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Carcinogenic Foods

It seems as though every time we turn around we hear about another thing that causes cancer. We may feel like we need to live in a bubble to prevent ourselves from future suffering. However, we do have more of an impact than we know when it comes to helping ourselves stay healthy. We may have a family history of cancer and think our genes will be our downfall, however we can prevent the expression of these genes if we do the right things with diet. Thus we can change our expression of our genotype (cancer genes) by eating well to prevent their expression (phenotype).

     Our diet plays a role in how our genes are expressed. Certain methods of cooking can increase carcinogens. For example, grilling meats on the barbecue can increase hetrocyclic amines (HCA) a chemical reaction to charring meats on high heat and an open flame. The worst five as reported by the "Cancer Project" to grill are chicken breast, steak, salmon, hamburger and pork. A high meat intake has been linked to colon and breast cancer.

     Studies have shown that alcohol consumption has a cumulative effect on the incidence of breast cancer in women. It has also been linked to stomach, colon, rectum, liver and ovarian cancer. There is a moderate increase in breast cancer in those who drink 3 to 6 alcoholic drinks per week. Women's body's do not metabolize alcohol the same way men's do. Alcohol seems to increase our estrogen levels which may lead to hormone related cancers. Men on the other hand, who have three drinks per week, especially red wine, tend to live longer. (I know ladies totally not fair!)

     Eating a diet high in meat, saturated and trans fats and low in fibre increase the incidences of breast, colon, lung, prostate and rectal cancers. According to research diet plays a role in at least 30 percent of all types cancers. This means that we do have some control in what we eat and improving our health and longevity.

Eating for Cancer Prevention

     What we can gather from the information above avoiding/limiting alcohol, saturated fats, grilled meats and low fibre diets helps in the prevention of cancer. In the July newsletter we highlighted which foods are beneficial for breast cancer prevention, view this newsletter now. Also eating a diet low on the glycemic index helps to prevent obesity, diabetes and also breast, prostate and colon cancer. The glycemic index refers to how quickly something turns into a sugar in the blood. Low glycemic means the food turns into a sugar less quickly than a high glycemic one. This keeps blood sugar stable. Amazingly researchers have found that the diabetic drug, metformin may actually prevent cancer. Keeping blood sugar stable prevents aging of the cells that may cause mutation such as in cancer development or other degenerative diseases. 

     Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is the best insurance for health. Choose 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables. They are rich in polyphenols and other cancer preventing compounds. Choose a wide variety of colours of the rainbow to ensure your nutritional needs are met because each colour and vegetable or fruit contains various compounds that are beneficial for health. Choose to eat lean proteins such as chicken, fish, turkey, game meats, legumes and soya (unless you have an estrogen positive type of cancer). Eat whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, rye and oats. Choose healthy fats such as olive, safflower or grapeseed oil, unprocessed coconut oil, raw nuts and seeds. Choose dairy products such as low-fat yogurt to get beneficial bacteria that helps your intestinal tract and immune system.

     On another note, research into food stuffs that prevent cancer has been quite fruitful (pardon the pun!).  Below is a list of a few great foods that will improve your health:

  • Brazil nuts contain the most selenium of all nuts. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that has been toted as an anti-cancer mineral.
  • Tomatoes cooked contain lycopene which may help prevent prostate disease.
  • Brocolli, cabbage, cauliflower and brocolli sprouts contain compounds called sulphurophane, lutein, zeaxanthin and indol 3 carbinol that has been found beneficial in colon, rectal, breast, prostate and skin cancers.
  • Flaxseed contains lignans that studies have been found to be beneficial in cases of prostate, breast and colon cancer.
  • Green tea has many benefits. The Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, states that green tea's polyphenols that are abundant in green tea, red wine and olive oil, may protect against various types of cancer. Dry green tea leaves contain  40% polyphenols by weight, may reduce the risk of the stomach, lung, colon, rectum, liver and pancreas cancer according to study findings.

     There are many other healthy foods as well as supplements that can improve your health and well-being. Cancer affects so many people in our society, I truly believe it is our focus on pre-packaged foods, our environment as well as the individual's ability to filter toxins to stay healthy. If you have a health concern please contact the clinic for an assessment at 519-827-9237.

This information is not meant to diagnose or treat diseases. Please seek the help of a qualified health practitioner if you have a serious health concern.