I’m not a ‘politics’ guy but as a Canadian, I am saddened by the loss of Jack Layton. His obvious passion and ambition for our country will be greatly missed by all of us. On a more personal note, one of my best friend’s also lost his sister to cancer this weekend – she was a young woman in her thirties with two small children. It’s devastating for a family to lose someone so young.
That’s the scary thing about cancer – you never know who it will strike next and no one is ever totally immune. However, you can take certain actions to reduce your risk of getting this deadly disease. It takes courage to accept that the risk of cancer applies to everyone – even you. But by accepting that, also realize that your health is ultimately in your own hands and do the absolute best you can do to ensure its longevity and vitality. A healthy lifestyle can dramatically reduce your risk of cancer and you owe it to yourself to start making smart decisions.
It’s hard to write a post on a topic as broad as cancer and cover everything but I feel it’s important that people have some basic understanding of how they can lower the risk of cancer. In respect to that, I want to share some easy steps that everyone can implement to live a healthier lifestyle and that can help lower the risk of many cancers.
- Reduce your stress level! Your body responds to stress by releasing stress hormones such as epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol. These hormones are produced to help a person react to a situation with increased speed and strength. These stress hormones result in higher blood pressure, increased heart rate and blood sugar levels. Research done over the last few years indicates that stress seems to have a significant role to play in regards to many types of cancers. Chronic increased levels of stress hormones are simply harmful to your body. Studies suggest that chronic stress weakens a person’s immune system and in turn, can affect the incidence of virus associated cancers. Researchers have also found that the body’s neuroendocrine response (release of hormones into the blood in response to to stimulation of the nervous system) can directly alter critical processes in cells that help protect against the formation of cancer, such as DNA repair and the regulation of cell growth. There is a reason that cancer rates have so drastically risen in this increasingly stressful world. There are now a number of medical tests that can determine your stress hormone levels and I would encourage those with high stress loads to consider getting tested to see where your hormone levels are at. If you do have increased stress hormones, there are a number of supplements you can take to lower those as needed. Most importantly, you need to normalize your stress levels – whether it is through the aid of supplements, meditation, yoga, exercise, or simply learning to let some things go.
- Brush Longer and Floss Regularly! The latest research shows significant links between poor oral hygiene and increased cancer risks throughout the body, including breast cancer. One particular study showed a 75 percent increase in breast cancer in women with gum disease compared to those women who didn’t have gum disease. Other studies have found links between tooth loss or periodontitis and pancreatic cancer risk. Some research suggests that there are higher levels of carcinogenic compounds present in the mouths of people with periodontal disease, which increases the risk of cancer. In the case of pancreatic cancer, it is suggested that perhaps the carcinogenic compounds and bacteria react with digestive chemicals in the gut to create conditions that favour the development of cancer cells. Knowing what the latest research is telling us, it obviously becomes very important that you brush properly and floss regularly. Bacteria forms in the mouth, plaque builds up, and inflammation forms in the gums – all increasing the possibility of a variety of cancers. Women are at an even greater risk as the hormonal changes that occur during menstruation and menopause tend to increase their chances of gum sensitivity and inflammation. It is imperative that you brush for at least two minutes to really clean the mouth. We hear it all the time but it’s time to pay attention – you need to floss daily. A healthy diet is also critical in order to maintain good oral health. Ensure your diet is choke full of fresh veggies and fruits – preferably as much of it raw as you can possibly handle!
- Cut out that Sweet Tooth! All those unhealthy refined carbohydrates and simple sugars spike your insulin constantly. Unfortunately, these dangerous insulin spikes lead to cancer inducing inflammation. Furthermore, Dr. Warburg won the Nobel Prize for discovering that cancer cells require glucose (sugar) for growth. While it’s true that all cells require glucose, cancer cells consume as much as five times more glucose than normal, healthy cells. The fact is that they are unable to multiply rapidly without it. To feed the cancer, you need sugar. Therefore, does it not make sense that in order to limit the growth of cancer, you need to cut off its supply?! To quote Oprah, this is a total AHA moment! In fact, I strongly believe that one of the most important steps for anyone fighting cancer must be to stop eating sugar immediately! Another concern is that refined sugars simply aren’t nutrient dense – they contain absolutely none of the nutrients necessary for the proper absorption of the sugar ingested. Accordingly, the body needs to drain body stores (any that are present) in order to complete the job. Think about this for a minute – every time you’re eating those simple sugars, your body is draining its storage of nutrients. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that can’t be good for your body. Our ancestors ate predominantly vegetables, nuts, seed and fruits – this diet promotes a healthy blood glucose level. Unfortunately, today’s typical diet is high in refined sugars and promotes abnormally high blood sugar levels and unprecedented unhealthy effects in blood sugar metabolism. It is important that you cut out the sugar and what’s more, increase your intake of healthy fats. These healthy fats actually slow the rate at which carbohydrates are absorbed and help limit those insulin spikes.
Cancer is a leading cause of death in the western world and needs to be taken seriously. Taking simple steps to reduce its risk is a lot easier than dealing with the alternative. Think about that and the choice becomes clear.
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