This article is part of a series on Natural Health Therapies and Cancer. The material presented is meant to inform you of complementary cancer therapies that are available in the medical community. These therapies are to be used in cooperation with other cancer treatment methods. They are not meant to be done in place of your physician's care. In the last article, we covered the basics of cancer - what it is, what causes it, what are its various types and stages. This article will focus on the aspect of Dietary Changes and Nutritional Supplements as a form of cancer therapy.
Aside from tobacco and smoking, there is no greater factor for triggering and promoting cancer than diet and nutrition. When used correctly, diet and nutrition are also the factors that have the highest ability to reverse cancer. According to the National Academy of Sciences, 40% of all cancer in men may be directly related to diet. The statistics are even worse for women; 60% of all cancers in women may be linked to nutritional factors.
As I've pointed out in other articles, what we eat is important to our health. Equally important is what we don't eat. Our society has turned from a natural, raw food diet to a highly processed and refined diet. The average American meal consists of high-fat, high-protein, low-fiber foods in oversized portions. Our fast-paced society even calls some of them a 'Value Meal.' Where's the value? The nationwide increase in cancer has been parallel to the decline in our eating habits.
Several areas of our society's diet are excessive. In clinical studies, these excesses have been found to significantly increase cancer risks. The key sections of the American diet that contribute to cancer are:
· Excessive intake of animal protein (meat, cheese, dairy) - can increase the risk for cancer in the breast, colon, pancreas, kidney, prostate, and endometrium; certain preparation and cooking techniques (such as pickling, smoking, frying) add to the cancer risks; fatty meats contain higher levels of carcinogenic pesticides
· Intake of contaminated fish - mercury, nickel, oil, and PCBs found in many marketplace fish; 1/10 of a teaspoon of PCBs is enough to cause illness or cancer
· Excessive fat intake - can increase risk for cancer of the breast, colon, rectum, uterus, prostate, and kidney; partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are considered major problems along with insufficient intake of healthy Omega-3 fats
· Excessive intake of refined carbohydrates and table sugar - lowers immune system function; elevates insulin levels (which can promote breast cancer); tumors thrive in a high-glucose environment
· Excessive intake of iron - associated with red meat, fortified breads and pastas; cooking in iron pots and skillets can add to your iron exposure
· Excessive intake of alcohol - can increase risk for cancer in the breast, mouth, throat, pancreas, liver, head and neck; alcohol suppresses Natural Killer cells that help repel cancer
· Excessive intake of caffeine - cancer rates are higher for those who drink more than 3 cups of coffee a day; caffeine can cause DNA damage, adding to cancer risk
Although it looks like our diets doom us to destruction, there are steps we can take to reduce the cancer risk. Here are some ways to combat and prevent cancer through some simple changes in your diet -
· Eat more fruits and vegetables
· Drink green tea, fresh juices
· Eat nuts, seeds, legumes
· Avoid all red meats, dairy products, eggs and shellfish
· Avoid refined, sugary foods
· Avoid caffeine and alcohol
· Avoid all vegetable oils especially hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils
· Use olive, pumpkin seed, flaxseed, walnut, and sesame oils
· Avoid margarine, fried foods, creamy sauces and dressings
· Eat salmon, halibut, red snapper, and flounder for healthy Omega-3 fats
· Avoid cooking in iron or aluminum cookware
· Use stainless steel or glass cookware
· Avoid microwave use, particularly with plastic containers
· Eat organically-grown foods when possible
More advanced nutritional therapies include Vegan and Macrobiotic diets. These nutritional regimens consist of raw, natural foods and specific food preparation techniques. These diets are used to help cleanse the digestive system, allowing the elimination of excessive toxins.
Nutritional supplements can play a major role in cancer prevention and cancer therapy. There are many different approaches being practiced successfully. For example, antioxidants, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Alpha-Lipoic-Acid combat the free radical damage associated with cancer. Sea vegetables such as kombu are linked to a lower breast cancer rate in Japanese women. Garlic appears to boost the Natural Killer cell function and block cancer cells in the bloodstream. Certain types of digestive enzymes can be used to break down the protective coating on certain cancer cells. Minerals such as selenium, magnesium, calcium, and zinc are also used in varying dosages for certain cancer therapies.
As you may know, my PhD research is on the connection between nutrition and health. I'm concentrating on the importance of 8 basic carbohydrates called glyconutrients that help the cells communicate properly. 'Glyco' means sugar and these 8 simple sugars are involved in every cell interaction. The relatively new scientific field of glycobiology is making amazing discoveries on the impact of these simple sugars on our health. The studies show that many of these glyconutritional sugars, such as fucose, inhibit growth and/or tumor cell metastasis in certain cancers. The inhibition of cancer growth by glyconutritional sugars, such as mannose, appears to be partially related to immune system activation of Natural Killer cells, the white blood cell that destroys cancer cells. Research also demonstrates that glyconutritional sugars appear to inhibit tumor cell metastasis by preventing the attachment of tumor cells to normal cells. They do this by competing for glyconutritional sugar binding sites on the cell surfaces.
I personally know individuals that have had outstanding results against cancer with the use of these nutrients. Various glyconutrients are traditionally found in mother's breast milk, pectin from apples and oranges, specific types of mushrooms, and limu. However, most of these glyconutrients are not in our diets. Luckily, our bodies can manufacture many of these nutrients through a lengthy metabolic process. Unfortunately, the effects of stress, medications, and other environmental factors make this process difficult and prone to errors. For that reason as well as the nutrition lost from the over-processing of our foods, the only way to insure that you get all 8 glyconutrients is through nutritional supplements. For additional information on glyconutritional supplements, you may also refer to material posted at www.glycoscience.com or at www.glycoinformation.com. You can also research these nutrients on PubMed under glycobiology or by name of the sugar such as fucose, mannose, etc.
A couple of good books for Cancer and Nutrition that I recommend are:
Beating Cancer with Nutrition by Patrick Quillin, Ph.D., and Director of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
Options: The Alternative Cancer Therapy Book by R. Walters
Alternatives in Cancer Therapy by R. Pelton and L. Overholser
Sugars that Heal by Dr. Emil Mendoa, MD
"Education is the best provision for the journey to old age" - Aristotle