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Cancer Prevention

- Avoid being underweight or overweight: limit weight gain during adulthood to less than 11 pounds

- Walk briskly for one hour each day, and exercise vigorously for at least one hour in a week:

Regular exercise helps reduce all cancers by enhancing the immune system. After moderate exercise, studies show that the human body has higher level of circulating cancer fighting cells called natural killer cells. Exercise also speeds the rate at which waste products, including carcinogens, travel through the intestines. The CDC estimates that lack of physical activity causes 250,000 deaths every year in the USA.

- Increase your intake of vegetable and fruits:

Each day, eat 13-15 ounces of vegetables and fruits and 20-30 ounces of a variety of cereals (grains), legumes (such as peas and beans), roots, tubers and plantains. Try to avoid, as much as possible, highly processed food and refined sugars. Carbohydrates should be consumed as whole grains.

- Drink alcohol in moderation:

Moderate alcohol consumption may reduce mortality related to cardiovascular-causes, but excessive alcohol consumption (more than two drinks a day), is harmful and has been linked to cancer in the upper respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, especially when alcohol is mixed with smoking.

- Limit your total daily intake of fat to no more than 20% of your total calories:

One gram of fat contains 9 calories. So if your daily intake is 2000, you should only consume 400 calories in fat (or 44.5 grams). Avoid fats that come from animals. The fats you consume should come mainly from plants and should be unhydrogenated; olive oil, especially, appears beneficial. Keep a close watch on your consumption of salad dressings, margarine, cheese, ground beef, lunchmeats and dairy products. These foods are where Americans get most of their fats.

- Limit you consumption of read meat to less than three ounces daily:

Fish and poultry are far better for you than read meat. Eat white poultry, as opposed to dark, without the skin. Not only is red meat a major source of the wrong kind of fat, but it is one of the main sources of dioxin, a toxic chemical that a 1994 report by the Environmental Protection Agency says may be responsible for anywhere from 26,500 to 265,000 cases of cancer.

- Avoid adding salt:

Limit intake of salted foods and the use of table or cooking salts. Instead, use herbs and spices to season food. You will get all the sodium you need without adding salt.

- Prepare and store food safely:

Avoid food that has been stored for a prolonged period at ambient temperature. Such storage makes food more likely to be contaminated with cancer-causing microtoxins.

- Avoid charred, smoked and cured food:

Avoid burning of meat juices. Limit your consumption of meat, including poultry that has been grilled on an open flame. Charred, smoked and cured foods cause the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines in the digestive tract. These cancer-triggering compounds form when nitrites in foods interact with amines in digestive juices.

- Do not smoke or chew tobacco:

435,000 Americans die each year of a smoking related diseases. According to the National Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention, each cigarette you smoke subtracts, on average, about seven minutes from your life. Do you really need to hear more?

- Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun:

Each year more than 700,000 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer, caused by the sun's ultraviolet rays. Malignant melanoma claims 7,000 American lives every year.

- Cancer prevention diet:

Broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts  -  Rich in cancer-fighting sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, antioxidants which can protect the body against cell-damaging free radicals.

Green tea - Antioxidants called catechins may reduce the size and number of cancer tumors, although large amounts of green tea are needed to be effective. The U.S. National Cancer Institute is funding a study looking at the the effects of drinking 10 to 15 cups of decaffeinated green tea in reversing pre-cancerous lesions in the lungs of former smokers.

Flaxseed - A good source of omega-3 fatty acids, the nutty seeds are associated with lowering cholesterol and may reduce the risk of some cancers, researchers say.

Soy - Soy beans and other soy-containing foods contain isoflavones which can lower cholesterol and are believed to lower digestive cancers such as colon and rectal. It is believed that women who eat a lot of soy may be less prone to breast cancer because of reduced estrogen, although research is inconclusive. The FDA is considering whether to allow foods containing soy protein to claim a reduced risk of certain cancers on product labels.

Tomatoes - A rich source of the antioxidant lycopene, which is believed to protect against prostate cancer as well as heart disease. Cooked tomatoes are actually a better source than raw because the process releases the lycopene from cells.

 - Cancer fighting supplements:

Vitamin C - Found in citrus fruits, broccoli and peppers, it can protect against cell damage and is important to the function of the immune system.

Calcium - May reduce the risk of colorectal polyps, precursors of colon cancer.

Vitamin E - Found in almonds, wheat germ oil, peanuts and turnip greens, E is an antioxidant which neutralizes free radicals, the toxic oxygen-based molecules that damage cells and can lead to cancer. The National Cancer Institute is conducting a large study combining vitamin E and selenium, a mineral found in walnuts, alongside a placebo test in men aged 55 or older, to see effects on prostate cancer incidence. Results are due in a few years. May also protect against bladder cancer, according to recent research.

Vitamin D - Found in fortified foods like milk, the body makes vitamin D when sunlight or ultraviolet light hit the skin. Taken with calcium, it’s linked to a lower risk of colon and prostate cancers.

Folic acid - Folate has a preventive effect on colorectal cancer; may have a preventive effect on breast cancer in women who drink.

Lycopene - A powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes and tomato products such as tomato sauce and watermelon, lycopene may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Selenium - A trace mineral which may destroy diseased cells is believed to reduce prostate, colon and lung cancers. Found in Brazil nuts and walnuts. The National Cancer Institute is conducting a large study combining vitamin E and selenium alongside a placebo test in men aged 55 or older to see if the combination protects against prostate cancer.

Source: National Cancer Institute; American Institute for Cancer Research; Dartmouth Medical School

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