Twelve Changes That Will Cut Your Cancer Risk in Half
April 13, 2005
By Dr. Mercola
For more than 40 years the war on cancer has been waged with abysmal results. It's no secret that we are not winning the war on cancer, as it remains a leading killer in the United States and much of the developed world.
Cancer Used to be a Rare Disease...
Based on studies of human remains ranging from 5300 B.C. to the mid-19th century, we know that cancer used to be quite rare.
This is not the case anymore... in 2012, more than 1.6 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed, and more than 1,500 people will die from it every day. Cancer now accounts for nearly one out of every four deaths in the United States.1
What might surprise you is that even the American Cancer Society states that about one-third of cancer deaths could be prevented by making lifestyle changes, as they’re related to excess weight, physical inactivity and poor nutrition (and this does not even account for cancer related to smoking). In fact, the American Cancer Society said that Americans could realistically cut their cancer death rate in half by doing nothing more than making some simple lifestyle changes.
- Eat healthier foods, such as those described in my nutrition plan
- Incorporate more exercise in your daily routine
- Stop smoking today
- Schedule periodic cancer screenings
It is reassuring that even conservative researchers now suggest a more than 50 percent reduction with simple lifestyle changes, but why stop there?
I believe you can VIRTUALLY ELIMINATE your cancer risk if you follow risk reduction strategies that have not been formally "proven" yet by conservative researchers.
My 15 Top Tips for Cancer Prevention
I believe the vast majority of all cancers could be prevented by strictly applying the healthy lifestyle recommendations below.
- Avoid sugar, especially fructose. All forms of sugar are detrimental to health in general and promote cancer. Fructose, however, is clearly one of the most harmful and should be avoided as much as possible.
- Optimize your vitamin D. Vitamin D influences virtually every cell in your body and is one of nature's most potent cancer fighters. Vitamin D is actually able to enter cancer cells and trigger apoptosis (cell death). If you have cancer, your vitamin D level should be between 70 and 100 ng/ml. Vitamin D works synergistically with every cancer treatment I'm aware of, with no adverse effects. I suggest you try watching my one-hour free lecture on vitamin D to learn more.
- Engage in regular exercise. There have been loads of recent studies that show a very powerful effect of exercise in dramatically lowering your risk of cancer. It most likely does this through optimizing insulin and leptin signaling.
- Avoid unfermented soy products. Unfermented soy is high in plant estrogens, or phytoestrogens, also known as isoflavones. In some studies, soy appears to work in concert with human estrogen to increase breast cell proliferation, which increases the chances for mutations and cancerous cells.
- Improve your insulin receptor sensitivity. The best way to do this is by avoiding sugar and most all grains even organic ones as if you are one of the two thirds of the people that are overweight they could likely be worsening your insulin and leptin signaling.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. This will come naturally when you begin eating the right foods and exercising. It's important to lose excess body fat because fat produces estrogen.
- Drink a quart of organic green vegetable juice daily. Please review my juicing instructions for more detailed information.
- Get plenty of high quality animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. Omega-3 deficiency is a common underlying factor for cancer, and since most cancers have an inflammatory component, with up-regulated Cox-2 enzyme activity, omega-3 fats – particularly EPA – will directly interfere with the inflammatory process.
- Curcumin. This is the active ingredient in turmeric and in high concentrations it can be a very useful adjunct in the treatment of cancer. For example, it has demonstrated major therapeutic potential in preventing breast cancer metastasis.2 In fact, the biomedical literature now confirms that it has potential in preventing and/or combating well over 100 different types of cancer.3 It's important to know that curcumin is generally not absorbed that well, so I've provided several absorption tips here.
- Avoid drinking alcohol, or at least limit your alcoholic drinks to one per day for women, two for men.
- Avoid electromagnetic fields as much as possible. Even electric blankets can increase your cancer risk. Also be very cautious with your cell phone usage.
- Avoid synthetic hormone replacement therapy, especially if you have risk factors for breast cancer. Breast cancer is an estrogen-related cancer, and according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute,4 breast cancer rates for women dropped in tandem with decreased use of hormone replacement therapy. (There are similar risks for younger women who use oral contraceptives. Birth control pills, which are also comprised of synthetic hormones, have been linked to cervical and breast cancers.)
If you are experiencing excessive menopausal symptoms, you may want to consider bioidentical hormone replacement therapy instead, which uses hormones that are molecularly identical to the ones your body produces and do not wreak havoc on your system. This is a much safer alternative.
- Avoid BPA, phthalates and other xenoestrogens. These are estrogen-like compounds that have been linked to increased breast cancer risk, found widely in plastics, personal care products and other household goods.
- Watch out for excessive iron levels. This is actually very common once women stop menstruating, and also in some men. The extra iron actually works as a powerful oxidant, increasing free radicals and raising your risk of cancer. Fortunately, checking your iron levels is easy and can be done with a simple blood test called a serum ferritin test. I believe this is one of the most important tests that everyone should have done on a regular basis as part of a preventive, proactive health screen. Ferritin is the iron transport protein and should not be above 80. If it is elevated you can simply donate your blood to reduce it.
- Make sure you're not iodine deficient, as there's compelling evidence linking iodine deficiency with certain forms of cancer. Dr. David Brownstein,5 author of the book Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It, is a proponent of iodine for breast cancer. It actually has potent anticancer properties and has been shown to cause cell death in breast and thyroid cancer cells.
For more information, I recommend reading Dr. Brownstein's book. I have been researching iodine for some time ever since I interviewed Dr. Brownstein as I do believe that the bulk of what he states is spot on. However, I am not at all convinced that his dosage recommendations are correct. I believe they are too high.