Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Natural Ways to Prevent and Heal Cancer: Part 2 The Role of Diet

Preventing cancer, or maximizing the chances of healing from it, requires eliminating, or at least markedly reducing, the cancer promoters and increasing the use of the anti-promoters. As shown in the previous post, this will mean a major focus on the area of diet as a route to holistic wellness. In his book, Anticancer: A New Way of Life Dr. David Servan-Schreiber gives very detailed information on how to use natural ways to prevent and heal cancer, but I will give a relatively brief overview here.

It's important to note that Servan-Schreiber advocates using these methods in conjunction with cancer therapy. Also, note that healing cancer does not necessarily mean cure. Many people live a long time with cancer quiescent in their bodies, others may die of the disease, at peace with themselves having made many psychological and spiritual changes during their journey with cancer, still others eliminate the cancer from their bodies and live healthy lives. All of these may be said to have been healed.


"With all I've learned over these years of research, if I were asked to design a diet today that promoted the development of cancer to the maximum, I couldn't improve on our present diet." Richard Beliveau, Researcher and Professor in Biochemistry, University of Montreal.

Foods to Reduce or Avoid:

1. Foods causing inflammation in the body:
  • foods high on the glycemic index: These include refined flours and all products (breads, pasta, breakfast cereals etc.) made from them; sugar of all kinds (including honey, Maple and other syrups) and the manmade glucose-fructose combination; pop, industrial fruit juices, and alcohol. If high-glycemic foods are taken they should be combined with other foods, such as vegetables or good fats that will slow their assimilation into the body. Therefore candies, baked goods and alcohol should not be taken between-meals, but eaten with other foods.

  • vegetable oils, (except for olive oil, flaxseed/linseed, and canola oil) hydrogenated fats (trans fats), and fats in dairy, meat, or eggs from grain-fed animals (high in omega-6 fats), and dairy from cows given bovine growth hormone (BST). Oils in transparent or plastic bottles should not be used since they quickly degrade in light and heat and can become contaminated by the plastic bottle.

2. Foods known to contain contaminants, including:

  • non-organic meat and dairy products
  • fish at the top of the food chain.

Foods to Use Instead of the Above Foods:

  • replace high-glycemic foods with whole-grains, and products made from whole grains, and Basmati or Thai rice, quinoa, oats, millet and buckwheat.
  • replace high-glycemic drinks with water, or green tea which has cancer-fighting properties.
  • replace refined omega-6 vegetable oils with olive oil, flaxseed/linseed, or canola oil. These should be bought in dark-green or brown glass bottles and stored in a cool place. Flaxseed oil should be kept in the refrigerator, and generally should be consumed within 6 weeks of opening the bottle.
  • replace proteins with beans, lentils, or small amounts of organically-raised chicken or red meat.
  • replace non-organic dairy products with organic milk, cheese or other dairy products and use organic butter instead of margarine. Organic cattle should be grass-fed as this raises the levels of omega-3's and lauric acid in their flesh and their milk, making it more healthy for humans. Chickens should be free-range and any extra food provided should contain flaxseed to increase the omega-3 level in their eggs.
  • the majority of food eaten should be vegetables, beans and fresh or frozen fruits, which keep insulin levels low and contain substances called phytochemicals that help to prevent cancer and promote healing.

Many foods are powerful cancer anti-promoters, which work both in preventing cancer and healing cancer. Food has advantages over chemotherapeutic drugs - it is cheaper, generally taken three times a day, the patients can enjoy the treatment and many foods work on more than one aspect of cancer prevention or cure. Foods are also synergistic in that they enhance one another's healthy properties.

Particularly powerful foods that are good cancer anti-promoters are:

  • Green tea - 2 or 3 cups a day of green tea that has steeped for 10 minutes.
  • Soy, in those who have eaten it from adolescence, helps prevent breast cancer (though it can promote or aggravate cancer when taken as an isoflavone supplement). Soy should not be taken within a few days before or after Taxol treatments.
  • Tumeric - mix 1/4 teaspoon of pure tumeric with black pepper in 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and add to vegetables, salad dressings or soups.
  • Ginger - grate fresh ginger and add to vegetables or other foods or slice thinly and steep in boiling water for ginger 'tea'.
  • Mushrooms - shitake, maitake, kawaratake, enokitake and oyster mushrooms are powerful immune system stimulants.
  • Berries and citrus fruits - blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, strawberries, and cherries are all powerful cancer fighters working on several fronts to prevent and heal cancer. Citrus fruits are antiinflammatory.
  • Pomegranate Juice substantially reduces the development of prostate and some other cancers. Eight ounces daily with breakfast is recommended.
  • Cruciform Vegetables - most fresh vegetables have anti-cancer properties and both prevent and heal cancer, but the cruciform vegetables (cabbage, brussel sprouts, bok choy. broccoli, cauliflower etc.) are particularly powerful and should be eaten every day, lightly steamed or stir-fried (boiling may destroy the anti-cancer properties.
  • Garlic, onions, leeks, shallots and chives promte the death of cancer cells
  • Colourful vegetables including root vegetables inhibit the growth of several types of cancer.
  • Tomatoes when cooked aid longer survival from prostate cancer and olive oil helps assimilation. Canned tomato sauce without sugar can be used.
  • Herbs such as rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano and mint kill and reduce the spread of cancer cells.
  • Edible seaweeds such as nori, kombu, wakame, arame and dulse slow the growth of cancer.
  • Omega-3 oils reduce inflammation so helps prevent cancer cell growth and spread. Small fish (anchovies, sardines mackerel) and salmon are good sources, as are ground flaxseeds or flaxseed oil. If using canned sardines ensure they are not packed in sunflower oil.
  • Red wine slows the three stages of cancer development, but more than one glass a day may increase cancer.
  • Dark chocolate (more than 70 percent cocoa) contains antioxidents, proanthrocyanidins and polyphenols that slow the growth of cancer. Do not eat more than 20 grams a day or mix with dairy products (milk chocolate does not have anticancer effects.)

Although radical changes in diet can seem overwhelming, for those wanting to prevent cancer it can be done reasonably slowly, dropping one food at a time or just gradually eating less of a food and substituting a healthier choice. For those with cancer who wish to maximize their length of survival, changes should be faster, but do not need to be done all at once. Making lifestyle changes to promote healing cancer can reduce the sense of helplessness that many cancer patients feel with respect to their illness. And that in itself is healing.

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