Volume 2 Issue 5

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Page 12 | Abby's Magazine - Your risk of cancer rises and falls with various aspects of your lifestyle. Exercise, diet and exposure to envi- ronmental carcinogens play a key role. But diet may be paramount. "Poor diet is a risk factor for almost a third of cancers," says Elson Haas, MD, author of Stay- ing Healthy with Nutrition. "High meat, refined carbo- hydrate (sugar consumption), salt, dairy, and nitrosa- mines in preserved meats all have associations with different types of cancer." "We have an imbalance in what we eat, a lack of fruits and vegetables," says Samer Koutoubi, PhD, MD, assistant pro- fessor at Bastyr University. Bradley Willcox, MD, and co- author of The Okinawa Program (Potter/Random House) says, "About a third of the veg- etables Americans eat come from potatoes, in the form of French fries and potato chips, along with iceberg lettuce." A diet deficient in necessary nutrients, especially anti- oxidants to repair free radical damage (cellular damage caused by highly reactive, toxic molecules), may leave one more vulnerable to the DNA damage that leads to cancer. "We all get DNA hits over our lifetimes," says Dr. Willcox. "The more hits we get, the more we're at risk. Over a lifetime it's a statisti- cal game. How many cell-damaging free radicals do you generate through exposure to dietary fac- tors, radiation and normal metabolic processes, digestion, for example." But a diet high in fruits, vegetables, grains and le- gumes (like peanuts) is protective against many types of cancer. "The main thing is to aim for vari- ety," says Walter Willett, MD, professor at Harvard Medical School. Anti-Cancer Colors Flavonoids are plant pigments often responsible for plant colors. These antioxidants provide molecular pro- tection against cellular damage. Flavonoid-rich foods include onions, parsley, red wine and green tea. The polyphenols found in (green tea) are con- sidered to be antioxidants and that helps protect the cells from the free radicals that can cause damage. Blueberries, Dr. Wil- lett says, "are the biggest bang for the buck in terms of an- tioxidants." "Berries help the immune sys- tem, lowering blood cholesterol, getting rid of carcinogens in the body and pro- tecting the cells," says Dr. Koutoubi. The pigments known as carotenoids can also be converted by the body into vi- tamin A. "Vitamin A may prevent cancer cell formation by inhibiting the binding of carcinogens to the cell," says Dr. Haas. Legumes, grains, seeds, bell peppers, apricots and cantaloupe also contain these nutrients as do seaweed, algae and broccoli. Anti-Cancer Lifestyle

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