Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Cancer risk factors

Was just contemplating life, the universe and everything after hearing that a dear friend of mine has developed a brain tumour and thought I'd drag out my books to see what information I can pass on to his relatives as a diagnosis like that is bound to be scary. The two books I consider bibles on the subject are 'Cancer is not a disease it's a survival mechanism' by Andreas Moritz which outlines in plain language what cancer is and what it isn't and ways to heal your mind, body and spirit. The other is 'Anti-cancer' by David Servan-Shreiber which I think I may have mentioned before in another post. This latter book looks at the nutritional treatment of cancer and has a handy pocket-sized shopping guide so you only buy foods which will help your body (and specifically your immune system) overcome the cancer. Both are valuable tools in the quest to understand the message that cancer is.

Anyhow, was then reading some notes I made last year at the CAMexpo event at Earl's Court (CAM = Complementary and Alternative Medicine). The speaker was Dr. Marilyn Glenville and she was speaking about Breast Cancer risk and how to reduce it. Some of the things she highlighted were surprising. For instance Mammograms are dangerous; for every 1 life prolonged 10 women have unnecessary treatment (they are notoriously inaccurate) PLUS the radiation of the breast that this involves actually increases your risk by 50%. How about Tamoxifen which is given to women as a chemotherapy drug for hormone-dependent breast cancer? Well studies have shown that it increases the risk of cancer in the other breast by 400% i.e a 4x risk increase!! Not surprising when you consider that you are suppressing the immune system precisely when it needs to be stimulated. This is the great difference between conventional and CAM approaches. (Bizarrely, nutrition still falls within CAM not conventional medicine even though you would think food is the most conventional approach possible).

In fact if you asked an oncologist what you could eat to help you overcome cancer most if not all would deny there was any point in changing your diet. Some even recommend 'eat what you like, it won't make any difference' and suggest cream cakes and biscuits etc to 'fatten you up'. Cachexia (weight loss) is often a factor in people with cancer as cancer cells use up a lot of energy while they are growing in an uncontrolled fashion. Their main fuel; sugar. More specifically; glucose. So telling someone to go away and eat cream cakes as happened to a work colleague of mine after having stomach cancer is probably the worst thing you could possibly do. Instead natural foods like onions, ginger, turmeric, green veg, green tea, garlic, wholegrain foods, legumes, fermented soya products (tofu, tempeh, etc) are much better.

And where do you hear about the toxic products that have been linked to breast cancer risk? Xenoestrogens present in things like artifical air fresheners, cosmetics, perfumes and fabric conditioners - especially Bisphenol A present in plastic bottles - check labels and avoid , avoid. Unfortunately these are precisely the products that are targeted at women by the advertising industry! Also, pesticides particularly organochlorines are very linked to cancer risk - wash your veg if it's not organic.

Anyway, I am just amazed this isn't more widely known or a feature of Breast Cancer awareness fun-runs, etc. Whilst I know these are well-meaning events few women realise where their sponsorship money ends up and even fewer know the simple things they can do to reduce their risk; reduce the amount of fat and increase the quality (more omega-3 e.g. flax oil), eat less diary & red meat, drink more water, exercise more (especially in the open air to increase Vitamin D levels) and deal with your emotional issues. Breast cancer in particular seems to be linked to certain personality types - the martyr who puts everyone else before herself. Look after your own emotional needs and speak up. Don't be a doormat - it will make you ill.

So, anyhow that was what I have been musing on. Looking forward to this years CAMexpo - don't want to do their marketing for them but really it is a wonderful event that is targeted at therapist/practitioners but anyone with an interest in their health should go. The quality of the speakers is very high and the cost (£7) is very low. OK well that's all for now, back to study.

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