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Monday, November 29, 2010

IT IS THE WEAK TREE THAT COMES DOWN IN A HURRICANE

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
elyn@elynjacobs.com