Cancer prevention, lifestyle changes, possible treatment

The American Cancer Society has developed a list of recommendations, mostly dietary, that can tremendously lessen the risk of getting cancer. They are as follows:

1. Avoid Obesity: One study conducted over a period of 12 years showed a marked increase among obese people in cancers of the uterus, gall bladder, kidney, stomach, colon, and breast.

2. Cut down on fat intake: Epidemiological and laboratory studies indicate that excessive fat intake increases the likelihood of developing cancers of the breast, colon, and prostate. The average Belizean diet presently consists of about 40% of calories in the form of fat. The National Academy of Sciences recommends a reduction to 30 percent or even less.

3. Eat a lot of high fiber food: High fiber foods like whole-grain cereal, fruits and vegetables play a vital role in preventing and treating cancer. Fiber absorbs water like a sponge. This helps fill the intestines and stimulates them to increased activity. This assists the colon in two ways. It shortens the exposure to irritating substances, and it dilutes the concentration of irritants because of fiber’s water-holding ability and insulating effects.

4. Include foods rich in vitamin A: These include dark green and deep yellow vegetables, and certain fruits that are rich in carotene. Examples of foods rich in carotene are carrots, tomatoes, spinach, apricots, peaches and cantaloupes.

5. Include food rich in vitamin C: Epidemiological studies indicate that persons whose diets are rich in ascorbic acid (vitamin C) are less likely to get cancer, particularly of the stomach and esophagus. Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C and are abundantly available in this blessed country of ours.

6. Include “cruciferous” vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Epidemiological studies have also demonstrated that consumption of these vegetables reduces risk of cancer, particularly cancers of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts.

7. Avoid salted, smoked and nitrite-cured foods: Increase intake of salted, smoked and nitrite-cured foods contributes to malignant tumors. Substantial scientific evidences reveal that smoked foods such as hams and sausages absorb carcinogenic tars similar to those in cigarettes.

8. Avoid overexposure to the sun:  Skin cancers are increasing worldwide, and have been related to sunlight.

Sunshine, in moderation, promotes health and strengthens the immune system. Excessive sun exposure, however, can produce two relatively harmless types of skin cancer – basal cell and squamous cell cancers.

These grow slowly, and are usually discovered and removed before they have a chance to spread. Melanoma is another story. This is the “black mole” cancer that spreads very quickly to other parts of the body. When it spreads, this cancer has a high fatality rate. If discovered early and completely removed, a near 100% cure can follow. Melanomas are believed to result from repeated sunburns.

9. Avoid smoke and smoking: As was mentioned previously, tobacco smoking is the number one culprit for lung cancer and is also responsible for one-third of all cancer deaths.

Research shows that there are over 4000 different chemicals identified in cigarette smoking and that a number of these chemicals have the ability to cause cancer all by themselves. Bar-b-que smoke, fire smoke and second-hand-smoking should also be avoided.

10. Avoid consumption of alcoholic beverages: Alcohol is another important risk factor for cancer. Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer of the liver, the esophagus and pancreas, and does so dramatically for those who smoke as well. Even moderate use of as little as three drinks a week may increase the risk, especially for women.

One research in Italy reveals that twelve percent of cancers are found to relate directly to alcohol use. And this figure does not include the many auto accident fatalities caused by drunk drivers each year. Another consideration is the havoc wreaked on individuals and families by alcohol use.