of grapefruit may increase the risk of breast cancer for postmenopausal women by 30%.
* Several independent studies, including one in 2007 and the other, in 2009, concluded that raised levels of blood sugar may increase risk of cancer in women, also noting that “sugar feeds tumours”. Control your blood sugar levels by eating healthy diet made of good quality protein, green and other bright coloured vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and wholegrains and keep sugary foods and treats to a bare minimum.
* There’s a strong link between obesity and breast cancer due to the fact that body fat produces a hormone called leptin that has an ability to increase oestrogen levels. If you carry excess weight – lose it. Remember you don’t need to be top-model slim, but it would be a good thing to be within healthy weight range.
* Fermented organic soy products (tofu, tempeh and miso) may support healthy hormonal balance if included in a diet on a regular basis (if you are on any medication – check with your doctor first).
* Tests show that vitamins A, C, E, B3 and B6 may inhibit the growth of cancer cells by stimulating our immune system and acting as free-radical scavengers, so eating an organic diet high in bright coloured vegetables (think carrots, broccoli, kale, beet, cabbages and asparagus), fresh fruits, raw nuts (particularly almonds and Brazil nuts) and seeds (linseed, sunflower and pumpkin), avocado and extra virgin olive oil, oily fish, venison, Shiitake and Crimini mushrooms will be a huge bonus.
* Being a vegetarian or simply avoiding meat may reduce risk of cancer. If you can’t give up meat, make sure it’s always organic as non-organic products are likely to contain antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and other substances some of which may increase risk of cancer.. Same applies to chicken, eggs and dairy. Avoid or reduce processed and barbequed meats.
* Exercise is very important. If you are not born to be a gym-bunny, walk, run or exercise at home. Just keep moving.
* Substances in plastic and cling film may affect balance of oestrogen in the body, too, so use glass containers whenever possible and do not cover your foods, particularly, any containing fats, with plastic wrap.
* Smoking and drinking increases the risk, so quit smoking and drink sensibly and only the best wines.
* Use glass and ceramic coated cookware.
* Avoid using microwave. It doesn’t only destroy the nutrients in foods, but may also be potentially carcinogenic.
* Avoid using any cosmetics or make-up containing parabens – those have been found in breast tissue of breast cancer patients. Enough said.
* Remember to perform a quick self-exam, ideally once a month.
* Cancer occurs during mutations that may take several years. One mutation is never enough to produce fully-functioning cancerous cell. It takes at least four mutations for this cell to develop, therefore a process can be stopped during the first three mutations with a change of diet and lifestyle habits. You may not even know about it.
EXPERTS BELIEVE THAT 80-90% OF CANCERS ARE PREVENTABLE
Photo source: Natalia Vodianova Vogue Paris August 2005 (photography: Bruce Weber)