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Friday, April 22, 2011

Is Aspartame Safe for Diabetics?


I recently saw a Tweet stating that aspartame was safe for Diabetics; talk about misleading information.  Aspartame is not safe for anyone and should never have been approved as safe for human consumption.  Aspartame is one of the most common artificial sweeteners used today, and yet it has the potential to damage your nervous system—your brain and nerves—leading to a variety of symptoms from migraine headaches to unexplained seizures, dizziness, depression, and vision problems. Aspartame has been found to create MS like symptoms in patients which can result in false diagnosis. It is linked to cancer, obesity, and diabetes. 

Aspartame was found to cause various types of primary brain tumors in rats when studies were done in the 1970’s.  Even though these studies showed a very clear connection between aspartame and brain cancer, the FDA approved its use as a table-top sweetener in July 1981.  Two years later, in July 1983, aspartame was approved for widespread use in diet beverages.  One year after that, the number of human brain tumors in the US suddenly increased by 10%! Aspartame is comprised of 10% methanol, 40% aspartic acid, and 50% phenylalanine.  Methanol has been proven to cause damage to the optic nerve which can cause blindness, and aspartic acid has been proven to create holes in the brains of mice.  Phenylalanine breaks down into DKP, a tumor-causing agent.  The creation of DKP in the body is one way aspartame can trigger cancer.  Another way is partly related to what happens to aspartame when it exceeds 86 degrees Fahrenheit, as it often does when, for instance, diet drinks are being shipped in hot trucks or stored in hot warehouses.  At higher than 86 degrees, the methanol in aspartame converts to formaldehyde and then to formic acid, both of which are potent carcinogens. And according to Dr. Joseph Mercola, aspartame is, by far, the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods.

Brain cancer is not the only type of cancer aspartame has been linked to. Leukemia, lymphoma, breast, testicular and endometrial cancer have also been associated with aspartame.  Parents may want to be extra diligent about checking the ingredients list of anything sweet (including non-food items) they give their children as aspartame is commonly used to sweeten medicines, antibiotics, vitamins and toothpaste.  Given the high rate of brain cancers and leukemias in children these days, it would seem to me that aspartame should be avoided (or banned).  I cringe when I read about the ignorant school officials who started the war on sugary sodas in schools only to replace them with diet sodas.  Please, have they no common sense? Soda of any type does not belong in school, and as bad as sugar is, artificial sweeteners are worse. However, before someone suggests they go back to sugar soda, keep in mind that one teaspoon of sugar can devastate the immune system for up to six hours, leaving you vulnerable to attack from viruses, bacteria, cancer cells and parasites.

As to aspartame being safe for diabetics?  Some would have you believe that anything without calories is safe for diabetics.  However, according to Dr. David Brownstein, “Aspartame is particularly toxic for diabetics because it disrupts the body’s normal response to glucose, which is to cause the pancreas to release insulin. The main symptom of diabetes is high blood sugar due to the body's inadequate production or utilization of insulin. Therefore, aspartame is doing exactly the opposite of what diabetics need.” Dr. Brownstein goes on to say, “Unfortunately, even the American Diabetic Association has fallen for this propaganda, and has accepted the idea that aspartame is a suitable sugar substitute for diabetics.”

Aspartame is not safe for diabetics or anyone else. All sources of aspartame sweetener need to be avoided; try pure stevia as a replacement. 

Elyn Jacobs

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Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Inc. and a breast cancer survivor.  She helps women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and she educates about how to prevent recurrence and new cancers.  She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life.

Read more:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Dark Side of Peanuts and Dairy

Peanut butter is a staple in many children’s diets.  Peanuts (which, by the way are a legume, not a nut) are hign in protein, so why not eat them?  Peanuts, and expecially peanut butter are often contaminated by a fungus-produced toxin known as Aflatoxin (AF).  Aflatoxins often occur in crops in the field prior to harvest, but after harvest contamination can occur if crop drying is delayed and crops are stored in moist conditions.  Aflatoxins are found occasionally in milk, cheese, corn, peanuts, cottonseed, nuts, almonds, figs, spices as well as in feeds for animals (the reason AF is found in dairy and meat products).  However, the commodities with the highest risk of AF contamination are corn, peanuts and cottonseed.  Peanut butter is often contaminated with levels of AF as much as 300 times the amount judged to be acceptable in U.S. food, while whole peanuts were much less contaminated.  This disparity between peanut butter and whole peanuts originates at the peanut factory.  The best peanuts, which fill “cocktail” jars, are hand selected from a moving conveyor belt, leaving the worst, moldiest nuts to be delivered to the end of the belt to make peanut butter.  The visual here makes me never want to even look at peanut butter again.  So besides the unappealing idea of eating moldy peanuts, what’s the real issue?  AF’s have shown to cause liver cancer in rats, and are thought by many to be the most potent chemical carcinogen ever discovered.  So where’s the FDA?  The FDA allows AF’s at low levels in nuts, seeds and legumes because they are considered “unavoidable contaminants.”  The FDA believes occasionally eating small amounts of aflatoxin poses little risk over a lifetime, and that it is not practical to attempt to remove it from food products.   The problem here is the word “occasional.”  Occasional is a bit like the phrase “in moderation”; the problem being that it is easy to have too much of something you enjoy.

To help minimize your exposure to aflatoxin, the FDA recommends purchasing only major brands of nuts and nut butters and to discard any shelled nuts that look discolored or moldy. Some medical research has indicated that a diet including vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, celery and parsley may reduce the carcinogenic effects of aflatoxin, and a study by the Johns Hopkins University also suggests that foods high in chlorophyll can be helpful.  Green vegetables - asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green cabbage, celery, collard greens, green beans, green peas, kale, leeks, green olives, parsley, romaine lettuce, sea vegetables, spinach, and turnip greens are concentrated sources of chlorophyll. 

Who is most susceptible to AF contamination and its cancer-producing effects?  Children are major consumers of peanut butter.  (I will add that I practically survived on peanut butter for much of my early adulthood, and certainly suspect that was part of my demise.) Children are also major consumers of dairy products, and a well-known study called The China Study produced compelling evidence that casein, the protein in cow’s milk, helps promote and nurture tumor development.  The study produced significant evidence that a high-animal protein diet combined with even a small amount of aflatoxin resulted in very high rates of liver cancer in adults as well as children.  They also found that in those people who consumed considerable AF’s and very little animal protein, cancer rates were very low.   They found that casein, and very likely all animal proteins, may be the one of the most cancer-causing substances that we consume.  Adjusting the amount of dietary casein we eat may have the power to turn on and off cancer growth. What does this mean?  It means that while we should still be concerned with AF’s, it makes sense to reduce our animal protein consumption. (Overall, animal protein is not the best protein source for most people. While a high animal-protein diet can promote cancer growth, plant protein does not, even at high levels of intake). To reduce your animal protein consumption, consider almond, rice or hemp milk instead of cow’s milk, and switch to a mostly- whole foods, plant-based diet.

 Need another reason to toss the peanuts?  Peanuts are an inflammatory food, which means consumption increases inflammation in the body.  Inflammation is known to provide a cancer promoting environment in the body.  Can’t imagine giving up peanut butter?  Try almond butter.  It may take some getting used to, but your body will thank you and may just find it delicious!

For more information, please visit:

Elyn Jacobs
elynjacobs.wordpress.com
elynjacobs.blogspot.com

Elyn is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer
Foundation, a certified cancer coach, and a breast cancer survivor.  Elyn helps women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and educates to prevent recurrence and new cancers.  She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services, please visit:  http://elynjacobs.wordpress.com


This post was updated on January 11th, 2012

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

CT Scans, Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?

A computer tomography (CT) scan is a medical imaging technology that uses computer software and a series of X-ray views to produce detailed images of the inside of your body.  It provides much more information than regular X-rays. CT scans are particularly useful for patients who have suffered internal injuries from car accidents and trauma.  However, in most cases, doctors (and worse, physician assistants) are ordering these scans for minor bicycle and sporting accidents.   As you lie on a bed and move through a ring-shaped CT scan machine, your body is bombarded by a series of X-ray beams with dangerously high levels of radiation.  The radiation from a CT scan is equivalent to 500 or more chest X-rays, and a full body CT scan is equivalent to 900 X-rays.  Studies show that this radiation overload can increase your risk of cancer. An occasional CT scan is useful diagnostically, but you should avoid this procedure unless your life depends on it.

So if CT scans are so dangerous, why do doctors routinely order them?  I am sure that scans likely bring a sizable income to hospitals and medical facilities. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, an Osteopathic Physician and prominent author and speaker, many CT scans are unnecessary but are still administered because:
·         Doctors don’t want to be sued for malpractice if they miss something.
·         Some patients ask their doctors for unnecessary scans because they are convinced of the benefits of advanced diagnostic tools. The tools they hear about from advertisements don’t even disclose the risks of radiation.
·         Some doctors want to screen worried and at-risk patients – like former smokers for lung cancer – “just to be safe.”
·         Doctors seek to earn back their investment on the technology.
·         Commercially advertised whole-body CT scans want to “find everything wrong with you” and target patients who can afford the procedure.

CT scans are also routinely used to monitor the success of cancer treatments and to aid with radiation therapy placement.  For those battling cancer, this is a major issue.  No one wants to die of cancer, but certainly the “cure” should not be part of the battle.  A new study published in the journal Cancer explains that these CT scans actually cause secondary cancers.  According to John Boone, coauthor of the study, CT expert  and professor in the University of California (UC) Davis Department of Radiology,   "This is the first study that I am aware of that shows that diagnostic CT scans cause cancer with statistical significance.  The organizations that recommend these protocols need to reevaluate this aggressive use of CT and maybe opt for MRI or ultrasound."  Sounds like good medicine to me.   

Learn more:
http://www.naturalnews.com/032120_CT_scans_cancer.html#ixzz1JyO3wA7U
Elyn Jacobs


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Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Inc. and a breast cancer survivor.  She helps women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and she educates about how to prevent recurrence and new cancers.  She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life.





Monday, April 18, 2011

The Road to Recovery

Surgery for removal of cancer can be tough on the body; pain and swelling are common, and often, as in the case of mastectomy, arms need to be retrained to perform even the most basic tasks.  I remember I was surprised that I could not pull a sweater over my head, wash my own hair or even get a glass out of the cabinet.  I was told I could and should exercise.  While I likely over-did things by walking the stairs in my building upon returning from the hospital, I knew that my recovery would be quicker if I got moving.  However, I knew I had to be careful, a lesson I learned after my stair climbing; had I not had the sense to go right to bed, I would have collapsed on the floor.   I also embraced massage as I was told that massage would relax me and help reduce the swelling.  The road to recovery is long, but help along the way is good medicine.

Physical therapy is very helpful post-surgery.  Physical therapists work with patients to alleviate physical issues that may arise from surgery or medical treatment for cancer. Through hands on interventions and therapeutic exercise, therapists help patients improve flexibility, strength, endurance and range of motion following treatment, thus improving their function and quality of life.  Physical therapists trained in lymphedema can be especially helpful if you suffer from or are at risk for this condition. I had a wonderful therapist, Amy Shapses, who helped me regain the use of my arms by instructing me in specific exercises to regain my strength and range of motion.  Her sessions hastened my recovery, mentally as well as physically.  Physical therapy is covered by insurance companies, so be sure to ask for a prescription.   

In the past, patients were often advised to rest; now, doctors are advising their patients to get moving.  Patients undergoing treatment, as well as those who have completed treatment benefit from exercise.  Exercise helps patients feel better, enhances quality of life and reduces side effects such as fatigue and anxiety.  Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight may reduce the chance for recurrence.  How much exercise is ideal?  That depends… start slow and work your way up to 30 and then 45 minutes a day, and increase your intensity as you go along.  Walking, jogging and cycling are great options, but don’t forget strength training.  Many cancer patients are not able to perform the same activities as they had pre-surgery, so until you regain your strength and range of motion, you may need some assistance.  If you use a trainer, be sure that he or she fully understands your particular limitations and needs, and again, find a lymphedema specialist if you suffer from this condition. Many organizations offer free exercise classes for cancer patients and survivors, so ask your doctor if there are services available in your area.  A few I know of who specialize in post-cancer care are the Lahey Clinic/ YMCA of Greater Boston and Strength for Life in New York.  Strength for life also offers free wellness retreats, which can help patients and survivors move forward in their journey. 

 Many patients are fearful of massage as they fear pain or discomfort or that it will in some way encourage lingering cancer cells to spread throughout the body.  On the contrary, massage helps reduce stress, post-surgery swelling and pain is recommended for patients.  Massage, acupuncture, nutritional therapy and other treatments associated with complementary medicine can support patients during their journey, and more and more allopathic (conventional) cancer facilities are incorporating integrative medicine into their programs.  


The cancer journey is not an easy one, so laugh, love, cry, and take advantage of all that is available to make your journey more successful.
Elyn Jacobs
elyn@elynjacobs.com
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Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Inc. and a breast cancer survivor.  She helps women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and she educates about how to prevent recurrence and new cancers.  She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life.

Resources:



Thursday, April 7, 2011

The “A” team, My Story


I went to my Ob/Gyn yesterday for my routine semi-annual checkup.  I have known him for almost 30 years.   He commented that I am four years post treatment, and he can’t believe it. I told him that he was instrumental in my cancer journey and that his support made all the difference.  He made a comment to me that made me realize I need to tell my story.  He said “90% of my patients do not need me.  The other ten, well, they really need me.” Well, he was right, and that is exactly the reason I became a cancer coach….because not everyone has a knight-in-shining armor (or a whole team of them as things turn out).  Sure, he got me through a miscarriage, delivered my two boys; but when cancer struck, I knew I was blessed with an amazing doctor. So here is my story.
There are some things you never forget.  A week after a routine mammogram, the doctor’s office calls and says I need to come in for additional films.  My first thought is, great, they botched something up.  She assures me this is not the case, and could I come in tomorrow.  I do this, they take more films, and I am asked to wait.  A few minutes later, the nurse says the doctor would like to see me.  My heart sinks as I know this cannot be good news. Dr. Berson points to the films on the wall; my left breast resembles the galaxy.  He explains that the white dots are micro-calcifications, and that 30% of the time this is nothing, 30% of the time these are pre-cancerous, and 30% of the time, well it is cancer.  He looks at me quite squarely and says, “This is the 30% where I say you need to get a biopsy right away”.  With that he says I will require a stereo-tactic biopsy, and while he cannot do it, he can recommend an excellent radiologist who can do the procedure.  I leave his office and when I walk into my apartment minutes later (screening facility was in the building next to mine), the phone is ringing.  It is my Ob/Gyn, Marc Engelbert, calling to say that he had just heard and wanted to assure me I would be ok and that he agrees that the radiologist I am to see is top-notch.   I drop my films off at Susan Drossman’s office and after reading them, Susan calls me.  Yes, she can do this procedure and I am to call her office to schedule.  I call and the receptionist says,”Oh, didn’t the doctor tell you she would be away for two weeks?”  No.  True, it was the week before Christmas, but my heart sank.  I called Dr. Engelbert and asked for another recommendation, collected my films and schlepped to this other doctor.  With minutes of seeing my films, he says he cannot do this procedure, that I need a surgical (and more invasive) biopsy.  Scared, I call back Marc and he says if there is any way I can handle the wait, I should wait until Dr. Drossman returns.  Ok, I say, I can do this.  After the procedure, Dr. Drossman tells me that she will call me with the results in 24 hours.  Sure, I think, right.  23 hours later, when my son is home from nursery school with a play-date and a mom I barely know (who is now a dear friend), the phone rings. It is Susan saying she needs to talk to me.  I abruptly tell the mom that I have an important phone call and disappear into the bathroom.  Susan tells me that I have stage one breast cancer and that I need to see a surgeon right away.  She gives me two names and I hang up.  The phone rings before I can dial, and it is Marc, again calling with support and agreeing that either of the doctors suggested would be perfect, but that I should see them both.  I call the first, gone for the weekend, which happened to be one with a Monday holiday.  I call the second, gone too.  I call Susan back and she offers to make the appointments herself.  Ten minutes later she says she was able to reach one at home and he will see me on Monday morning, despite the holiday.  
On Monday, my husband and I see this doctor, a lovely man who examines me, looks at my films and explains my cancer.  He says that he could do a lumpectomy with radiation, am I aware that radiation causes recurrences and new cancers?  Before I can answer, he tells me that it is not of concern here as I have so much cancer in my breast  that he would end up removing so much breast tissue that I wouldn’t have anything left; he suggests a skin- sparing mastectomy with reconstruction.   Oddly, this brings relief.  We leave scared.  I am able to see the other surgeon, Dr. Alex Swistel, a week later.  The doctor walks in with a smile and the first thing he says is I am going to be fine…and we could tell he meant it!  He says that my only option is a mastectomy and asks if I wear evening gowns or bathing suits.  I say not too many gowns, but certainly bathing suits.  He then explains that instead of putting a scar on the side or down the middle of the breast (both obvious with skimpy clothing) he would go in from the crease under the breast.   After answering our questions, I am scheduled for surgery in two and a half weeks…I must wait until the biopsy wound heals.  I ask if it is okay if we go away, perhaps to a spa, is it okay for me to get a massage.  A resounding yes, great idea.  He tells us he will find the plastic surgeon he works with so I don’t have to come back for another appointment.
He leaves and my husband and I say “he’s our man, our ticket out of this mess”.  In walks the plastic surgeon.  Dr. Talmor is wonderful; she explains the different implants and says that because I am so thin, I will need silicone or saline implants (rather than my own fat or tissue).  We are told that for me, silicone would be likely be best, but it was my choice.  I take her advice, she explains the procedure and soon we are on our way.   We go home relieved, much of the fear abated. 
About a week later, I come to the conclusion that I would like to have both breasts removed.  I call Dr. Swistel and he agrees completely.  I also ask him if I can keep my nipples, something I heard was now possible.  He says that in fact, he and Dr. Talmor had just come from a symposium on this and he believes I am a perfect candidate.  He cautions me no promises…if he sees anything he does not like, the nipples come off.  I now feel cared for and in control of my cancer.  I am ready to do battle.
I was the lucky one, and I share my story so that women will realize that they deserve the “A” team.  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. In addition, I had my husband, standing by me, taking notes and providing strength, and it made all the difference. Everyone says you need to be your own advocate, I say you need to bring 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 is expected to be proactive and assertive, and that is just too much to ask.   
Fighting cancer is a battle for your life; you owe it to yourself to get the best treatment possible for your cancer.  My story is not one of courage, it is one of inspiration.  I wish for all women to be in control of their cancer and to be part of their team.  Teams work together.  If you find it hard to communicate with your team, fire them and find a new one.  Information is empowering; slow down, you have time to make informed decisions.   You owe it to yourself to get it right the first time.

Elyn Jacobs
elyn@elynjacobs.com

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cancer and our Children: Protecting our Future Generations

Cancer rates are not falling, and alarmingly, pediatric and adolescent cancers are rising.  Many cancers develop slowly, over a long period of time, sometimes decades, so what your children are exposed to and consume now may increase their risk of cancer later in life.  Children are little people.  This means that exposure to environmental toxins and pesticides have a greater affect on them then on adults.  It is true that many toxins (e.g.  BPA and pesticides on foods) leave the body after a few days.  However, if your child has a poor diet or is exposed to toxins on a daily basis, then the exposure could become problematic. 

What can you do? I share with you the same advice I offer for adults.  A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains is best.  Foods such as white flour, white bread, and white pasta are treated by the body as simple sugar and should be considered an occasional treat.  Sugar adversely affects blood sugar, compromises the immune system and increases inflammation.   Processed foods often contain excessive amounts of sodium and nitrates, not to mention artificial preservatives, dyes and GMO”S (genetically modified foods).  Limit fried foods. Consider organic foods whenever possible, but especially for beef, dairy, fruits and vegetables, as many of these produced or grown conventionally are high in pesticides and hormones. A good rule is that if you cannot spell it, pronounce it or if your great-grandmother didn’t serve it, it shouldn’t be eaten.

But, we are not just what we eat.  We are also what we breathe, drink, and absorb through our skin.  So the topic of environmental toxins is always part of my cancer prevention lifestyle advice.  We owe it to our children to do what we can to minimize their exposure to environmental toxins.

Home is the place where we feel safest, but in most homes, toxins are everywhere.  We spray them, wash and scrub with them, bathe with them, brush them on our teeth, and track them in from our lawns and streets.  This isn’t the inevitable state of our homes and lives, but the outcome of our choices.  Prevention is a state-of-mind - as well as the best assurance that you are reducing unnecessary risk, and in the process, helping to preserve the planet and the future.  There are a few things you can do to curtail, if not eliminate your exposure.

Pesticides are ubiquitous in our world - from our food, to our lawns, to the school playgrounds and parks.  Avoid pesticides to the best of your ability as women with high pesticide levels in their breast tissue have greater incidents of cancer.  If you use fertilizers on your lawn, wait until after a heavy rain before you walk on the grass, and know that common weed killers are highly toxic to you as well.  Please - if you use fertilizers and weed killers, do not let your children walk barefoot on your lawn and don’t walk through your home wearing the shoes with which you walked through your toxic lawn.

Air pollution is not limited to factory districts.  Indoor air pollution is pervasive.  Two of the most common indoor air pollutants that can cause cancer are formaldehyde and benzene, found in such things as pressed wood, particle board, air fresheners (should be called indoor air polluters), paint strippers, and wood stains all contain formaldehyde and/or benzene. In addition to limiting these items in your home, house plants in the home can help to remove indoor pollutants.  Consider a few easy-to-care-for Boston Ferns and Spider Plants.

Household Cleaning Products  Use toxin free, natural cleaning products whenever possible.  Children and unborn babies are particularly at risk.  (Ref: http://living.amuchbetterway.com/harmful-effects of-household-cleaners/)

Plastic Never heat food in anything plastic, including plastic wrap.  I suggest avoiding plastic altogether, even for food storage.  Glass is a better choice.  Remember the glass storage containers your mother used?  They were replaced by plastic for a convenience that comes with serious costs.  Our convenient lifestyles are poisoning us.  Plastic bottles leach toxic chemicals into water and food, especially at high temperatures.  Never put plastic in the dishwasher or wash at high temperatures.  Plastics marked with a 3, 6, or 7 should never be used.  Those labeled with 2, 4, and 5 are less dangerous, but limit their use.  Never reuse number 1 plastic water bottles.


Limit radiation exposure Avoid CT scans as they have been linked to the progression of cancer and are often performed needlessly.  This is especially a concern for children. Hospital ER’s often perform them routinely, perhaps for liability reasons, but question the necessity and refuse the test if not absolutely necessary. Do not allow your children to pass through the new full-body screeners at airports.  While there are claims that the radiation is not a concern for adults (which I challenge), the risk escalates for children.


Personal Care Products  Ever take your daughter, granddaughter or niece for a manicure?  Nail salon formulas contain a bevy of dangerous toxins, both what is painted on as well as breathed in (think formaldehyde, nail polish remover).  One manicure is not a problem.  However, weekly manicures add up.  There are many less toxic substitutes on the market that work just as well, so consider bringing your own products (and ask the salon to open the doors and windows if the air smells toxic). Cosmetics are another cause for concern.  Help your child avoid cosmetics that contain formaldehyde, parabens, and phthalates (endocrine disrupting preservatives).  The average adult is exposed to over 100 unique chemicals in personal products every day; just imagine the effect they have on growing children.  Vaseline and Aquaphor are petroleum based and mineral oil (liquid petroleum) is a by-product of petroleum, which is known to increase the risk of cancer.  Significant amounts of cosmetic ingredients, including carcinogenic substances, penetrate the skin and end up in the blood stream.  These chemicals slowly poison our children through repeated use.


Avoid electromagnetic fields (EMF’s) whenever possible.  EMF’s are electrical fields that radiate from all electronics - power lines, modems, and appliances, and have been linked to cancer.  If your child has a bedside clock, move it so that it is at least 5 or 6 ft from the bed.  Limit computer time.  For years, I suspected that the cramped, computer-laden trading floor where I worked was a health hazard.  A few of us sat behind old monitors and next to plenty more.  Two of us developed cancer, one died.  The research out there is confusing to the non-scientists among us, but few believe that constant exposure to EMF’s is safe.  In fact, at a recent conference I attended, EMF’s were addressed several times - the cancer connection was quite clear.  Cell phones are of particular concern as they are held to the brain for long periods of time and are often clipped to the body.  There are many devices on the market that can reduce your exposure.  If there’s a $30 device that can help prevent cancer, I’m here to tell you it’s worth it.
While I know that changing the toxic environment in your home will likely go un-noticed by your children, I do imagine that a change in diet may not be received well.  If it is any extra incentive, I truly believe that children who eat better, behave better, that is certainly motivating for all of us!


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Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Inc. and a breast cancer survivor.  She helps women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and she educates about how to prevent recurrence and new cancers.  She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life.
For More Information:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tired, Fatigued? You may be Low on Potassium


Potassium is a mineral element needed by all plants and animals to live and thrive.  It is essential for the normal function of all tissues and cells in the body.  The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academies of Sciences has set Adequate Intake of potassium at 4.7 grams per day for most adults. Potassium is contained in all foods, particularly in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  Animal sources, such as fish and meat, also contain potassium, but the plant-based material is easier to absorb, and too much protein isn’t part of any healthy diet.  In fact, a carnivorous diet will be detrimental to your health, causing a rise in acid levels and depleting potassium levels. You will know that you are deficient in potassium if you find yourself experiencing an overall weakness and seem to be constantly fatigued. You're also likely to have trouble concentrating on your daily tasks, and may have difficulty with muscular coordination. Potassium deficiency can lead to high blood pressure problems, hypertension, strokes, and heart irregularities, and maybe even cancer. So, if you are lacking energy or suspect something of the sort, please see your doctor.

Cancer?

Some alternative medical practitioners maintain that low levels of potassium in the body may be linked to cancer.  The theory is that a diet high in sodium and low in potassium promotes tumor growth by changing the normal pH and water balance in human cells.  Further, in the 1930s, Max Gerson began developing a controversial dietary treatment for cancer known as the Gerson Diet Therapy.  The cornerstone of his diet was the use of potassium supplements and low sodium intake. He claimed the diet could restore proper balance of salt and water within human cells and help stop tumor growth. While this may be a valid theory, I don’t recommend potassium supplements unless directed by your doctor.   An excess of potassium is equally likely to spell trouble, so unless your doctor believes supplements are necessary, you would be better off just reaching for another cantaloupe slice, another banana, a handful more of strawberries, and adding a pinch of turmeric to many of your cooked meals.
Some studies have found that in a number of countries where there are high-potassium diets, cancer rates are lower. In areas where there are low-potassium diets, these studies showed the cancer rates are higher. These types of studies, however, cannot prove a direct connection, because there are other factors involved. The main sources of potassium in foods are fruits and vegetables. This may mean that people with a diet high in potassium are at lower risk for cancer because of other compounds in these foods. Since fruits and vegetables also contain vitamins, phytochemicals, and other antioxidants, it may be that compounds besides potassium account for their helpful effects. In cases such as this, I don’t require data-based evidence; sometimes you just have to go with common sense.  A diet high in fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains is a common sense diet for all.

Elyn Jacobs

Resources for information and food sources of Potassium:


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tips for an Anit-Cancer Lifestyle


The folowing is a Guest Blog I wrote and Posted on http://www.4women.com/, a company that designs headscarves for women with medically induced hair loss. 
Enjoy, Elyn
I talk a lot about cancer prevention.  The other day, I was asked for a few simple suggestions for avoiding cancer.  My answer is that diet and lifestyle choices can significantly affect your risk of cancer.  The cellular level is where cancer begins and where nutrition exerts its biggest influence.  A diet rich in fruits and vegetables will support your natural killer cells in their effort to defeat cancer cells, help you maintain a healthy weight, and it will help reduce inflammation and excess estrogen, both of which support cancer growth.  No one food is a magic bullet as each plays its own role in the prevention of cancer.  Cancer cells mutate on a daily basis, so make a healthy diet a daily habit.  Oh, and I have bad news for you.  The anti-cancer benefits of dark chocolate only last for 22 hours…..so you need to eat some every day!
We are not just what we eat.  We are also what we breathe and absorb through our skin.  So the topic of environmental toxins is always part of my cancer prevention lifestyle advice.  Cancer rates are not falling, and alarmingly, pediatric cancers are rising.  There is much concern in South Florida that toxic materials dumped into the water are increasing the incidence of pediatric brain tumors.  This weekend, I met the father of a 9-year-old boy who just finished treatment for pancreatic cancer.  So what does this mean?  Diet and exercise are not likely to blame.  We owe it to ourselves to do what we can to minimize our exposure to environmental toxins.
Home is the place where we feel safest, but in most homes, toxins are everywhere.  We spray them, wash and scrub with them, bathe with them, paint them on our nails, brush them on our teeth, and track them in from our lawns and streets.  This isn’t the inevitable state of our homes and lives, but the outcome of our choices.  Prevention is a state-of-mind - as well as the best assurance that you are reducing unnecessary risk, and in the process, helping to preserve the planet and the future.  There are a few things you can do to curtail, if not eliminate your exposure.
NEVER heat food in anything plastic, including plastic wrap.  I suggest avoiding plastic altogether, even for food storage.  Glass is a better choice.  Remember the glass storage containers your mother used?  They were replaced by plastic for a convenience that comes with serious costs.  Our convenient lifestyles are poisoning us.  Plastic bottles leach toxic chemicals into water and food, especially at high temperatures.  Never put plastic in the dishwasher or wash at high temperatures.  Plastics marked with a 3, 6, or 7 should never be used.  Those labeled with 2, 4, and 5 are less dangerous, but limit their use.  Never reuse number 1 plastic water bottles.
Pesticides are ubiquitous in our world - from our food, to our lawns, to the school playgrounds and parks.  Avoid pesticides to the best of your ability as women with high pesticide levels in their breast tissue have greater incidents of cancer.  If you use fertilizers on your lawn, wait until after a heavy rain before you walk on the grass, and know that common weed killers are highly toxic to you as well.  Please - if you use fertilizers and weed killers, do not let your children walk barefoot on your lawn and don’t walk through your home wearing the shoes with which you walked through your toxic lawn.
Avoid cosmetics that contain formaldehyde, parabens, and phthalates (endocrine disrupting preservatives).  The average adult is exposed to over 100 unique chemicals in personal products every day.  Mineral oil (liquid petroleum) is a by-product of petroleum and is known to increase the risk of cancer.  Significant amounts of cosmetic ingredients, including carcinogenic substances, penetrate the skin and end up in the blood stream.  These chemicals slowly poison us through repeated use.
Air pollution is not limited to factory districts.  Indoor air pollution is pervasive.  Two of the most common indoor air pollutants that can cause cancer are formaldehyde and benzene, found in such things as pressed wood, particle board, air fresheners (should be called indoor air polluters), paint strippers, and wood stains all contain formaldehyde and/or benzene. In addition to limiting these items in your home, house plants in the home can help to remove indoor pollutants.  Consider a few easy-to-care-for Boston Ferns and Spider Plants.
Beware of dry cleaning.  Better yet, avoid it altogether.  If you’ve convinced yourself you must dry clean, be sure to air out your clothing for a few days before wearing.  Frequent use of common chemical cleaners may increase your risk of breast cancer by as much as 50 percent.  Commercial cleaners contain endocrine disrupting chemicals that can increase estrogen levels.  Use toxin-free, natural cleaning products whenever possible.
Limit radiation exposure.  Avoid CT scans as they have been linked to the progression of cancer and are often performed needlessly.  Hospital ER’s often perform them routinely, perhaps for liability reasons, but question the necessity and refuse the test if not absolutely necessary.
Avoid electromagnetic fields (EMF’s) whenever possible.  EMF’s are electrical fields that radiate from all electronics - power lines, modems, and appliances, and have been linked to cancer.  If you have a bedside clock, move it so that it is at least 5 or 6 ft from your bed.  Do the same with phones, answering machines, and any other electronics in your bedroom.  Limit computer time.  For years, I suspected that the cramped, computer-laden trading floor where I worked was a health hazard.  A few of us sat behind old monitors and next to plenty more.  Two of us developed cancer, one died.  The research out there is confusing to the non-scientists among us, but few believe that constant exposure to EMF’s is safe.  In fact, I attended a conference last week, and EMF’s were addressed several times - the cancer connection was quite clear.  Cell phones are of particular concern as they are held to the brain for long periods of time and are often clipped to the body.  There are many devices on the market that can reduce your exposure.  If there’s a $30 device that can help prevent cancer, I’m here to tell you it’s worth it.
Making lifestyle changes seems difficult and may require you to change your conceptual framework first.  Having made many changes in my own effort to keep cancer in my past, I can tell you that an anti-cancer lifestyle does not require you to become a hypochondriac or a recluse.  It only requires you to THINK about what you put in, on, or near your body.  So, enjoy life, laugh much, think critically, and eat your vegetables.
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Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Inc. and a breast cancer survivor.  She helps women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and she educates about how to prevent recurrence and new cancers.  She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life.
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Friday, April 1, 2011

Is Shopping Dangerous to Your Health?

The recent press regarding BPA exposure is much needed and long overdue.  However, did you know that people are regularly exposed to BPA in the coating of a powdery film on cash register, bank and gas station receipts?  This powder rubs off onto your fingers and is absorbed by the body.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that in some cases, the amount of BPA on receipts can be as much as 1000 times the amount found in the lining of a can of food.
What can you do? If you do handle receipts, wear gloves or wash your hands immediately with a cleanser that does not contain alcohol (alcohol improves absorption).  However, washing is not always a convenient option as vendors do not put sinks by registers, and anything you touch before you can clean it off will be contaminated.  The best remedy is for all retailers, banks, etc. to be required to use BPA-free thermal paper for their receipts.  Many retailers are already doing this and some department stores will even email you a receipt if you request that option.  Hopefully the government will catch on and make this mandatory, but in the meantime, please refuse to accept receipts; you really don’t need most of them anyway.

Elyn Jacobs
elyn@elynjacobs.com