Cancer is the one disease many of us fear the most, and with good reason. It is responsible for much pain and suffering. Cancer is the cause of nearly one out of every four deaths on the Sunshine Coast. Our holistic GP”s and good naturopaths think it is important to help educate people about cancer prevention.
It is a travesty that our government and our education system unwittingly do so little in the way of cancer prevention education, and the underlying reason for that is a general lack of education on this important topic. This leaves the general public feeling disempowered against this deadly disease.
Pap smears, mammograms and faecal occult blood tests are important, yet they are only a smallish part of the big picture.
Too many people become interested in the causes of cancer only after they confront a scary diagnosis. We suggest we should all get our heads out of the sand and realise we have a responsibility to prevent cancer.
Prevention strategies not only exist, they also are remarkably effective. We need to educate ourselves about them. Holistic doctors and good naturopaths, such as at Pulse, play a vital role in educating the public.
The varying advice we get on how to prevent cancer can be confusing. I want to keep things as straightforward as possible. Better diet and lifestyle choices can prevent cancer.
Holistic GPs and good naturopaths know that by giving your body nutrient dense, clean foods, and minimising exposure to carcinogens, we can prevent most cancers. Sensible supplementation puts the icing on the cake.
Good naturopaths know that a body that isn’t overtaxed from repairing damage due to toxins and poor diet is one that is less prone to cancer.
If an immune system is working well, it should destroy abnormal cells before they become tumours. Cancer is usually a sign that the immune system is already compromised.
So the root of cancer prevention is to support immune and gut health. This is because the majority of the immune system is in the gut.
The following is some of the best information I can find on preventing cancer.
Good Naturopaths say choose organic and locally grown fresh food.
Food is the best medicine! The easiest way to slash our risk of cancer is to clean up our diet. If we eat mostly whole foods (in their natural state, unprocessed, unpackaged,) that’s good! (If you have read the other blogs, are you recognising a recurrent theme here?)
Specific cancer prevention foods are those high in antioxidants (as in naturally brightly coloured fruits and vegetables.) These fight free radicals that cause cell damage.
The cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and cabbage) have strong anti-cancer properties.
The enzyme and chlorophyll-rich benefits of raw foods and raw green juice help prevent cancer. Leafy greens, berries, garlic, fermented foods, and green tea are all great choices.
Good naturopaths have always said we should make our diets plant-based, meaning the bulk of each meal should be vegetables.
We should get most of our antioxidants from foods. Good sources include blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, beans, and artichokes.
Animals raised in confined animal feeding operations usually eat feed full of pesticides and herbicides. These toxic chemicals accumulate in their flesh and fat over the course of their lifetimes. If we eat factory – farmed meat, we then ingest these accumulated poisons.
Some pesticides and herbicides are potentially carcinogenic. These toxins accumulate, and are stored in our own fat tissue if our liver is unable to remove them.
The wise holistic solution for cancer prevention is to opt for organically grown produce and organically raised, pastured (ie grass fed) animal products.
I suggest we should also always only buy antibiotic free, hormone free meat. The hormones that are fed to animals to encourage their growth contribute to “oestrogen dominance.” This is an hormonal state that may be carcinogenic in those who eat the meat. The antibiotics can also kill the protective good bacteria in our intestines.
Gina Munro and Danielle Roberts, our experienced naturopaths here at Minyama on the Sunshine Coast are very keen to make sure all their patients eat well to maximise cancer prevention. They love to help advise people on all aspects of nutrition.
Optimise vitamin D with sunlight for Cancer Prevention
The higher the solar UVB, the lower the incidence of many different types of cancer (up to a point.) That includes bladder, breast, cervical, colon, endometrial, oesophageal, gastric, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, rectal, renal, vulval cancers and lymphoma. This is because solar UVB increases vitamin D levels.
A “cancer prevention” blood vitamin D level needs to be between 100 and 150 nmol/l. It should be this high throughout the whole of the year.
Our holistic doctors and good naturopaths check all our patients’ vitamin D levels. We estimate that over 70% of people on the Sunshine Coast have sub optimal vitamin D levels. We suggest blood vitamin D levels should be checked at least annually.
Vitamin D works synergistically with Vitamin A (think raw carrots) in cancer prevention. It does this by inducing certain cancer cells to differentiate into normal cells and to stop multiplying uncontrollably.
Vitamin D from sun exposure is the best way to optimise our vitamin D levels. We only need enough exposure to have our skin turn the lightest shade of pink.
Any additional exposure will only cause harm to our skin, and will increase our risk of developing skin cancer. Supplementation with good quality oral vitamin D is second best to sunlight, but may be necessary for various reasons.
Maintain an ideal body weight.
Being overweight or obese accounts for 20 of all cancer deaths among women and 14 among men according to the American Cancer Society. Weight reduces the body’s production of female hormones, which may protect against breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and ovarian cancer.
It is a pertinent observation that obese people tend to have low vitamin D levels.
Avoid excess sugars, especially corn syrup and refined grains and sugars.
This will also help reduce insulin and blood sugar. Sugar is a fuel source for tumours, and excess sugar compromises our immune systems.
Spend one tenth of the money the typical smoker spends on cigarettes on supplements instead.
Rather than pay a cigarette company to slowly destroy your health, support the government’s increase on cigarette taxes. This will kill off the corporate criminals who make and sell cigarettes, instead of killing you.
Moderate exercise such as brisk walking 2 hours a week may cut the risk of breast cancer. It also helps you burn fat, which produces its own oestrogen, a known contributor to breast cancer. Getting outside to exercise is an easy way to increase vitamin D levels
Have an annual skin check.
This should preferably be done by an experienced doctor using a dermatoscope. We can recommend doctors who do skin checks full time, as we don’t offer this as a routine service here at the surgery.
Selenium is a trace element that is a very potent weapon in cancer prevention, particularly lung and colorectal cancer. Good naturopaths know that selenium protects cells from free radical damage. It also may enhance immune function and suppresses formation of blood vessels that nourish tumours.
The best natural source is seafood, as selenium is fast disappearing from farmed soils.
Selenium is toxic in extremely high doses; however, normal supplement levels ( roughly 200 micro grams/day ) are considered perfectly safe.
Iodine deficiency is a risk factor for thyroid, breast and stomach cancer, and probably prostate cancer too.
Iodine deficiency may be rife in Australia. In 2008, the 22nd Australian total diet study reported that between 7 and 84 of various population groups (based on age and gender) had inadequate dietary intakes of iodine. The figure increased markedly with increasing age. More than 50% of men aged 50 years and older fail to consume the average requirement of 100mcg daily.
Seafood, eggs, milk, yogurt, and strawberries are said to contain decent amounts of iodine. Yet there are no guarantees. To test for iodine deficiency is expensive. We think nearly everyone should supplement with 2 or 3 drops of iodine a day, less if you aren’t yet an adult.
There is another holistic reason to supplement with iodine. The more iodine deficient a pregnant mother is, the lower the IQ of her baby. So holistic doctors and good naturopaths owe it to future generations of Australians to educate everyone, and particularly girls, about iodine.
Use greener cleaning products.
It’s important to reduce our exposure to environmental toxins like household chemical cleaners.
It is very difficult to prove that a person’s exposure to household cleaners caused their cancer. Yet commonly used household chemicals may be carcinogenic. Breast cancer risk may be much higher among women who use the most chemical cleaning products and air fresheners.
They may also cause other serious health effects like reproductive and developmental problems in developing children.
Drink unpolluted water.
Tap water is often contains chlorine or chloramines. Toxic disinfection by products (DBPs) form when these disinfectants react with natural organic matter in the water. DBPs are many times more toxic than chlorine.
Tap water on the Sunshine Coast has chlorine (and fluoride) in it!
There are many studies showing that fluoride reduces IQ in children. Holistic doctors and good naturopaths know that fluoride is a neurotoxin. Fluoride toxicity may cause an increased risk of cancer. Health “authorities” usually admit that fluoride is toxic, yet claim that in small amounts there are dental benefits. Yet the evidence for that is dubious.
I think we should not put any amount of any poison into our bodies. There are better ways to keep teeth clean than by possibly compromising our brain function with fluoride.
If we filter our tap water, we reduce our exposure to known or suspected carcinogens. Home-filtered tap water is a safer bet than bottled water. It is best to store water in stainless steel or glass.
Use less toxic skin products
When we put chemicals on our skin they’re usually absorbed straight into the bloodstream and lymphatic system. Of the chemicals used in personal care products, most have never been comprehensively tested for safety. Many of them are toxic.
It is probably better to cover up than use synthetic sunscreen.
Remember some sun exposure is very beneficial for vitamin D production.
Avoid non – stick cookware.
Much cookware contains a non-stick coating that contains PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and other perfluorinated compounds (PFCs.) These are also in grease-resistant food packaging and stain-resistant clothing as well. These chemicals may be carcinogenic.
If the item in question is “non-stick” or “stain/grease resistant,” it will generally have some type of fluoride – impregnated coating. It is best to avoid these.
Ceramic cookware is safest.
Get appropriate amounts of animal-based omega-3 fats.
That means sticking to fresh, natural, unprocessed foods. This helps cancer prevention. Unfortunately, most people fail to consume sufficient quantities of this essential fat.
The holistic doctor knows omega 3’s are also very good for brain, joint and cardiovascular health.
We think it is prudent to routinely supplement with omega 3’s.
Studies indicate that zinc may play an important role in prevention, treatment and adjuvant (in combination with chemo – or radiotherapy) cancer treatment.
Zinc deficiency may be a contributory factor to cancer development. It is surprisingly common in Australia. One of the reasons for that is the low zinc content in our soil.
Zinc is vital for the metabolism of Vitamin A. It has important roles in many of the body’s systems. This includes in immunity, maintaining the integrity of sense organs, reproduction, mental function and wound healing. People with cancer may have an increased need for zinc. Anorexic people may not receive adequate dietary sources of zinc.
Our holistic doctors and good naturopaths spend a lot of time talking to people about zinc. A dosage of 25-50 mg elemental zinc is safe. We think it is prudent to routinely supplement with zinc.
Avoid BPA ( bisphenol-A. )
This is an endocrine-disrupting chemical linked to cancer, reproductive and foetal development problems.
Avoid canned foods. This reduces exposure to BPA. BPA is also a component of plastic containers. It’s also found in food packaging.
Here are some tips to help reduce exposure to BPA:
- use glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bottles and dishes rather than plastic or styrofoam ones.
- Avoid use of plastic wrap (and never microwave anything covered in it.)
- Give babies natural fabric toys instead of plastic ones.
- Don’t microwave anything in a plastic container.
Boil, poach or steam food,
rather than frying it. Processed, charred, and overcooked meats can contain cancer-causing heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These nasties form when meat is seared at high temperatures. Marinate meat before it is grilled. If you do grill, add rosemary and thyme. These antioxidant-rich spices can cut heterocyclic amines by as much as 87%.
Good naturopaths know we should also eat as many foods raw as we can to aid cancer prevention.
Water down our risk.
Drinking plenty of water reduces the risk of bladder cancer. It dilutes the concentration of cancer-causing agents in urine, and helps flush them through the bladder faster.
It is best to drink at least 8 large cups of filtered water a day for cancer prevention.
It my be best to give the dry cleaner a miss.
A solvent known as perchloroethylene in traditional dry cleaning may cause liver and kidney cancers and leukaemia. The main dangers are to workers who handle chemicals using older machines. It is not clear if consumers are also at increased cancer risk.
Avoid excessive alcohol,
especially if you have other high risk factors for cancer. Excessive alcohol may cause cancer of the oropharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast.
Eat herbs and spices.
We have a cancer prevention arsenal in our spice racks. Turmeric is a good example.
Take vitamin A (retinol,)
which is obtained from some carotenoids by conversion in the liver where it is stored. Carotenoids are widely distributed in such foods as green and yellow vegetables.
Retinol is not found in any vegetable sources, but is concentrated in egg yolks and the livers of many animals.
Vitamin A deficiencies are widespread throughout many parts of the world. Some studies show that most people with cancer are deficient in Vitamin A. Low vitamin A levels correlate with increased incidence of several cancers. These include cancers of the lung, larynx, oesophagus, mouth, stomach, colon, prostate and cervix.
Vitamin A is essential for growth and protection from various diseases. Vitamin A and its analogues help inhibit cancer cell proliferation. Its inhibitory effects are especially potent against leukaemia and certain head and neck cancers. Despite this, there hasn’t been much public awareness of its importance. This is also true for vitamin D.
Vitamin A is also vital to eye and retina function (whence its name retinol is derived.) It protects the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat and lungs from damage. It also reduces risk of infection.
Drink green tea.
The rates of breast, colon, skin, pancreatic, oesophageal and stomach cancer are lower among drinkers of green tea.
Have your MTHFR genes tested,
via a simple blood test. Our holistic doctors Mark, Tracy and Nicole, and our good naturopaths Gina and Danielle here on the Sunshine Coast know how to help if you have been unlucky choosing your parents.
Eat berries (especially blueberries / bilberries.)
Berries are extremely rich in a wide range of powerful antioxidant flavonoids. These are a useful complement in cancer prevention. High doses of flavonoids inhibit cell proliferation. This does not harm normal cells – however, cancer cells cannot survive in the resting state.
Garlic contains many antioxidants (at least 12, including selenium.) Studies show that garlic can restrict the growth of many types of cancer cells. Good naturopaths know that garlic also has anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and anti-viral activity.
Eat red / yellow onion / quercetin.
Onions are especially high in quercetin, a bioflavonoid. Quercetin inactivates cancer-causing agents. It inhibits enzymes that spur cancer growth. It also has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal activity.
Eat broccoli and other dark green leafy vegetables.
These are packed with antioxidants. Particularly strong is one called sulforaphane, that is known to help cancer prevention and boost detoxification enzymes. Broccoli also contains the antioxidants vitamin C, beta carotene, quercetin, indoles, glutathione and lutein.
Eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, turnips, kale, green cabbage and bok choy.) These are famous for their cancer prevention properties.
Take lipoic acid.
Lipoic acid can regenerate vitamins C and E, coenzyme Q10, and glutathione. This is why good naturopaths think it is so valuable in cancer prevention.
Lipoic acid is probably one of the most versatile and powerful of the antioxidants. It is also able to get into brain cells. It boosts levels of glutathione in cells.
Lipoic acid can also chelate (bind for removal) excess damaging metals such as copper.
Lipoic acid is an amazingly broad-spectrum antioxidant, mopping up a wide range of free radicals to aid cancer prevention.
Take N-acetyl cysteine (NAC.)
N-Acetyl Cysteine boosts levels of glutathione, which holistic GP’s and good naturopaths know is one of our most important natural antioxidants.
Take vitamin E.
Vitamin E is another potent antioxidant with anti-cancer activity. It has also been the subject of substantial clinical trials for its protective effects against cardiovascular disease.