Natural Ways to Reduce Risk of Cancer

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Published 2-21-09

“Dear Pharmacist,

I am very afraid of getting cancer because it runs in my family. The stress makes me vigilant about eating right: I’m a vegan and I take medicinal mushrooms and vitamin C every day. Am I on the right track?”

–V.D., Salt Lake City, Utah

Answer: Yes, and your fear is understandable. About 1.5 million people heard the word “cancer” as a diagnosis in 2008.

With cancer, you have to be mindful of the “free radicals” in your body. You want as few as possible. Free radicals are molecules that damage innocent cells. They are normally neutralized in a healthy body.

But if you smoke, expose yourself to pesticides, sun damage, pollution, maintain a poor diet or eat artificial sweeteners and preservatives, you severely reduce your body’s defenses against those free radicals, which cause “oxidative” damage.

Guess what neutralizes it? The “anti” oxidant, of course, such as vitamins A, C, E, D, selenium and ubiquinol.

Free radicals trigger the release of bad chemicals in your body such as IGF-1, IL6, C-reactive protein, homocysteine and TNF-a. These chemicals increase pain, inflammation and the growth of cancer.

that increase inflammatory chemicals include processed meats (like hot dogs), red meat and eggs, which are high in arachidonic acid, dairy protein (casein) and wheat protein (gluten). Recently, a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that meat and dairy increase levels of IGF-1 by 15% and IGF-1 fuels prostate cancer.

If you cut down on foods that trigger immune reactions and eat more organic fruits and vegetables, you can improve immune function.

There are also natural supplements and foods that increase vitality, energy and immune function. These include rosemary, broccoli, olives, ground flaxseed, probiotics, cat’s claw, curcumin, omega 3 fatty acids, ginger, N-acetylcysteine, spirulina and finally, clinically tested brands of modified citrus pectin (MCP). Anecdotal evidence suggests some ingredients in Essiac supplements can strengthen the immune system too.

I’ve also grown fond of “organic germanium” because this dietary supplement is a strong immune booster that sweeps away free radicals and floods your cells with oxygen.

That’s important because cancer growth is interrupted by oxygen. A number of clinical trials support the role of organic germanium (Ge-132) for cancer prevention because it increases T-cells, B-lymphocytes and natural killer cells -think “sheriff” kind of killer cell. Germanium may help with depression, fatigue and heavy metal poisoning. Always talk with your oncologist about introducing new supplements.

At home, I make “anti-everything tea.” I heat 2 cups of water with some sprigs of fresh parsley, dandelion, cilantro, rosemary, cinnamon spice and a teaspoonful of fresh grated ginger; add half a teaspoonful of matcha or dried blueberry loose leaf tea. Steep for 3 minutes and sweeten with stevia or agave syrup.

Did You Know?
Grapeseed oil is an excellent alternative to olive oil, especially in salads or when cooking at high temperatures.