Tag Archives: antioxidants

From Awareness to Action: The Anti-Cancer Way of Life

As the pinking of America during national breast cancer awareness month gives way to the reds and blues of the national election, it occurs to me that we cannot let our awareness of a disease that still kills one out of every 8 women in this country be packed away with the ribbons, teeshirts, and pink running shoes until next October. Awareness is meant to be a catalyst for action. And taking action against breast cancer boils down to prevention. I keep a clipping on my bulletin board, a letter to the editor of the NY Times that speaks to rising health care costs: “the 800-pound gorilla in the room – that large percentage of health care dollars consumed by a small percentage of the population who have illnesses that are preventable.” It goes on to say that the cost savings of people taking responsibility for their own health.. to stop smoking, overeating, and start exercising, would far outweigh the trillions of dollars spent on treating disease that is preventable. The writer is a breast cancer surgeon who in making the argument would presumably rather go out of business than perform  another mastectomy that could have been prevented.

And yet the National Cancer Institute’s expenditure of dollars for prevention is less than ten percent of its’ entire budget, despite the fact that most breast cancers are not a result of genetic risk, but of the risks we take with our god-given health.  When Kyle issued her cleansing challenge last month, simple sugars and carbs were at the very top of her NO GO list because not only do they cause blood sugar irregularities, hormone imbalances, and the dreaded belly fat, they cause insulin levels to rise. That in turn triggers the secretion of another molecule called  “insulinlike growth factor” (IGF-1) whose job it is to stimulate cell growth, an effect that not only creates inflammation in the body (a now recognized risk for cancer) but ultimately provides fuel for cancer cells! To make matters worse, this lethal spinoff of elevated blood sugar and insulin levels also promotes the ability of tumors to invade neighboring tissues. So when we take action to reduce our intake of simple carbs and sugars and find (as most of us did during the cleanse) that we are reducing inches around our waistlines, we are at the same time significantly reducing our greater risks for breast cancer… and obesity, diabetes, and heart disease too.

A study that tracked breast cancer patients for 6 years showed that those who ate the most foods rich in carotenoids, the brightly colored, red, orange and yellow fruit and veg lived longer than those who ate less. Lesson: eat all you want!

As we move forward into ever more optimal food choices that not only help us lose weight, but also boost our immunities against disease, I’d like to share with you some of the latest scientific information from a recent book that is all the rage on the subject.  ANTI-Cancer: A New Way of Life, has been credited with causing a sea change in the way providers and patients now confront cancer. It is written by David-Servan-Schreiber, a scientist, M.D, PhD. who when diagnosed with brain cancer refused to accept it as a death sentence. Over a 15-year period he learned what he needed to do to fight the disease and cure himself of the “incurable.”  Please check out the following Top 10 of Dr. Servan-Schrieber’s recommended Anti-cancer foods:

1) Green Tea 2 to 3 cups a day– steeped for at least 5-8 minutes to release the magic “catechins” that  block the growth of blood vessels tumors need to grow.

2)  Olives and Olive Oil – Black olives (vs. green) in salads, risottos, etc., and cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil – one half to one tablespoon used daily in cooking – are particularly rich in cancer fighting antioxidants.

3) Turmeric spice the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory known also helps stimulate the death of cancer cells. Mix 1/4 tsp. with 1/2 TB of olive oil and a generous pinch of black pepper. A few drops of agave nectar can remove any slight bitter taste. Add to vegetables, soups, salad dressings.

4) Ginger root is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. Add grated ginger to a wok vegetable mixture; marinate fruits in lime juice and grated ginger and a few drops of agave nectar. Make an infusion or tea by cutting into one inch slices and steeping in boiling water for 10-15 minutes.

5) Cruciferous vegetables (Brussells sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, chinese cabbage) contain powerful anticancer molecules called indole-3 carbinoles (I3Cs). They prevent pre-cancerous cells from turning into malignant tumors and promote the suicide of cancer cells. Cover and steam briefly or stir-fry rapidly in a wok with a little olive oil, sea salt, etc. Note: boiling destroys the anticancer properties.

6) Vegetables/Fruits rich in Carotenoids – carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, persimmons, apricots, beets and all the bright-colored (orange, red, yellow, and green) fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin A and lycopene, which inhibit the growth of cells of several cancer lines.

There are significantly fewer breast cancers among Asian women who have eaten soy since adolescence; those that do occur are less aggressive with higher survival rates.

7) Soy compounds (edamame beans, miso, tofu, tamari, tahini, soy milk, etc.) block the stimulation of cancer cells by estrogens and the development of blood vessels that feed tumor growth. Use tofu, tempeh, miso, with onions, garlic, curry in vegetable dishes and wok meals.

8) Mushrooms – shitake, maitake (has the most pronounced effect on the immune system), portobello, oyster and thistle oyster all have properties that stimulate the reproduction and activity of immune cells. Use in soups, vegetables, oven-grilled or stir-fried in a wok with other vegetables.

Red wine, Pinot noir in particular, is rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant protector of healthy cells against aging. When taken in moderation it  is known to have hormone balancing benefits.

9) Red wine – contains resveratrol a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to slow the progressive stages of cancer development.  One glass of wine provides the observed effect – but caution, more is not better. Avoid in pregnancy.

last but not least! Drum roll please……

10) Dark chocolate – contains a number of antioxidants that limit the growth of cancer cells and the blood vessels that feed tumors. Eat a few squares of dark chocolate instead of dessert at the end of a meal (with your green tea!) Or melt dark chocolate in a double boiler, then pour over pears or any fruit combination. Also delicious with grated ginger or tangerine peel.

Let’s keep up the momentum …if adding any of these AntiCancer foods to your daily diet helps you feel better, stronger, calmer, safer and more balanced as you go about your everyday life…We’d LOVE to hear from you…and as always any great recipes you come up with please pass them on by commenting on the blog!

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The GOOD stress: Doing what comes naturally, deliberately.

Contemplating the colors in Oregon wine country (www.davidburchphotography.com)

...not being particularly busy or productive... just being

My 32nd wedding anniversary landed smack on Thanksgiving this year so our celebration was going to have to take place on a different day, crammed into an already crammed family weekend.  So little time all the time. Wednesday before the big feast it was noses to the proverbial grindstone from early morning on. Around lunchtime the sky cleared and the sun (to borrow a few great Joni Mitchell  lyrics), poured in like butterscotch and brought us to our senses. When this happens in the Pacific Northwest in late November you know you are being self-destructive or for that matter courting Vitamin D-deficiency to remain indoors. If you know what’s good for you,  you drop what you’re doing  and get out there. In any way, shape or form you can maneuver or will it to happen ….Otherwise you miss out on one of the all-time great stress reduction opportunities: the unabashed partaking of unstructured time. I repeat UNstructured time. The kind that allows you to spend some time in your life not being particularly busy or productive – just being. Say to yourself or aloud something like… I am going to do what comes naturally for a change, what feels good to me, relaxing, engaging, comforting and nurturing of my mind and spirit and I don’t care who knows it! ( btw: whether you are your own boss or not, rest assured that your stressed adrenals need this break as much as you do and that all you have to lose is your lethargy!)

Evidently, I know what’s good for me because on this day I said first to myself, and then out loud to my husband, let the anniversary begin! It goes without saying that I had a willing accomplice. The decision that we should stop what we were doing, jump in the car this minute, drive to a stellar spot, preferably a vista overlooking grapevines and peaking autumn hues, whilst sipping a heart healthy glass of red wine, was taken unanimously and without regret….  it felt a little like ice-skating on Lake Michigan at night as a kid in Chicago.

Speaking of the fermented grape, not to be sniffed at is the long-term scientific evidence that red wine has a protective effect against heart disease (Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2004 Jun;28(6):829-47). This is due in large part to it’s many plant compounds especially the celebrity antioxidant resveratrol, known to have powerful anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties. In recent studies resveratrol has been found to act upon specific genes to protect cells against aging, and also to slow the developmental stages of cancer. (Journal of Immunology 2000;164:6509-19; Journal of Biological Chem 2005;280:17038-45.)

Red wine, pinot noir in particular, is rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant found in the skin and seeds of the grape (which is why the reds have more of it) that protects healthy cells against aging. It is also known to have hormone balancing benefits, YAY!

Most promising when it comes to women, wine, and hormones, is the fact that red wine is medically classified as a phyto-(plant) estrogen thought to enhance natural hormone balance! Evidently, unlike other types of alcohol red wine also  inhibits the action of aromatase (Ann NY Acad Sci. 2002 Jun;963:239-46), an enzyme that increases estrogen conversion in fat cells and can lead to estrogen dominance and thus, increased risks for breast cancer (www.theseventhwomanfoundation.org) But lest you conclude that the best way to balance your hormones naturally is to drink more red wine, keep in mind that we are talking about moderate consumption here, no more than one glass a day according to the experts. Of further note is that the reported health benefits of red wine in particular are significantly enhanced when consumed with meals, especially as part of a Mediterranean diet. This is news we can use to explore our options!

But I digress. Once the anniversary countdown began I never skipped a beat in moving myself towards balance.  The feeling of lightness from within. Of not living in my head for a change. I felt calm and energized all at the same time and saw it for what it was: the absence of stress. And I knew that I would have to do this again sometime, maybe not on a working day, but some other time, again, SOON.

What is your personal balance plan?  Jump in the conversation and please leave a comment right here (scroll down) on our blog so that we all can learn and share best practice for engaging in guilt-free, unstructured time. This is another of our essential truths:  You are unique. What’s right for your friend, mother or sister is not necessarily right for you. But we can all explore the paths to balance together.

Doing what comes naturally (www.davidburchphotography)

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Filed under Bioidentical Hormones, Candace Burch