Things You Can Do To Reduce Your Cancer Risk: Part 1

In my previous blogs I described all the wonderful foods you can consume to support your anti-cancer diet. Here I will highlight some additional anti-cancer tips that should guide you whether you are a cancer survivor or looking for cancer-prevention and wellness strategies. 

A Shopper’s Guide to the Dirty Dozen

I mentioned the importance of eating clean food in one of my previous blogs – according to the Environmental Working Group guidelines, below is the ‘dirty dozen’ – a list of produce that tends to ‘soak up’ more potentially carcinogenic pesticides. So it’s important to note that when purchasing the items below, only buy organic. Studies have shown that organic produce provides significantly greater levels of vitamins and minerals and antioxidant phytochemicals (anthocyanins, flavonoids, and carotenoids). 

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

Here’s a list of produce that are cleaner to eat even if grown conventionally. Of course, buying organic and locally sourced is best in a perfect world. If you are on a budget, you can get away with buying non-organic produce on the “clean” 15 items listed below and save your dollars for the essential items listed above.

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onions
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet peas (frozen)
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Cauliflower
  10. Cantaloupe
  11. Broccoli
  12. Mushrooms
  13. Cabbage
  14. Honeydew melon
  15. Kiwi

Eating Less and Intermittent Fasting

Evidence shows that cutting calories can reduce cancer risk. Since over-eating leads to obesity thereby increasing the risk factor for the incidence of cancer and other diseases, lowering calorie intake is the cheapest and simplest way to prevent and manage cancer. In vitro studies have clearly established that both insulin and IGF-I (that are raised upon eating and with animal proteins), act as growth factors that promote cell proliferation and inhibit cancer cell death. If you are eating a calorie-restricted diet, make sure you’re getting all the daily nutrients you need – a diet packed with vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds will keep you nutritionally loaded. 

I’ve written in my previous blog about the benefits of intermittent fasting. Ideally, intermittent fasting is a period of at least 15 hours without eating. So, if you finish dinner by 7pm, your first meal of the next day would be after 10am at the earliest.  If this sounds too daunting or will have you staring at the clock with hunger pangs, you can try a 12-hour fast (7pm to 7am) and gradually work up from there. I normally do a 15 hour fast most days and it’s an easy protocol to maintain since I don’t have to do anything. Studies conducted on nutritional restriction have shown that it is a promising protocol to facilitate DNA repair and enhance the efficacy of anticancer therapies while protecting normal cells.  

Stay Away from Sugar

Sugar has been linked to cancer in multiple studies. Cancer cells thrive on sugar more than normal cells so eating high carb, sugary foods and beverages will amp up those cancer cells. It’s best to stick to natural forms of sugar found in vegetables and fruits – if your diet is packed with these nutrient-dense foods, your body will gradually stop craving the artificial sugar ‘fix’. 

Avoid Xenoestrogens and Limit Plastics

Xenoestrogens are a sub-category of the endocrine disruptor group that specifically have estrogen-like effects. Studies have shown the association of xenoestrogen exposure with a variety of cancers. Xenoestrogens include chemicals like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), pesticides, mycotoxins, bisphenol A (BPA found in many plastics) among others. These hormone disruptors have also been found in drinking water, cosmetic products and cigarettes. 

Here are several ways to limit xenoestrogen exposure:

Keep Your Indoors Clean

Don’t Get Sunburn!

Getting some sunlight during the day is good and helps keep your circadian rhythm in balance and your Vitamin D levels up, but excessive exposure leading to a sunburn will promote cancer, especially for fair-skinned types. And just because it’s cloudy or you’re in the shade, doesn’t mean you can’t get sunburned. In fact, you are at greater risk to get sunburned on a cloudy day than on a sunny day because you are not as aware of being exposed to the sun. So if you’re heading to the beach for the week, don’t forget your hat, sunscreen and clothing cover-ups. Here are some friendly sunscreens to try: