Wednesday, December 1, 2010


More than one third of Americans will develop cancer, but nearly two thirds will not. Research indicates that while we all carry cancer cells in us, most of have sufficient natural defenses to prevent these cells from becoming cancer. These defenses include our immune system, the ability of the body to control inflammation, and the nutrients in foods that reduce the growth of blood vessels needed by tumors to survive (angiogenesis) and support white blood cells known as natural killer cells (NK cells) which encourage cell death (apoptosis).

The cellular level is where cancer begins and where nutrition exerts its biggest effect. Fruits and vegetables contain not only vitamins and minerals, but also contain photochemical compounds that play key roles in the body. Phytochemicals aim to stop tumors at the harmless stage before they can develop into cancer. Therefore, a diet based on the regular intake of foods containing high levels of these compounds is a powerful weapon in the war against cancer. The daily consumption of anticancer nutrients is important as disabling cancer cells is a continuous job. Since we are constantly at risk for developing cancer, then we need a steady intake of nutrients to stop tumors at the harmless stage before they develop into cancer. Listed below are foods I recommend you have in your diet. No one food is a magic bullet, so try to incorporate a variety of these foods into your daily diet. The anticancer diet is quite simply a healthy diet that will help you to avoid not only cancer, but other life threatening and challenging diseases as well, and could put you in the healthy two-thirds. And please….eat organic whenever possible, especially for the dirty dozen.

Apples—Yes, there is much truth to the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. The apple’s high antioxidant count makes it a powerful cancer fighter and can significantly reduce the risk of developing several forms of cancer. The Flavonoid quercetin may prevent prostate cancer by blocking androgens, a hormone linked to prostate cancer. Apples slow the growth of breast cancer tumors and reduce the risk of colon cancer and liver cancer.

Artichokes—Artichokes contain high levels of antioxidants, specifically silymarin, known to protect against skin cancer.

Beans--Phytochemicals in beans have been shown to slow the growth of tumors and the fiber protects against some cancers.

Berries and Stone Fruits-- Blueberries are a delicious part of any anticancer diet, containing significant antioxidants. They are rich in phytochemicals called anthocyanins, which combat free-radical damage in the body and protect against cancer by inhibiting angiogenesis and promoting apoptosis (cancer cell death). Raspberries and strawberries are antiviral and anticancer and promote apoptosis. Berries also stimulate the elimination of carcinogenic substances. Peaches, plums, cherries and nectarines contain phytochemicals such as polyphenols, annthocyanins, catechins, and flavonoids. These are all known to keep the immune system strong and protect against cancer.

Cruciferous Vegetables (broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, radishes)—Vegetables in this family have an amazing ability to suppress the development of cancer cells Cruciferous vegetables (and their ability to produce sulforaphane) slow the development of cancer by detoxifying carcinogenic substances. They help prevent pre-cancerous cells from developing into malignant tumors; they promote the suicide of cancer cells (apoptosis) and starve tumors of their blood supply (angiogenesis). Each member of this family has a unique set of abilities, so eat a variety. For example, collard greens are very high in lutein, which has been associated with a decreased risk of developing breast, lung, ovarian and colon cancers. Spinach, kale and mustard greens also contain significant amounts of lutein. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are exceptional sources of anticancer compounds.

Citrus Fruits—Oranges and other citrus fruits contain anti-inflammatory flavonoids. They also stimulate the detoxification of carcinogens by the liver.

Dark Chocolate (cacao)—Dark chocolate (more than 70% cocoa) contains a number of antioxidants, proanthocyanidines and many polyphenols. These molecules slow the growth of cancer cells and limit angiogenesis.

Flaxseed—Although flax is mentioned in the Omega-3 section, it warrants its own section. Flaxseed is an excellent source of ALA (alpha linolenic acid); it contains immune-enhancing lignans, promotes tumor regression (inhibits tumor growth), apoptosis, and detoxification.

Iodine Rich Foods--Sea vegetables, yogurt, milk, eggs and shellfish supply the body with iodine, a powerful antioxidant that protects against breast cancer and helps to prevent the progression of the disease.

Garlic, Onions, Leeks, Shallots and Chives. The sulfur compounds in this group known as the Allium family slows the development of cancer by protecting against cancer cell growth and by offering protection from damage caused by carcinogenic substances. They promote cell death in colon, breast, lung and prostate cancer, as well as in leukemia.

Ginger—Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. It also helps reduce the creation of new blood vessels.

Green tea—Green tea is an exceptional source of anticancer compounds. It contains large amounts of catechins (flavanols), the heavyweights responsible for green teas’ anticancer activity, and of these catechins, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) is the key. The effects of EGCG are significant as studies have shown that it prevents the development of many tumors triggered by carcinogens and seems to be the leader in ability to inhibit the growth of new blood vessels needed for tumor growth and metastases (angiogenesis). White tea is now coming into the spotlight and could, in fact, have the strongest anti-cancer potential of all teas (more about this later).

Herbs and spices—Herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil and mint promote apoptosis in cancer cells and reduce their speed by blocking the enzymes they need to invade neighboring tissues. Rosemary is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and can inhibit the formation of HCAS, the carcinogenic compounds that form when you cook protein, by 75% (so use chopped rosemary in your marinade). Parsley and celery contain an anti-inflammatory that promotes apoptosis and blocks angiogenesis.

Mushrooms—Shiitake, maitake, enoki, crimini, portabella, oyster and yes, plain old button mushrooms support the immune system. Button mushrooms may also curb estrogen production, which is helpful in avoiding hormonal cancers such as breast cancer.

Nuts—Eating walnuts daily may help prevent breast cancer and thwart tumor growth because of their high levels of antioxidants, omega 3’s and phytosterols. Pecans and walnuts contain ellagic acid, which triggers apoptosis. Almonds also have cancer-fighting potential. Pistachios are high in antioxidants. Peanuts are a legume, not a nut, and should be avoided as they inflammatory and are often contaminated with aflatoxins, which are considered carcinogenic. While nuts have many redeeming qualities, they are high in fats and omega 6’s (more about this another time) so eat them sparingly. .

Omega 3’s—Found in some fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and some vegetables—more and more studies suggest that omega 3’s play a key role in cancer prevention. Omega 3’s reduce cancer cell growth in tumors and help reduce the spread of tumors (metastases).

Pomegranates—Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants; the juice helps protect against skin, prostate, colon and breast cancers. 

Red grapes and wine—Resveratrol, a compound in red grapes and red wine, stops the development of abnormal cells that can result in breast cancer

Selenium rich foods.--Mixed nuts, seafood and whole grain wheat flour. Selenium is an element found in soil, and is most abundant in foods grown in organic conditions. Selenium stimulates immune cells and particularly natural killer cells (frequently referred to as NK cells) however, be aware that while selenium is protective in proper doses, too much can be toxic. Brazil nuts contain high levels of selenium, so eat just one or two a few times a week. Selenium is also necessary for manufacturing glutathione, the body's own natural antioxidant and anti-cancer agent.

Spices--Mint, thyme, sage, rosemary, basil, ginger, cinnamon, oregano, tarragon are all powerful cancer fighters, fresh or dried, so eat a wide variety daily.

     Turmeric and Curry. –Curcumin, the ingredient in turmeric used to make curries, can kill cancer cells by inhibiting the enzymes that cause inflammation in the body; it is the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory known. Curcumin induces cell suicide (apoptosis) in breast cancer cells and inhibits angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels in the body. Antiangiogenic agents literally starve the tumor of its blood supply.

Vegetables and fruits rich in Carotenoids —Carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, tomatoes, persimmons, apricots and beets contain vitamin A and Lycopene (a carotenoid), which inhibit the growth cells associated with many cancers. Picture lycopene surfing your body on a seek and destroy mission, mopping up free radicals (those unstable molecules that damage cells, cell membranes, and DNA). Carrots also help protect your skin from the solar damage that leads to skin cancer.

Elyn Jacobs

Elyn Jacobs is a certified cancer coach and a breast cancer survivor.  She empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs.  Elyn helps women to uncover the nutritional deficiencies and emotional stress patterns that may have contributed to their cancer and to support their body as it activates it own natural ability to fight the disease. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services or to learn more about eating for life, please visit:


The American Cancer Society estimates that one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives and that one third of all cancer deaths are related to dietary factors. Picture yourself at lunch with seven girlfriends; chances are that one of you will be affected. There is nothing simple about defeating cancer, but there are many simple ways to help avoid getting it in the first place. Physicians often do not have the time to educate patients sufficiently, so it is up to us as individuals to educate ourselves and adopt lifestyles consistent with cancer prevention. We are willing to spend considerable money and time to rid ourselves of a tumor, but we spend little to educate ourselves about ways of avoiding disease in the first place. Some dismiss cancer risks by thinking “this will never happen to me”, while others are reluctant to lifestyle changes seen as difficult to make. It’s your life and you should stop cancer before it stops you. The best defense against breast cancer is a good offense.
Food, glorious food, is the key to a strong defense. One of the biggest problems with the modern American diet today is that it typically involves a huge deficiency of fresh fruits and vegetables. Our diet has unfortunately developed around speed, ease and the profitability of the foods being sold; we have become a grab-and-go society. We want cheaper food. We want convenience. We do not want to shop daily, so we want foods with long shelf lives, leading to our consuming preservatives instead of fresh produce abundant with nutrients. Eating is not an act devoid of consequences; it is without a doubt the simplest, most basic and natural way to actively arm oneself against a demon as formidable as cancer. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and other important foods is essential to preventing cancer. Our nutritional status either weakens us, making us susceptible to the development of cancer, or strengthens our bodies’ defense mechanisms, enhancing our ability to prevent renegade cells from becoming tumors.
To learn more about the anticancer diet and its ability to prevent cancer, please read my blog “Eating to Cheat Cancer”

Elyn Jacobs


There is nothing simple about battling cancer. Fighting cancer is a battle for your life so you owe it to yourself to get the best treatment possible for your cancer. New treatments and options are developing constantly, so it is up to you to decipher the options and make informed decisions. Likely right now you think “I can barely breathe, let alone function…how am I to figure all this out?” Well, unfortunately, your life and your quality of life depend on it. Let me share a few stories with you.
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994. She had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Five years later, she had a recurrence. The scans detected a tumor under her right arm. She went to a local hospital to have it removed. Here an unbelievable thing happened. While removing the tumor, the surgeon noticed an additional cancer…but did NOT remove it and later told her that while he saw it, he did not remove it as it was not listed in her paperwork. Such incompetency is completely unacceptable. I urged and insisted that she go to a specialist and this time she agreed. She went to a major cancer facility, and had the tumor removed. The cancer came back. Now she had to make a difficult choice. She was told that to remove all the cancer could mean compromising her ability to use her right arm. My mother was right handed, loved to sew, bake, quilt, garden…she would have been lost without the use of her arm. She took a chance and they removed as much of the cancer as they could, and advised more chemotherapy and radiation. They did a follow up scan on her and found a suspicious spot on her lung. The doctor suggested a biopsy that would amount to surgery as invasive as open heart surgery. I explained that my mother was too weak and would not survive the biopsy. They gave us no options. I then called other facilities and found that she could likely have a needle biopsy, much less invasive. I called a contact at the New York division of her facility and inquired as to why my mother’s doctor did not want to do a needle biopsy. This doctor looked at her charts and agreed that the needle biopsy was most certainly the way to go. I asked why that was not offered to her and he told me that the adjunct facility apparently was not aware of the procedure. The needle biopsy was performed in New York, no cancer; we could have lost her to an unnecessary surgical biopsy. I know that doctors are busy, and I know no one is perfect, but if your life is on the line, do you want results or excuses? In the summer of 2007, my mother’s cancer had spread to the brain. She was advised to have radiation, which would mean she would have to stop chemotherapy. I was concerned and took this to another oncologist. She explained that my mother was very sick, but likely the cancer in her brain was slower moving than elsewhere in her body, and if she stopped the chemo to take the radiation, the cancer would quickly takeover and kill her. She took the radiation, was bedridden for over a month, and died soon after.
My cousin was diagnosed with cancer of the thymus. She went to a well known cancer facility, and considering her cancer is somewhat rare, was likely in the right place. However, when Barbara asked the surgeon if she would be able to wear a bathing suit after the surgery, his response was “how dare you ask such a question, you should be glad to be alive!” Being the feisty person that she is, she responded “ok, doc, let me put it this way. After you cure me and I am eternally grateful to you, will I be able to wear a bathing suit without looking like Quasimodo?”

A parent at our sons’ school was diagnosed with breast cancer this past year. She called me, wanted to talk about it. She asked me to accompany her to the doctor as she felt he was condescending and unwilling to answer her questions with the detail she needed.
I was the lucky one. In the fall of 2006, my mammogram was less than perfect. I was called back, and the doctor told me things did not look good and that I needed to get a biopsy right away. It took me less than five minutes to get home, and the phone was ringing. It was my Ob/Gyn. He assured me everything would be fine, but explained that in my case, I would require a stereotactic biopsy, and it would be tricky one given the location, but he recommended someone who could perform it. (To keep this short, he was right, others told me this was not possible) Well, this radiologist was amazing, and called me less than 24 hours later with the bad news and recommendations for two doctors (same specialists my Ob/Gyn recommended); she told me I needed to call right away. I did, and as it was the Friday before a long weekend, they were closed. I called her back and she said not to worry, she would make the appointments for me. I saw one doctor that Monday (yes, on a holiday) and the other a week later. The first doctor was wonderful, patient and explained my options, but yet we went home numb and scared. When we saw the second doctor, my husband and I knew immediately that he was our man. He brought in a plastic surgeon and again, we knew we were in good hands. I cannot tell you what difference it makes when you feel cared for, in control. My team was amazing. From start to finish, my journey was expedited by helpful and talented doctors. I am eternally grateful to them for empowering me to make the best decisions, for being open minded to my concerns and ideas and for understanding that there is life after cancer. This is why I believe everyone needs an advocate. Because at the time in your life when you can barely function, and at a time when you most feel the need to be taken care of, you are the one who needs to be proactive and assertive. It is now that you need an experienced person by your side that can help you navigate the process and get the care you deserve. You don’t have to go it alone.

Elyn Jacobs

Monday, November 29, 2010


I believe the best cure for cancer is to avoid getting it in the first place. My mother succumbed to breast cancer in 2007, after a long, grueling battle. I was diagnosed just prior to her death and my sister a year later. We do not carry the BRCA genes, but were told there was likely some link, even possibly a BRCA 3 or 4 not yet discovered. My mother always said “I never meant to get cancer.” Nobody intends to get it and nobody should ever feel at fault for getting cancer. Everyone should be aware of early warning signs and things one can do to help prevention. For us, our common link appears to be a weak immune system. All my adult life I suffered through lengthy and debilitating colds (as did my mother), some lasting for months at a time. Never did I realize this to be a red flag for a weak immune system, or that a weak immune system could compromise my body’s ability to kill cancer cells before they could become problematic. Cancer is a multifactorial disease. Simply put, several elements combine to either produce or eliminate a cancer cell. We are all exposed to carcinogens daily, yet we do not all develop cancer. Be aware of the early warning signs that you might be at risk. Know the possible causes (Genetic, Environmental, and Lifestyle). Thankfully the word is getting out that early detection saves lives. Still, too many lives are lost to Cancer. Word needs to get out that prevention is the best cure and that for many cancers; current research indicates that this is indeed possible.

There are many lifestyle changes or modifications which help to avoid getting some cancers. Reduce your exposure to toxins by using safe cleaning products and avoid beauty products that contain carcinogens and toxins (parabens, formaldehyde for example). Reduce stress; stress suppresses the immune system….as most of us cannot avoid stress, indulge in de-stressing activities. Yoga, meditation, massages help combat stress. Can’t bear to do any of that? Listen to calming music; the power of music is amazing. Get enough sleep. Eat your vegetables! Eat organic whenever you can. The American Cancer Society estimates that one third of all cancer deaths are related to dietary factors. Turn that around and consider that by increasing your consumption of cancer fighting foods, you can significantly reduce your cancer risk. Vegetables in the cruciferous family (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc) are powerful cancer fighters. Green tea, curcumin (curry), rosemary and resveretrol (think red wine and red grapes, but go easy on the wine) support cells against cancer. Eat healthy proteins as your immune system needs that too. Try a spicy curry dish…. broccoli, black or hot pepper combined with curry powder gives a powerful punch to renegade cells. Eat ground flax seeds. Flax contains lignans, plant-based compounds known to shrink existing breast and colon cancer tumors and stop new ones from forming in test tube and animal studies. Ask your doctor to check your Vitamin D level. Make sure you get adequate omega 3’s and b-12. Don’t’ smoke! Partake in moderate exercise (vigorous exercise can tax your immune system). Suffer from arthritis or asthma? Chronic inflammation stresses the immune system and could put you at higher risk. Eat anti-inflammatory foods like cherries, olive oil, green vegetables and blueberries. Consider taking anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as Advil when symptoms are severe. Most of all, talk to your doctor about your risk and your health. Consider that in a hurricane, it is usually the weak trees that fall; strengthen your body so it can help you avoid cancer.

May your tree stand tall.

Elyn Jacobs