Tag Archives: Cancer Prevention Tips

Let the Season Joys Boost Your Immune System, Not Stress Ruin Your Happiness

Holiday Season is approaching! Are you excited? Or stressed out? The primary cancer risk factors during holidays are diet and stress. We covered the diet factor in our Newsletter December issue, and focus on coping stress here.

Holiday realities

The holidays are both a wonderful and stressful time of the year. Besides the usual work loads and family commitments, we have new functions, as we rush around trying to meet looming deadlines. Parties and social events, holiday shopping, decorating, trips, holiday meals, going to the new movie releases, entertaining guests, … see how much we try to cram into the festive season! It gives me a headache just naming all the things.

The key danger of stress

Now imagine doing all that. It’s certainly a recipe for stress. Holiday stress normally falls into categories of financial, physical, psychological/emotional drains. Stress has a negative effect on your health. This is not just a theory. Many studies have found key mechanistic evidence at the cellular level. Chronic stress and/or depression can increase the body production of cytokines, that is, immune-modulating substances. One of them is called interleukin-6 (IL-6). High serum levels of IL-6 have been linked to risks for several adverse conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, mental health complications, and some cancers.

The relationship between stress and cancer is complex. Many factors may come into play. However, research has demonstrated that stress factors (e.g., the death of a spouse, divorce, social isolation, and medical school examinations) alter some white blood cell functions and promote immune dysfunction. Taken together, stress reduction is of importance for many health reasons.

Win control over stress with top 8 effective tips:

Since stress can translate into negative changes in the body, this year I challenge you to have the least holiday stress ever, and let the joyful spirit of the season boost your immune system! I’m here to help you achieve that.

1. The keywords are Prioritize, Be realistic, and Simplify (PBS). So, plan ahead based on PBS.

2.      Take it easy. Make the holidays enjoyable rather than perfect. If a card cannot get to its destiny on time, give the person a surprise call on that holiday morning! If you don’t feel like cooking or baking, buy some packaged prepared meals as an alternative, or go without one or two “traditions”. Instead of spending hours in the malls or sitting in the traffic, shop online for gifts to save time and get good deals.

3.      Tap the resources within your family, from neighbors and friends. Do what you enjoy, and make it fun for everyone. If you love decorating trees and hate shopping or dishwashing, trade chores within the family, so everyone picks up their favorite task.

4.      Create a budget within your means to avoid “New Year Depression” on debt. Folk wisdom tells us to shop ahead of time for bargains. However, we all can be creative and spend less, believe it or not. If your budget doesn’t allow you to buy expensive gifts, buy a small one. Everyone appreciates a gift regardless of its size. If it’s too costly to attend a fancy party, organize a new, fun activity to celebrate at home or go to a movie.

5.      Listen to your body and take care of it. If you are tired, acknowledge it; if you need a treat or massage, get it; and if exercises or physical activities make you feel good, go for it.  Also, be sure to get enough sleep.

6.      Practice stress-relieving techniques, particularly those that work for you. Breathe deeply, meditate freely, visualize a peaceful scene, or listen to soothing music. Enjoy some quiet time or “down” time for yourself, especially when you feel over-stressed or under uncomfortable conditions. Caution! Just because the letters in desserts can be used to spell stressed, it doesn’t mean you need to relieve stress with desserts. Avoid over-eating, particularly high sugar and/or high calorie foods.

7.      Laugh, laugh, and laugh! Laughter is an effective medicine.

And perhaps the most important tip of all is:

 

8. The holiday season is a time of Family, Friends and Fun! Connecting with others for laughter and love is the best stress-reliever and most effective immune-booster. And remember, for some, this is a time of loneliness and depression. Invite them to your home; show kindness to them. If you are alone during the holidays, reaching out to help others can benefit your own physical and psychological well-being.

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Photo Credits: By dtweney; By Just a Temporary Measure

 

 

Breast Cancer Prevention Is for Everyone

In October, we increase nationwide awareness for breast cancer. Remember: both men and women can get breast cancer. The most important factor is catching it early, because at an early stage, the cancer is most treatable, and can be closely monitored if you’re at increased risk.

How to catch it early:

1.   Recognize symptoms/signs.

2.   Consult your physicians especially if you have a family history of breast cancer.

3.   Get mammograms, and if necessary, MRI.

What are common symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore?

1.   A lump in the breast, sometimes an area of lumpiness, which can be found through regular self-examination.

2.   The lump is not always painful or visible, but can be felt.

3.   Any change in the skin around the nipple.

4.   Unexpected inversion of the nipple.

5.   Breast pain or discomfort.

6.   Weight loss.

7.   Signs that indicate the cancer could be spreading, such as a lump in the underarm area or bone pain, or other symptoms depending on the organ/tissue affected.

Cancer is such a scary, horrible and challenging disease. Although early detection is the key, “prevention is better than cure.” Always. There are things you can control.

How to prevent breast cancer:

1.   Keep informed and educated, do so beyond health promotion events or cancer awareness campaigns.

2.   Avoid your exposure to radiation, toxic chemicals and carcinogens (cancer-causing agents). Particularly, start limiting the use of chemical cleaner wherever you can.

3.   Quit alcohol consumption and smoking. When combined with genetic or inherit factors, drinks and cigarettes enhance several cancers’ risks.

4.   Live a healthy lifestyle, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise, and sleep well.

5.   Maintain a healthy weight, because the link between body fat and cancer risk has been proven.

In short, these are essential things everybody can do in Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a year around.

25 Unbeatable Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System

Your immune system is your body’s natural defense against diseases. Its functions range from fighting off harmful bacteria and viruses to destroying potentially cancerous cells. However, our immune systems are under attack in our daily lives from a variety of sources such as free radicals in the body, bacteria, UV radiation, environmental pollutants, and stress. It’s critical not only to ensure your immune system is always healthy but to maximize its natural defense function. Luckily, there are actions we can take to achieve this goal. This post shows you how.

1.  Eat a healthy diet. Mindfully include immune-boosting foods to everyday meals.
2.  Exercise and be physically active, from all-body workouts, running, walking, and dancing to gardening. The key is to keep moving.
3.  Cultivate a new hobby that’s physically demanding, makes your heart beat faster, and your blood circulate better. As a result, you’ll become more fit.
4.  Practice quietness. A quiet mind may promote inner peace and relaxation.
5.  Take a hot bath or shower. Soaking in a warm bath is another way of relaxation.
6.  Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation can impair immune system function.
7.  Reduce stress. Everybody gets stress from different areas of life. There can be a long list of stress management tips, but not all work for everyone. Have fun discovering and developing whatever works for you.
8.  Be kind. According to a good friend of mine who is an experienced oncologist, my dad’s prolonged life was certainly attributed to his extraordinary kindness, which made this doctor want to learn more about my dad’s kindness.
9.  Appreciate the “little things” in life and always maintain a positive and grateful attitude. Research found that individuals who have a negative frame of mind have difficulty properly recruiting their immune response and thereby pose a higher risk for illness compared with those with a positive attitude.
10.  Get outdoors. Whether you walk, ski, bike or hike, the combination of enjoying the beauty of nature and a dose of exercise boosts the immune system.
11.  Maintain a clutter-free home and workplace, because clutter is a stress-trigger. Clear those mental clutters, too.
12.  Laugh and smile often. Laughter boosts your immune system at no cost. The more folks laugh, the less depression they experience. If you have any difficulty laughing, seek “Laughter Yoga”, by checking out a local group that practices it.
13.  Have a sense of humor. Yes, some people have more of a funny bone than others. Yet, many people just don’t foster their funny side, a dimension that almost everyone possesses in some ways.
14.  Practice deep breathing and stay calm. Count 1,2, 3… before any anger takes over.
15.  Nurture your emotional well-being and be happy. If you don’t promote emotional health, your physical body will pay the price. Emotions are intimately involved in the initiation and progression of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and HIV.
16.  Take time off, and take breaks during the day.
17.  Eat a healthy breakfast, not just any breakfast. Skipping breakfast is even worse.
18.  Take whatever it takes to maintain a healthy weight. Remember, it could be a fun marathon, rather than an overnight remedy.
19.  Stop eating sugar. Sugar suppresses the immune system; even a teaspoon of sugar can reduce the activity of your body’s natural killer cells for hours. There are many wonderful foods that help boost your immune function, explore them and replace sugar.
20.  Eat more soups, especially chicken soup.
21.  Drink a lot of water. If possible, filter your drinking/cooking water.
22.  Drink more tea, especially green tea.
23.  Get plenty of fresh air; in particular, keep your indoor air clean and fresh.
24.  Deal with any health concern even a pain or an unusual spot as soon as possible. Fix any small problem for the optimal function of the big machine – your body.
25.  Develop good relationships around you. A strong family bond, a happy marriage, and good friendships can help you during good and tough times.

Bonus: Take multivitamin and mineral supplements to ensure an adequate supply of the essential nutrients that are needed by your body yet lacking from your diet. However, make sure you take a quality-controlled supplement rather than “just another supplement” or “cheap supplement” (see the tips on our website).

Our immune system is effective most of the time. Following the above tips will remarkably boost your immune system and promote your happiness.

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Photo credit: By thephotographymuse

A Cancer-protective Salad ─ How to Combine Beneficial Foods I’ve Discussed

Creative Cancer Prevention Salad_CPD2A Cancer-protective salad is a colorful salad on sight, composed of immune boosting foods and cancer-fighting antioxidants. Here I show you how to prepare it:

  1. Use green leafy veggies as basis: Spinach or Romaine lettuce or combination.
  2. Build on colors: Broccoli, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, or carrots. Fruits such as peach, orange or grapes are welcome mixers.
  3. Include protein: Chicken or fish (e.g. salmon). In addition, beans, eggs (hard-boiled then sliced or diced), nuts and seeds can be good choices for vegetarians.
  4. Mix with cancer-fighting ingredients: Avocado, olive oil, minced garlic, or even lemon. Red wine vinegar or freshly-ground pepper can also be used.
  5. Garnish with healthy herbs: Basil, chives, rosemary or your favorites, fresh or dried. They go with the above salad components easily. Don’t have herbs? Sprinkle a few pieces of green onions.
  6. Don’t forget raisins ─ a tasty trick! Alternatively, add grapes for natural sweetness, much healthier than synthetic sweeteners and sugar.

You might say, oh, I know this … I eat them… Surely, many people know it, but amazingly many more people load their salads with processed red meat, cheese, unhealthy fats/dressing, and much worse — salt. Knowledge without action is powerless.

Again, here are the key differences that make this salad cancer-protective and delicious.

  1. Cancer-fighting synergy from various foods
  2. Rich fiber diet ─ an aid to reduce risks of cancer and heart diseases
  3. Wise substitutions in ingredients
  4. Healthy cooking and preparation

Bonus ─ a lunch to dinner recipe: By adding whole wheat pasta into it, the colorful dish turns into your time-saving dinner with heart-healthy and cancer-protective benefits!

Photo credit: by http://www.freeimages.com/photo/salad-1317825 & CPD

Green Leafy Vegetables Help Reduce Cancer Risks

Research shows that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables has been associated with reduced risks for several cancers. Fruits and vegetables contain a wide variety of potential cancer-inhibitory nutrients and antioxidants. Today, let’s just focus on dark green leafy vegetables.

Dark green leafy vegetable family includes the following members commonly available on the market:
* Spinach
* Kale
* Collard Greens
* Mustard Greens
* Swiss chard
* Romaine Lettuce
* Bok Choy

Key cancer protective factor
Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in folate, a group of water-soluble B vitamins.

Key role in cancer prevention
Folate’s primary function is to maintain DNA integrity. Free radicals generated by sunlight, cigarette smoke, air pollution, infection, toxins, and metabolism constantly attack our DNA and cause much of the damage. Without DNA repair, damaged cells can develop into cancer. Folate keeps up DNA stability by regulating DNA biosynthesis, repair and methylation.

Let me explain a little bit more about DNA methylation. Plainly speaking, it involves the addition of a methyl group to DNA structure. DNA methylation patterns go wrong in cancer, often causing tumor-suppressor genes to switch off; which occurs in common cancers in the United States, such as colon, lung, prostate, and breast cancer.

Accumulating evidence indicates that inappropriate diet may contribute to one third of cancer deaths. Folate deficiency has been implicated in the development of several types of cancer, including cancer of the colorectum, breast, ovary, pancreas, brain, lung and cervix.

Key sources for safe intake
To safely and effectively increase folate intake, you should consume dark green leafy vegetables, and other naturally folate-rich foods like asparagus, strawberries, and legumes. Supplements are not preferred, as recent studies indicate that an excessive intake of synthetic folic acid (either high-dose supplements or fortified foods) may promote human cancer.

So, eat a lot of green leafy vegetables every day. They are loaded with cancer protective phytochemicals, antioxidants and nutrients. Also, you enjoy other health benefits beyond cancer prevention.

How do you incorporate dark green leafy vegetables into your daily diet?

Photo credit: By mahr; By jonsson; and By Sultry

Tomatoes and Tomato-rich Diet on Cancer Prevention

Tomatoes are loaded with a wide variety of nutrients and antioxidants, delivering a broad range of health benefits… What you can take away from this post is how to maximize its cancer prevention potential through an easy, tasty diet.

Lycopene found in tomatoes is a strong antioxidant, and has been suggested to function as a protective factor against prostate cancer. Also, there is controversy raised over “Lycopene or tomato extract reduces prostate cancer risk”. Thus, the impact of tomatoes on prostate cancer risk holds no established promise for now.

However, there is a large body of evidence — that a diverse diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of prostate cancer, as well as that of other cancers.

Countless combination of tomatoes with fruits and veggies can serve you a heart healthy and cancer prevention diet. Here I share a very simple one based on my own experience – fresh tomatoes and basil leaves from the homegrown garden.

The dishes you can make:
1. Tomato basil salad
2. Tomato basil pasta
3. Tomato basil soup
4. Tomato basil sauce
5. Tomato basil pasta salad (my favorites — whole wheat pasta, Farfalle pasta)
6. Add shrimp or chicken to tomato basil dishes.
7. Add other colorful veggies or healthy ingredients to tomato basil dishes or sandwiches.
You’ve got the idea….

To make it delicious and healthy, certainly mix the dish with such ingredients as olive oil, garlic, or lemon juice, but little or no salt.

Tip: Basil herb is better used fresh in cooked dishes, either as marinate or garnish, or toss — add at the last moment, as cooking dissolves its flavor.

Remember, one nutrient alone won’t help you combat any cancer. The key is to regularly consume a variety of nutrients and antioxidants from natural food sources, as the overall benefits of a fruit-vegetable-rich diet on cancer prevention are validated.

How often do you eat tomatoes? What’s your favorite recipe with tomato? We appreciate it if you share.

Photo credit: by topfer

What’s in a Cup of Tea? Catechins for Helping Immune Functions and Weight Management

Do you drink tea? What is your favorite tea? How often do you drink it? Let’s have a little, “Tea Talk”. After water, tea is the most popular drink in the world. In addition to its great variety of tastes, drinking tea has been associated with many health benefits including prevention of heart disease and cancer.

So, what is the key ingredient for tea’s benefits?
Catechins — a potent and effective form of polyphenol antioxidants. Green tea is chemically characterized by its abundance in catechins. According to research, a typical cup of brewed green tea contains, by dry weight, 30–40% catechins, while equal amount of Oolong tea contains roughly 16% and black tea 3–10% catechins.

What is the science behind tea’s cancer protective effect?
Cancer protective benefits of tea catechins have been attributed to the following areas:
1. Antioxidant properties, which positively impact on the ability of the body’s cells to handle oxidative stress.
2. Enhancement on immune functions through its nutrients’ absorption and anti-microbial effect. Tea catechins can inhibit pathogen growth and modulate immune cells and inflammation markers.
3. Promotion of weight management through its effects on metabolism and metabolic enzymes. While increasing your metabolism, tea catechins also intensify fat oxidation and themogenesis, helping burn body fat naturally.
4. Protection against digestive and respiratory infections.
5. Inhibition on cancer cell growth, which is related to the diminished tumor growth and metastases observed from scientific studies.

In Bushman’s literature review (1998) on green tea and human cancer, which examined a total of 31 human studies and four reviews, the majority of these studies indicate that tea consumption is associated with reduced risks for cancers of the colon, urinary bladder, stomach, esophagus, pancreas and lung. New findings also showed that high consumption of green tea was closely associated with decreased numbers of lymph node metastases among pre-menopausal Stage I and II breast cancer patients.

Any substitute of green tea?
Sure. Tegreen 97, produced by Pharmanex, provides a highly concentrated, proprietary extract of green tea catechins. Each Tegreen 97 capsule contains the catechins equivalent of seven cups of green tea without the caffeine. With other polyphenol antioxidants as its constituents, Tegreen 97 is one of the most potent antioxidant products on the market, providing your body with maximum protection for critical cell structures such as DNA. Interestingly, studies from Pharmanex also showed that Tegreen 97 can have a significant beneficial effect in managing serious health conditions such as weight gain and need for blood sugar control.

It is recommended that consumers select a tea extract that is decaffeinated and standardized for total polyphenol contents and/or catechin concentrations. When shopping the tea market, please be aware of all of this. Also, Pharmanex Tegreen 97 meets all the criteria.

Photo credit: by Kanko

The Immune Boosting Properties of Yogurt

Yogurt_213406_7960Go into any restaurant or watch any commercial for a kitchen cleaning product, and enemy number one will be bacteria. From fear of ingesting these microscopic critters, we want them as far from our food as humanly possible. But did you know all bacteria are not bad? In fact, strains found in yogurt can actually help you by boosting your immune system. On top of that, yogurt’s non-bacteria components can also assist the immune system. Here’s a look at both.

Bacteria components:

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are commonly used in yogurt production. In the finished product, these bacteria must be alive and in substantial amounts. Sounds scary? Not really when they strengthen your immune system.

LAB in yogurt are healthy bacteria, which keep the gastrointestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. In particular, they can increase body metabolism, promote digestive functioning, and facilitate bowl movements. Lactic acid bacteria can decrease pH in the colon lumen and change the intestinal micro-ecological environment. Increased amounts of LAB in the intestines can suppress the growth of pathogenic bacteria, thereby contributing to reduction in infection.

Yogurt’s bacterial components play an important role in the immunostimulatory effects of yogurt. Frequent consumption of yogurt can power up the body’s immune response, which then stimulates white blood cells such as lymphocytes and macrophage, resulting in the events like destroying cancerous growth and/or ingesting cancer cells.

Non-bacteria components:

Yogurt is a nutrient-rich food containing high-quality protein, vitamins (especially folic acid), and trace elements, all of which are necessary for maintaining optimal immune response. Although milk and yogurt have similar vitamin and mineral compositions, calcium is more bioavailable from yogurt than from milk. Calcium can strengthen the immune system too.

The association with cancer prevention:

It’s a complex subject. In general, yogurt’s beneficial bacteria, any compounds produced by the friendly bacteria found in active yogurt cultures, and other nutrients in yogurt may positively influence the immune system, making it harder for cancer cells to survive.

Just make sure to consume the yogurt high in protein but low in fat, sugar and calories.

Photo credit: by LotusHead

Top 3 Reasons To Think About “A Healthy Breakfast” Instead Of “A Breakfast”

Do you eat breakfast every day? What do you usually eat?

Fruit4Breakfast_3181820721_5185f6303fToday, I’d like to focus on the second question — what to eat for breakfast. Most people have breakfast, and there are many reasons why kick starting your day with a meal is crucial. However, a lot of folks overlook the difference between simply “eating breakfast” and “eating a healthy breakfast”. The latter is more important.

Whether you realize it or not, a healthy breakfast is your cancer-fighting investment. Eating breakfast itself doesn’t guarantee protection from cancer or heart disease. Yet eating a daily, healthy breakfast does provide you long-term health benefits, and aids you in building the body’s defense to prevent cancer. Here are the top three reasons why a healthy breakfast is a smart choice:

1. A significant link between eating a healthy breakfast and minimizing cancer risks is maintaining a healthy weight. Research shows that skipping breakfast can cause you to gain weight. Obesity contributes to common types of cancer. People who successfully maintain their body weight usually eat a healthy breakfast every day.

2. Some breakfast products may contain vitamins/nutrients in amounts going beyond the recommended daily allowance (RDA), or food by-products that virtually increase your risk for developing cancer and other health problems. For instance, bacon contains certain levels of known and possible carcinogens, cereals often contain too much folic acid, and there are drinks that contain far too much vitamin C. Remember the golden rule – “Excess of anything is bad.” Just as a drug at a higher dosage can have potentially adverse consequences, so can too much of any vitamin.

3. A sugar-rich breakfast is the worst way to start your day. With our modern lifestyle, it’s so easy to let too much sugar sneak into our breakfast…. Again, sugar doesn’t cause cancer directly. However, too much sugar intake (esp. refined sugar), hence high blood sugar level becomes problematic, which not only initiates diabetes and heart disease but also has been linked to increased risks for breast, colon and pancreatic cancer.

So, what do you eat for a healthy breakfast? You can follow these five keys, enjoying the foods that fit your own health needs and taste.

1. Breakfast should be primarily liquid or contain liquids, while solid food plays a secondary role. There should be 3-4 different types of food with a balance of protein, carbohydrates, fibers and healthy fats. Milk intake can provide a high nutritional value.
2. It is important to drink water in the morning, which helps replenish liquid lost during the night, eliminate waste, and promote blood circulation.
3. Middle-age people should control the amount of sugar and carbohydrate intake.
4. Old people may eat more easily digested yet nutrient-rich food such as soups or noodles.
5. Take caution by reading labels! Familiarize or inform yourself with the upper limits of essential vitamins/nutrients.

After all, what do you usually include for a healthy breakfast?

Photo credit: by Just a Temporary Measure

The Cancer Prevention Power of Olive Oil

697352_oliveoil w-treeDo you use olive oil to dress your salads? Or for light sautéing? It not only tastes great, but has many health benefits. While many folks know olive oil is healthy, not everyone knows why it’s good, particularly in terms of lowering cancer risks, and not everyone incorporates it into their cancer-fighting diet. Olive oil and unsaturated fats, which are typical ingredients in the Mediterranean diet, have been proven to reduce the risk of several cancers.

Let’s take a look at how powerful olive oil is.

The healthful components in olive oil:

1. Monounsaturated fats: Healthy fats help reduce cancer risks. They also lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and raise good cholesterol (HDL) levels, thereby preventing heart disease.

2. Polyphenols: Powerful antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals, and reduce oxidative stress and DNA damage, potentially helping to combat degenerative diseases including cancer.

3. DHPEA-EDA: In virgin olive oil, it may constitute up to half the total antioxidant contents in the oil. DHPEA-EDA can protect red blood cells from oxidative damage that these cells are particularly sensitive to.

The impact of olive oil on cancer prevention:
Extra virgin olive oil might possess anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, and anti-apoptotic effects. Experimental studies provide new evidence that olive oil has the potential protective effects against cancer of colorectal, breast, and upper digestive tract.

Summary:
Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats and is rich in polyphenols. Olive oil helps lower cancer risks. Other benefits include protection against heart attack, stroke, osteoporosis, cell aging, ulcers, and even gallstone formation.

Final note:
Virgin and extra-virgin olive oils may contain higher levels of polyphenols (powerful antioxidants) compared with processed or refined olive oils. Consuming Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a part of a healthy diet, but as with most foods, moderation is important. Good fat is still fat and all types of fat are high in calories.

How do you consume olive oil in your daily diet? We’d like to hear it!

Photo credit: by Seda Inal