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What You Should Know About Cancer Prevention

Egypt was one of my aunt's favorite places. She traveled there and then captivated us with stories of pharaohs and pyramids, of tombs and treasures. She dreamed of going back.

My aunt Jean loved life. She was gorgeous and vibrant. She was kind. Her self-proclaimed family nickname was "Le Plunger" because she always volunteered to wash the dishes after dinner when she visited. She was curious about life and traveled the world. She loved parties and dancing. Growing up, my sisters and I wanted to be like her.

The last time I saw my aunt she asked me to paint her fingernails bright pink. She was lying in a hospice bed dying from colon cancer. She was 67.

She was too young to die, especially when colorectal cancer is the most preventable form of cancer.

Cancer kills–but studies show that 40% of cases are preventable through diet and lifestyle. Right now, I know 4 people who are battling cancer. Maybe you know someone with cancer or someone who is a survivor since 1 in 2 to 3 people will develop cancer.

In my last newsletter, I mentioned that I'm working toward my certification to teach nutrition + cooking workshops that focus on disease prevention and reversal. Having just completed a course on cancer, I wanted to share these recommendations on cancer prevention related to diet and lifestyle. Even if you're familiar with these, they serve as a good reminder:

1) Maintain a healthy weight.

2) Be physically active.

3) Eat a plant-based diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans.

4) Limit or avoid red and processed meat. A 2016 report from the World Health Organization and welcomed by the American Institute on Cancer Research states that processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, ham, sausage, and cold cuts have been placed in "Group 1: Carcinogenic to Humans", the same category as cigarettes. Red meat (beef, pork, lamb) is assigned to "Group 2A: Probably Carcinogenic to Humans".

5) Limit fast foods and other processed foods.

6) Limit consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks.

7) Limit or avoid alcohol consumption. The American Cancer Society says,"There is no 'safe' amount of alcohol that does not increase risk of at least some cancers."

8) And of course, don't smoke.

While consistently eating an overall diet based on whole, plant-based foods is highly recommended, there are some notable foods to include for patient support and cancer prevention:

  • Cruciferous vegetables (like kale, cauliflower, and broccoli)

  • Mushrooms (which have a profound impact on prevention)

  • Onions, garlic, and other foods from the allium family

  • Berries (because of their deep colors and high levels of antioxidants)

  • Tomatoes (cooked tomatoes in particular are high in lycopene)

  • Flaxseed (high in important Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and lignans which are important compounds noted for prevention)

  • Unprocessed or minimally processed soy foods

  • Herbs and spices (because they're highly concentrated sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories)

Cancer isn't something we want to think about but adopting healthy lifestyle choices–for yourself and those you love, means that hopefully you won't have to.

If you want tips on incorporating more plant foods into your diet, reach out to me!

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