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Healthy Living October Issue
GOOD NEWS ABOUT CANCER: IT CAN BE PREVENTED!


How Cells Become Cancerous

Let us look at what cancer actually is. Cancer involves the production of cells in the body. Every minute 10 million cells divide in our bodies. Complex internal control mechanisms usually ensure that every one of these cell divisions occurs in a precise way at just the right time.(10) The process called cancer can begin when foreign substances in the external environment (chemicals, radiation, viruses, etc.) get into the body and somehow perturb these internal control mechanisms. It can also begin as a result of problems that originate with the body¡¯s internal environment (hormonal imbalances, immune impairment, inherited mutations, etc.).11 Regardless of the combination of factors that start the process, the result is the same: a single cell begins to multiply in an unregulated manner. As this cell multiplies, it passes its characteristic of unregulated growth to its offspring. A cancerous tissue made up of many unregulated cells is the result.


One of the ways that environmental agents appear to induce cancer is by inflicting damage on the cells¡¯ DNA. DNA contains explicit instructions for all cell activities and thus spells out exactly how each cell in our body should function. For example, the DNA tells our bodies what color to make our hair and whether we should have blue eyes or brown eyes. This same DNA controls the rate of division of cells. On certain critical areas of a cell¡¯s DNA there are genes that can stimulate the growth of that cell and other genes that can suppress its growth. One way that cancer can occur is through damage to this DNA. If the damage causes activation of areas that stimulate growth and/or the inactivation of areas that would keep growth in check, the result can be uncontrolled growth of that cell and its offspring. This, as we have noted, signals the beginning of a cancerous growth.12 We refer to that altered cell as a cancer cell if its genetics are changed in such a way as to allow uncontrolled multiplication.


If the body detects abnormal cancerous cells at an early stage, those cells can be destroyed before they have a chance to significantly grow and multiply. In fact, many scientists believe that every day-in every person-some normal cells are converted into cancerous cells. Usually, the person¡¯s immune system destroys these newly altered cells. Unfortunately, however, sometimes a new cancerous cell is not detected and it manages to divide and grow without check. These cells can then continue to silently grow out of control. Ultimately they can form a mass or ¡°tumor.¡± Commonly, cancer cells from larger tumors will get into the blood stream and/or lymph system and travel to other vital organs. All of these changes may occur long before the cancer is even diagnosed. Depending on the growth rate of the cancer, it may take 10 years or longer before signs or symptoms develop that ultimately prompt the medical evaluation that results in the diagnosis of cancer.13


In this chapter you will learn how to detect if you have cancer, and also how to reduce your risk of getting it. We begin by presenting means of detecting cancer.



Early Detection is Crucial

Early detection provides the best chance of treating cancer while it is still curable. There are two ways to do this: (1) prompt recognition of cancer¡¯s symptoms and (2) appropriate use of cancer screening tests.



Recognizing Cancer's Symptoms

Cancer is often curable if detected early enough. Unfortunately, many patients are not mindful of the importance of early detection. Time and time again I have been forcibly impressed with this sad reality. In addition to my work in general internal medicine, I work in the field of gastroenterology. I have many patients who come to my office complaining of intermittent bleeding from the rectum for perhaps a year or more before seeing me or any other physician. Some put off that doctor¡¯s visit because of simple procrastination, while others may have delayed because of the fear of cancer. Still others may have dismissed the seriousness of this warning sign, thinking it was due to a minor condition like a hemorrhoid. Only after they start having pain or other symptoms do they finally decide to have me evaluate the bleeding problem. By this time, for many, it is already too late.


In my evaluation I use a colonoscope-a long, flexible tube that is inserted into the rectum and passed up through the large intestine, or colon. It has a light at the end that allows me to directly look at the inside of the intestine. It also comes with special tools for removing early cancers or non-cancerous polyps without major surgery. As I look through the scope I occasionally find a cancerous mass that is already too large for me to remove. At that point there may be little chance of cure, but the person may still need major surgery-at least to avoid a total bowel blockage. Frequently, death is the result, since by this time the cancer has often spread to vital organs such as the liver.


The message that this and a thousand other scenarios illustrate is that everyone should pay attention to cancer¡¯s warning signs. It is only by heeding these early warnings that we have the best chance of detecting and treating the disease while it is still curable. For years, the American Cancer Society has encouraged all Americans to be aware of seven of the most important cancer warning signs. These are listed in Figure 2: Seven Warning Signals of Cancer.14 Most of these warning signs are self-explanatory. For example, ¡°a change in bowel habits¡± can refer to persistent diarrhea or constipation as well as to changes in color or size of the stools. ¡°Bleeding¡± includes such things as rectal or unusual vaginal bleeding. ¡°Difficulty in swallowing¡± can occur when food seems to remain in your esophagus (swallowing tube) before it goes down. The important message is that any of these seven signs indicates a need for a prompt medical evaluation. Paying attention to your body and recognizing when you develop something that needs to be evaluated may provide a window of opportunity where cancer can be diagnosed-and cured-in its early stages. Unfortunately, even prompt evaluation of these signs does not guarantee that we will diagnose a cancer at a treatable stage.


Recently I had a patient that came to me after only a single episode of rectal bleeding. When I checked the stool microscopically, blood was present. A few days later I did a colonoscopy exam and found a tumor so large that I could not remove it using the scope. Other lab tests showed that the cancer had already spread to the vital organs. Yet for every patient like this, I have others who initiated prompt evaluation of rectal bleeding and turned out not to have cancer-or to have it at an earlier stage so that it could be safely removed by using the colonoscope.


Yes, prompt evaluation of any of cancer¡¯s warning signs is important and should never be put off for a convenient time. It can save your life. However, there is an even better alternative: take advantage of any opportunity to detect cancer before any signs or symptoms develop.



Two Primary Lines of Defense Against Cancer

There are two basic strategies that will prevent most cancers from starting; even if cancer has already begun, they may help the body gain an upper hand. These strategies are simple:
  1. Avoid factors that favor cancer development.
  2. Take advantage of factors that help the body to ward off cancer.


These two strategies are usually effective because of one or both of the following reasons:
  1. They help us avoid or minimize contact with cancer-causing substances.
  2. They help us strengthen our body¡¯s own immune system for fighting cancer.


The remainder of this chapter is divided into two sections. The first section deals with minimizing contact with cancer-causing substances. The second deals with the agents that will help our immune system to fight cancer, and other agents that will reduce our risk of getting cancer.



CANCER PREVENTION

Agents That Act to Reduce the Risk of Cancer

In many of my original presentations on cancer, I entitled this section ¡°Increase Factors To Boost Your Immune System.¡± However, extensive research on the subject of cancer revealed that lifestyle factors that protect us from cancer involve more than their important effects on the immune system. There is a variety of ways that healthful choices help us ward off cancer. Even though this chapter takes a broad approach to cancer preventive factors, I still marvel at how many of these factors exert their protective influence by strengthening our immune systems.


Our bodies are continuously under attack from a variety of germs, toxins, and pollutants. We breathe air that contains dirt particles, smoke, fumes, carbon monoxide, and chemicals. We handle garbage in the normal process of life. We eat food full of bacteria and drink water with varying degrees of contamination from a host of wells and municipal water systems. Night and day, day after day, we encounter countless microbiologic enemies who want to dominate us for their own purposes. Simply put, there is no way to go through life completely avoiding all threats to our health. And there is no way to avoid each and every carcinogen. No matter how hard we try, we will on occasion breathe in the toxins from someone else¡¯s cigarette smoke, or factory, or incinerator.


Because these dangers are all around us, many people throw up their hands and say, ¡°Forget it. I will never be able to avoid every carcinogen, so why even try?¡± This defeatist attitude ignores two important facts. First, it is not an all-or-none phenomenon regarding the dangers of carcinogens. Exposure to a few carcinogens is not as harmful as exposure to many carcinogens. The more we avoid carcinogens, the greater the protection we will enjoy. Second, the ¡°why try¡± argument ignores the fact that our immune systems can help us deal effectively with carcinogens. When we are exposed to a moderate level of carcinogens and our immune systems are in tip-top shape, we can destroy cancer cells before they have a chance to multiply to any significant extent-and before they have a chance to cause symptoms or even be detected on an x-ray or a blood test. This is, indeed, good news concerning the immune system. The immune system has one mission: to identify and destroy foreign invaders before significant harm is done to our bodies. Disease-causing organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, are detected upon entry by a healthy immune system, and are tagged for elimination by hungry immune system cells. Cancer cells should be similarly detected as abnormal cells, treated as unwelcome intruders, and eliminated with a strong immune system.


Our singular duty to the immune system is to develop a lifestyle that will support its constant defense work on our behalf. How we live day by day determines whether our immune system works at peak levels or is inhibited by our neglect and even abuse. But is it possible to strengthen our immune system? Yes, there are a variety of ways we can provide help to our immune systems. Three of the most important are diet, exercise, and stress control. Let us first look at diet, both from the perspective of its immune-enhancing potential and its ability to help us deal with cancerous threats on other levels.



Vitamin A and Related Compounds

It is widely known that vitamin A is required for the maintenance of normal mucous membranes and for normal vision.177 However, few realize that, as one nutrition text put it, ¡°Vitamin A is essential, either directly or indirectly, for the proper functioning of most organs of the body.¡±178 Indeed, vitamin A is important for reproductive function in both males and females, and it also appears to be critical for immune function.


Vitamin A is present in the diet as the fully active form of the vitamin (called the preformed vitamin) and as precursor compounds that the body can convert into vitamin A. The most familiar precursor is beta-carotene. Animal products can be rich sources of preformed vitamin A, but toxicity can also occur from too much of the vitamin in this active state. Beta-carotene, a plant substance, is safer: when vitamin A activity is needed, the body can readily convert it into the active vitamin. Unlike vitamin A itself, beta-carotene is virtually never toxic regardless of the level of intake even if it makes your skin yellow.


Animal products rich in preformed vitamin A often have other strikes against them. Some of the richest sources, like liver, whole eggs, and whole milk are also best avoided because they are loaded with cholesterol.


Both human epidemiology and animal research suggest that vitamin A is important for reducing our risk of cancer. One classic Norwegian study, published in 1975, reported five years of research on over 8000 men. Dr. Bjelke found that, for any given level of smoking, low vitamin A intake increased lung cancer risk.179 For the total population, which includes smokers and nonsmokers, those who had low levels of vitamin A intake had over double the risk of lung cancer. More impressively, those who ever smoked had over four times the risk of developing the most common smoking-related lung cancers if their vitamin A intake was low.


A more recent Japanese study also found that low blood levels of vitamin A increased the risk of lung cancer. Those with serum vitamin A levels in the lowest third had nearly six-times the risk of lung cancer as those with levels in the upper third.180 Not all lung cancers are developed in smokers. Up to 15 percent of lung cancers can occur in those who do not actively smoke, but may be exposed to varying levels of second-hand smoke. Those nonsmokers with a higher beta carotene intake from fruits and vegetables had only 70 percent of the risk of lung cancer as those eating less beta-carotene.181


A host of other beta-carotene relatives occurs in plants. These are called carotenoids and can also be converted into vitamin A.182 Some of these carotenoids include beta cryptoxanthin, lutein, and lycopene. Lycopene causes the red color in strawberries and tomatoes. Foods that are particularly rich in lycopene have been associated with prostate cancer prevention. Harvard¡¯s Health Professionals Follow-up Study found that men who ate tomato sauce as little as once per week had prostate cancer risks 23 percent lower than those who never ate it.183 Those men eating tomato-based products ten or more times per week were up to 35 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer. The study¡¯s lead author, Dr. Edward Giovan-nucci, believes that lycopene may be the key ingredient that causes this risk reduction.


Those with the lowest lycopene blood levels also have a significantly increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.184 Lycopene, like most of the helpful beta carotene relatives, cannot be found in pills but only in fruits and vegetables.


To what do the vitamin A-related compounds owe their protective qualities? First, they act as antioxidants.185 In this role, they help the body dispose of chemicals called free radicals that can genetically damage normal cells and set the stage for cancer. (Free radicals are explained in the next section). Second, vitamin A-related compounds appear to be capable of stimulating the immune system. Mice given additional vitamin A have an improvement in the function of their T lymphocytes, which are a variety of white blood cells that destroy cancer cells.186 Third, vitamin A compounds help body tissues to differentiate, that is, develop in a normal, orderly fashion. Since cancer is characterized by a lack of differentiation, some theorize that vitamin A may help to reverse early cancerous changes by helping those abnormal tissues to move into a more orderly state of growth.187



Free Radicals and Antioxidants

I have made mention of free radicals already in this chapter; they are explained more fully in connection with the antioxidant capacities of melatonin in Chapter 9, ¡°Melatonin: Agent for Rest and Rejuvenation. ¡± However, in order to understand the importance of antioxidant action in preventing lung cancer, some comments about free radicals are in order.


Normally every molecule has electrons that are in orbit around its nucleus. Those electrons normally come in pairs, and render the molecule chemically stable. However, a free radical is a molecule that has an unpaired electron. This leaves it extremely unstable. It has a powerful drive to acquire an electron to pair with the one that lacks a partner. Often within a fraction of a second, a free radical will grab an electron from a neighboring compound. That neighbor who lost an electron is said to have been ¡°oxidized.¡± Furthermore, the oxidized compound itself typically becomes a free radical. Since it now is missing an electron, it has a strong desire to grab one from one of its neighbors-and it usually does so in short order. The result is a chain reaction, where oxidation and damage can spread from one molecule to the next until something stops the process. Molecules that can stop this chain reaction are called antioxidants, which restore the unstable molecules to a chemically stable condition.


Free radicals have been observed to damage DNA and have been linked to cancer. One fascinating series of experiments that linked free radicals to cancer focused on a gene called K-ras. If the normal human K-ras gene is damaged, it can actually cause cancer. Twenty to forty percent of all cancers of the colon, pancreas, and lung appear to be caused at least in part by changes in this gene. There are a few specific locations on the K-ras gene that must be damaged before it takes on this cancer-causing role. The ¡°addresses¡± for these gene locations are technically referred to as codons numbered 12, 13, and 61. Dr. Jackson and associates at the Scripps Research Clinic in California found that free radicals from cigarette smoke and other sources can damage K-ras specifically at two of these critical codons (numbers 12 and 61). This damage is more technically called a mutation. The message is that cancer-causing substances such as cigarette smoke may perform some of their dirty work by acting as free radicals.


While on the subject of free radicals, I should point out that radiation is yet another well known cause of free radicals.188 This kind of free radical production may provide much of the explanation for the increased cancer risk in atom bomb survivors. There are things we can do to limit our exposure to free radicals. However, because all living creatures produce them, we cannot completely avoid these highly reactive compounds. It is for this reason that I encourage individuals to strengthen their antioxidant defenses in addition to avoiding free radicals.


Where can we find foods that are rich in the antioxidant capacity provided by Vitamin A-related compounds? The quantities of vitamin A (as beta-carotene) in certain foods are listed in Figure 19: High Level Carotene (Vitamin A) Foods.189 Note that root vegetables are specifically high in beta-carotene. There is a whole host of other Vitamin A relatives (retinoids) in plant foods that are not included in this list.


Since high beta-carotene intake has been associated with low rates of certain cancers, many have concluded that they can protect themselves from these cancers by taking vitamin A or beta carotene supplements. So far, medical research suggests that these supplements do not provide the benefits that eating plant foods rich in beta carotene delivers. 190 However, for those not taking supplements, the higher the blood levels of beta-carotene, the less the risk of both cancer and heart disease.191


A Finnish study of nearly 30,000 male smokers found that taking beta-carotene pills for up to eight years actually increased their risk of lung cancer by 18 percent.192 Beta-carotene, like many antioxidants, can actually become a free radical or paradoxically increase free radical production when consumed in large amounts by itself.193 However, when beta carotene is combined with adequate Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and other antioxidants such as is found in beta carotene natural foods, a potent antioxidant effect occurs.194 Some are wondering if beta-carotene may be more important in the bloodstream as an indicator of a plant-rich diet that has many other anticancer factors going for it. We will look at a number of those compounds later in the chapter.


There is another danger of beta-carotene supplements. In both human and animal studies, taking beta-carotene pills can lead to the depletion of vitamin E in the body. Mice as well as humans have shown 40 percent drops in their vitamin E levels while on beta-carotene pills.195 This is just one example of what are referred to as ¡°vitamin-vitamin interactions.¡± There are dozens of such interactions, where taking one vitamin increases or decreases your requirement for another. The safest policy is to eat a variety of plant foods that are loaded with a balanced supply of vitamins as well as other cancer-protective substances-some of which have not yet been iscovered.



Eat Foods Rich in Vitamin C

Vitamin C is another cancer-protective food. Its main effects are also likely due to its role as an antioxidant, similar to vitamin A, thus decreasing exposure to toxic ¡°free radicals.¡±


Vitamin C also tends to prevent the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines from nitrites in the diet. It does more than protect the person himself from cancer. Recent research suggests that vitamin C may help to protect sperm from genetic damage. There is evidence that genetically damaged sperm may cause inherited diseases such as cancer in the next generation. Vitamin C provides protection through its role as an antioxidant. Certain childhood malignancies such as leukemia and cancer of the kidney and brain have their roots in the father¡¯s genetically damaged sperm.196 Such sperm abnormalities may represent a combination of factors such as cigarette smoking197 (which appears able to actually oxidize the sperm and genetically damage it), a poor diet (less than 250 mg of Vitamin C a day)198 and low consumption of other antioxidants), and exposure to occupational toxins. Thus a man¡¯s lifestyle, including eating habits, from a few weeks prior to conception up to the time of conception is vitally important in determining the integrity of his offspring¡¯s DNA.


The recommended dietary intake for vitamin C as published by the National Academy of Sciences is 60 mg per day. However, I believe every American should consume at least 250 mg daily. My reasoning is not only for the benefits to men in protecting their sperm for future generations, but also because of the important role that vitamin C plays as an antioxidant. Furthermore, since vitamin C is abundantly supplied in our foods, obtaining this level of intake is not difficult. Some good sources of this important vitamin are listed in Figure 20: Foods Rich in Vitamin C.199



Eat Foods Rich in Vitamin E

Vitamin E appears to help protect against cancer for similar reasons that vitamin C does. It is an antioxidant and a free-radical scavenger. It also has a role in blocking the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines and nitrosamides from foods containing nitrite.200,201,202


As an example of the power of antioxidant vitamins to reduce cancer risk, consider the following study. Researchers obtained a hairless strain of rabbits that were prone to skin cancer and exposed them to ultraviolet light to accelerate the development of cancer. The results are shown in Figure 21: Diet can Protect Against Skin Cancer.


Vitamins C and E provided complete protection against skin cancer. The antioxidant action of these vitamins apparently decreased oxidization of the tissues where skin cancer tends to develop.203


The rabbit skin cancer tests are in agreement with a recent human study of lung cancer from Japan. In this study, it was found that those with low blood levels of vitamin A (beta-carotene) had a six-fold greater risk of lung cancer compared to those with higher levels. The same study found an even more impressive protective effect for Vitamin E blood levels. Those with levels in the lowest third had nearly 8.5 times the risk of those with levels in the upper third.204


It is important to emphasize that most studies that have looked at cancer protection from antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E, have involved individuals who were generally getting their vitamins from natural foods, not vitamins in a bottle. Many people are under the impression that vitamin A, C, and E supplements will provide adequate strength to their immune system. However, as we have seen, some of the research indicates that vitamin supplements do not furnish the protection that food sources of these vitamins provide. Furthermore, foods containing these vitamins (fruits and vegetables) contain a host of naturally occurring protective substances in addition to these widely-hyped vitamins.


If you are looking for some good natural sources of vitamin E, a list of foods that provide healthy doses of this antioxidant vitamin is shown in Figure 22: High Sources of Vitamin E.205


One additional consideration is in order: as beneficial as antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E are, antioxidants are not all good. Excessive amounts can paradoxically act as ¡°pro-oxidants,¡± compounds which actually favor the formation of free radicals. This is true of vitamin C and vitamin E as well as other antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione.206 However, when beta carotene, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E are present in abundant-but not superabundant-amounts (i.e., in whole plant foods) they actually work in combination to elicit a protective antioxidant effect. This effect is much more powerful than just the additive effects of these three separate antioxidants.207 Furthermore, supplements consist almost entirely of one particular type of vitamin E, called alpha-tocopherol. A recent study has found that another type of vitamin E, gamma-tocopherol, may be a better antioxidant and thus better at inhibiting DNA-damaging particles in the body.208 About 75 percent of vitamin E consumed from food is in the gamma-tocopherol form, while supplements contain either none, or less than 10 percent gamma-tocopherol. The most effective action is to temper your enthusiasm for patronizing your local vitamin supplier, and instead invest in more fresh fruits and vegetables.



Whole Plant Foods Alone--Powerful Antioxidants

Another illustration of the power of plant foods to assist in cancer prevention and possibly even to combat the effects of aging was provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). They recently attempted to rate foods according to their measured natural antioxidant properties. Although they used only one group of free radicals (the peroxyls) in their testing, the University of California at Berkeley championed the research on the headlines of their March 1997 newsletter. This research is the first that I am aware of that rated the power of whole plant foods (as opposed to just the sum of their vitamin A, C, and E content) to provide antioxidant effects. The top ten fruit and vegetable sources of antioxidants from this USDA research are listed in Figure 23: The Antioxident Top Ten Fruits and Vegetables.209,210


Each of these foods has much more antioxidant activity than the sum of the antioxidant content of vitamins A, C, and E. For example, one cup of cooked kale has as much antioxidant activity as about 800 mg of Vitamin C or 1100 IU of Vitamin E. However, the kale only contains about 50 mg of Vitamin C and 13 IU of Vitamin E. What accounts for the difference? A whole host of other antioxidants in the kale that we often do not measure. It is well established that many fruits and vegetables have powerful antioxidant effects far beyond what an assessment of conventional vitamin contents would reveal.


These rankings should be viewed with the realization that only a few dozen foods were analyzed, with some food groups not being represented at all-such as the legumes.



Phytochemicals

The natural chemicals that are found in plant foods are called phytochemicals. In one sense of the word, vitamins or any other constituent that is found in a plant product could be given this designation. However, the term is most often used for food chemicals that come from vegetarian sources that cannot be obtained from animal products. There are literally thousands of phytochemicals, many of which appear to have a role in fighting cancer. Many of these chemicals have just recently begun to be appreciated. No doubt many other phytochemicals are yet to be discovered.


Even so, whatever you find in a food supplement pill represents yesterday¡¯s science. Regardless of what becomes next year¡¯s hottest selling phytochemical in the health food store, you can be reasonably certain that those who eat an abundance of plant foods have already been getting generous doses of that compound. On the other hand, those who skimp on fruits and vegetables will be obliged to wait for the vitamin companies to first be convinced of the compound¡¯s promise and salability, and then figure out how to get it into a pill. Study after study continues to reveal the cancer-protective benefits of different phytochemicals. Dr. John D. Potter of Seattle¡¯s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has pointed out that these phyto-chemicals usually work in one of two ways: they either function as blocking agents or suppressing agents.211 Blocking agents work on the carcinogens-preventing them from affecting the body¡¯s cells (this may occur by destroying their activity or other means). Suppressing agents work on the body¡¯s own cells, combating malignant changes that may have been started by carcinogens.


Many of the insights on the health benefits of phytochemicals come directly from the laboratory. A list of a few of the phytochemicals that have been shown to prevent or even treat cancer in the laboratory and the foods they are found in are listed in Figure 24: Food Sources of Cancer- Fighting Phytochemicals.212,213,214,215,216


Most of the research on the effects of phytochemicals on humans comes from nutritional epidemiologists. These researchers study the dietary habits of people and then draw conclusions as to which dietary factors are protective and which are harmful. Most of us do not sit down to a meal of supplement pills that consist of isolated phytochemicals. We obtain these protective compounds in the fruits, grains, nuts, and vegetables that we eat. As a result, research tends to show connections between foods that are rich in phytochemicals and cancer risk.


Identifying which specific phytochemicals are providing the benefits is usually open to question. Even though statistical models may tend to single out one or a few compounds, there are likely many hundreds of compounds that we do not know about-many of which may be even more potent that those that we already recognize. From this perspective, let's take a look at a few examples from the medical literature to more fully appreciate how phytochemical-laden foods appear to be decreasing cancer risk.


One group of foods that are loaded with cancer-protective factors are the cruciferous vegetables. These members of the cabbage family include brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, turnips, kohlrabi, bok choy, collards, and cabbage. One study showed that those who ate cabbage at least once per week had two-thirds less colon cancer than those who ate it once per month or less.217 Indoles are among the cancer-protective phytochemicals in these plants. These compounds work as blocking agents by increasing colon enzymes that can deactivate carcinogens.218


Eating whole fruit dramatically reduces the risk of certain cancers. In the Adventist Health Study involving 34,000 subjects, Seventh-day Adventists that eat fruit twice a day decrease their risk of developing lung cancer by a startling 74 percent compared to those that eat fruit less than twice a week. Stomach and other cancers were also dramatically reduced.219


Over 90 percent of the 34,000 subjects were nonsmokers, which meant that they were all at a low risk of developing lung cancer at the outset. However, nonsmokers infrequently do get lung cancer. This study shows that their risk can be sharply lowered even more by including an abundance of fruit in their diets.


Soy is another food highly touted for its cancer-protective properties. It is a veritable gold mine of cancer-protective phyto-chemicals. Dr. Mark Messina summarized over 30 different epidemiologic studies on soybeans and cancer in his book, The Simple Soybean And Your Health.220 He points out that the results suggest that those who consume the most soy foods have the least cancer. These studies suggest that soy decreases cancer risk at many sites including breast, colon, rectum, lung, and stomach.


A large study from the Netherlands involved over 120,000 men and women. Researchers there made a connection between another phytochemical-rich food and cancer prevention, the simple onion. The cancer it prevented was stomach cancer. Those eating the most onions (one or more onions every other day) had half the stomach cancer risk of those who never ate onions.221


Garlic has been shown to protect against developing cancer; in mice, it is effective in treating cancer. The amount of 50 milligrams of garlic administered in 3 ounces of drinking water to mice with bladder cancer led to significant shrinking of the tumors, while 500 milligrams of garlic not only reduced the cancer size but actually decreased the mortality rate from the cancer.222 All of this occurred without side effects. The researchers believe that the garlic may have stimulated the mice¡¯s immune systems, helping them to combat the cancer.


The message from these few selected examples is not that we should eat a soy, cabbage, and onion sandwich every day. Rather, I recite these studies only to illustrate the wealth of scientific information that is coming out about many fruits, grains, and vegetables. In fact, some of the most exciting research looks at all these foods collectively. For example, Harvard¡¯s Dr. Walter Willett has observed that there is abundant and consistent scientific evidence which demonstrates that ¡°high intakes of fruits and vegetables¡± reduce the risks of ¡°most human cancers.¡±223 Willett sees in this evidence support for ¡°the concept that micronutrients [such as vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals] may play important roles in the prevention of human cancers.¡±224 Indeed, the consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with lower rates of cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, lung, prostate, urinary bladder, stomach, esophagus, cervix, larynx (voice box), mouth, pharynx (throat), and liver.225, 226, 227


The National Research Council has come to similar conclusions as Dr. Willett: ¡°There is consistent evidence that fruit and vegetable consumption is protective against several cancers... Therefore, in considering appropriate preventive measures, consumption of the relevant foods (the foods themselves)-not the putative protective components of those foods-should be encouraged.¡±228 In other words, the Council is encouraging all Americans to eat foods that contain cancer-protective compounds rather than seeking supplements that feature those compounds. Considering the overwhelming evidence as to the importance of protective phytochemicals in fruits, grains, and vegetables, I could not agree more.


Even if the prospects of making a dramatic dietary change seem daunting, take heart. There are many natural food cookbooks that can make the transition much easier. These books feature an abundance of fruits, grains, and vegetables in a multitude of good tasting recipes. Appendix II lists several such books.



Fiber Reduces Cancer Risk

Another nutrient class that some would include among the phytochemicals is that of fiber. Fiber includes the parts of plant materials that resist digestion by the normal human intestinal system. Just as there are many different types of vitamins, so there are many different types of fiber. These include celluloses, hemicelluloses, lignin, pectins, gums, mucilages, and algal polysaccharides. Major food sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals, and legumes.229 There is virtually no fiber in meat, milk, eggs, cheese, or any other animal product.


A fiber-rich diet clearly reduces the risk of developing colon cancer. Drs. Howe, Benito, and colleagues analyzed the results of 13 studies that looked at the influence of fiber intake on colon cancer.230 They found a strong dose-response relationship when they looked at fiber intake: the more fiber eaten, the lower the risk of colon cancer. Specifically, when the researchers divided people into five groups based on their level of fiber intake, those with the lowest fiber intakes had the greatest risk of colon cancer. Even those in the next lowest group of fiber consumption still had 21 percent less colon cancer when compared to the poorest fiber eaters. Those in the group with average fiber intake had 31 percent less, those with somewhat above average intake had 37 percent less, and those with the best fiber intake had nearly 50 percent less risk of this major cancer.


The researchers concluded that if the average U.S. citizen would merely increase his or her fiber intake by 70 percent (thus going from a current average of about 18 grams per day to around 30 grams per day), we would decrease our national rate of colon cancer by 31 percent and would save some 50,000 cases of colon cancer annually.231


Earlier in this chapter we looked at data from Harvard University¡¯s Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Researchers there studied the relationships of lifestyle to the lesions that precede colon cancer, known as colorectal adenomas. In addition to finding links with alcohol, the Harvard group has documented relationships between these adenomas and both high saturated fat consumption and low fiber intake. Specifically, those with high saturated fat intake had double the risk of these lesions. Men with the poorest fiber intake had almost three times the risk of colorectal adenomas when compared with those consuming fiber liberally. When they identified a group of men eating liberal amounts of saturated fat and little fiber, they discovered that they experienced nearly four times the risk of those on a low saturated fat, high fiber diet.232


Why does fiber lower cancer risk? There is a variety of possible reasons. These include:
  1. Fiber draws water to itself. Therefore, it may help to dilute any carcinogens that gain access into the intestine.
  2. Fiber helps to speed up the passage of colon contents, thus decreasing the time for any potential carcinogens in the stool to damage the lining of the colon.
  3. Fiber helps to decrease the production of altered bile acids known as ¡°secondary bile acids.¡± These altered bile acids appear able to cause colon cancer.
Dietary fiber has protective benefits regarding other cancers as well. For example, a high fiber diet has been shown to decrease breast cancer by more than 50 percent.233 Dr. David Rose of the American Health Foundation believes that the evidence suggests that fiber ¡°may favorably modify the enhanced breast cancer risk associated with the typical American high-fat, low-fiber diet.¡± He suggests that fiber may work through a variety of ways to lower breast cancer risk, but the primary effect is probably through affecting either the activity or the metabolism of estrogen. Associated with plant fibers are plant estrogens (¡°fiber-associated phytoestrogens¡°) that may lower breast cancer risk. There is also evidence that fiber can interfere with the intestinal re-absorption of estrogen-this would also be expected to lower breast cancer risk.234



Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral found in whole grains, such as wheat grown in North and South Dakota in selenium-rich soil. A diet high in selenium (approximately 200 to 400 micrograms a day) decreases the risk of lung, colon, and prostate cancer.235 But another word of caution for supplement users: too much selenium is toxic and causes hair and nail loss, bad breath, or other symptoms.



Maintain Proper Weight

Increased body weight has been linked to an increased risk of several different types of cancer. The list includes cancers of the breast, kidney, endometrium (inner lining of the womb), and prostate.236 Let us examine a few of the many studies that have explored this relationship.


A classic Japanese study done by Dr. Hirayama found that thin women had the lowest rates of breast cancer, as portrayed in Figure 25: Obesity Increases Breast Cancer Risk. 237


In this figure, the ¡°overweight¡± category was up to about 20 percent more than the upper limit of normal weight; obese was any weight above the ¡°overweight¡± range. Note that obese women had a three-fold increased risk for those who had not yet gone through menopause, but the risk climbed to a twelve-fold level for those who were post-menopausal.


Another way to look at factors that predispose women to breast cancer is to study those who developed more than one breast cancer that was not spread from the initial cancer. Such studies are important because they would be expected to identify a group of women who have special factors favoring the development of breast cancer. In 1985, other Japanese researchers identified such a group of over 60 patients and compared them with individuals who had just a single breast cancer.238 A strong relationship emerged between weight and multiple breast cancers. Those who were overweight had triple the risk of having more than one episode of breast cancer, demonstrating that the overweight condition in some way predisposed them to the development of this malignancy.


American research has also been published on the breast cancer-overweight relationship. Dr. Kumar and associates at the University of South Florida found that weight gain from puberty to early adulthood was especially important in increasing breast cancer risk. They found that an extra 10 pounds on a 30-year-old woman raised her risk of breast cancer by 23 percent, while an extra 20 pounds raised her risk 52 percent.239 Gaining weight after the age of 18 has just recently been found to be an ¡°independent risk factor¡± (apart from alcohol consumption, use of hormones, physical activity levels, age of first pregnancy, menarche, and menopause) for the development of breast cancer.240


Women are not the only ones who experience an increased cancer risk due to being overweight. In 1985, Dr. Garfinkel reported results from one of the largest studies that examined the relationship between body weight and cancer risk of 750,000 men and women. A 12 year follow-up study revealed increased cancer mortality for those who were overweight. The findings are tabulated in Figure 26: Obesity aned Increased Risk of Death from Cancer.241


Note that men who were 40 percent overweight had a 33 percent increased risk of dying from cancer. Women who were overweight by the same percentage increased their cancer death rates by 55 percent. In men, this relationship was statistically significant for cancers of the colon, rectum, and prostate. For women, risk increased not only for breast cancer but also cancer of the uterus (cervix and endometrium), ovary, and gallbladder.242


Why would being overweight increase cancer risk? There are several possible explanations. First, excess fat stores may influence hormonal levels. Being overweight increases the risk of something called insulin resistance which in turn leads the pancreas to make more insulin in order to control blood sugars. This may in turn increase colon cancer risk. There is evidence that insulin is an important growth factor for colon cancer cells. Hormonal effects also enter the picture with breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers. Fat tissue can convert a hormone made by the adrenal gland (called androstenedione) into estrogen. This excess estrogen can further stimulate cell growth in hormone-sensitive female tissues, thus increasing the possibility of cancerous changes over time.


Second, excess fat stores may serve as a repository for fat-soluble toxins. More body fat allows for greater storage of these compounds that can later be mobilized and transported to tissues that are sensitive to the cancer-inducing effects of these toxins. Third, having more body fat stores provides more readily available energy resources. This in turn may stimulate cell multiplication and thus affect the promotion phase of cancer development. Excess weight carried around the stomach may be more of a risk in this regard than excess weight on the hips. Fat in the stomach area seems to be much more metabolically active. Fourth, being overweight may identify a population that, in general, eats more calories. This is of significance to cancer. It has been known for years that caloric restriction tends to protect from cancer while excess caloric intake appears to increase cancer risk. Total per capita calories consumed have been linked in international comparisons with cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, uterus, and kidney.


Fifth, being overweight may be indicate higher fat consumption. Laboratory animals tend to become overweight if given foods that are highly palatable to them, particularly foods that are high in fat and low in fiber. Similar relationships have been found in research on humans. We have already noted how a higher fat diet increases cancer risk. It disturbs hormonal balance and may independently suppress immune system function.


How do you know if you are overweight? There are a variety of ways to find out: one of the standard methods is to compare yourself to tables such as those published by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. However, those tables do not work well for people that have significantly greater amounts of muscle mass than average. By such standards most body builders, for example, would be overweight. Therefore, some feel a more important determinant is whether you are ¡°over-fat.¡± Measurements of body fat can be made by a variety of methods ranging from underwater weighing to skin fold measurements. Newer methods use an infrared beam or resistance to a weak electrical current to estimate body fat percentage.


A simpler and yet very valuable method for estimating excess body fat compares the size of the waist to that of the hips.243 You can do this yourself. Take a measuring tape and measure around your hips, then around your waist. For women, the waist size should be 20 percent less than the hip size. For example, if the hips measure 40 inches, the waist should be 8 inches less, or 32 inches (0.2 times 40 = 8). If it is any larger than 32, you have excessive weight.


For men, the waist size should be 10 percent less than hip size. For example, if the hips measure 40 inches, the waist should be 4 inches less (40 times 0.1 = 4), or 36 inches.244 If it is larger, you are overweight. Those who are over-fat by the waist/hip method not only have a greater risk of cancer but also a greater risk of diabetes, hypertension, and coronary heart disease.



Watch Out for Excess Protein

A diet low in protein, particularly in certain amino acids, will also strengthen the immune system against cancer. More information is provided in Chapter 7 entitled, ¡°The Great Meat and Protein Myth.¡±



Viruses in Animal Products

A partial listing of viruses known to cause human cancers includes: the Hepatitis B virus, the Epstein-Barr virus, human T-cell leukemia viruses, and HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus.245 The human papilloma virus, which also causes cancer, is dealt with in Chapter 15, ¡°AIDS and HIV-The Untold Story.¡± In addition to viruses, parasites-which are common overseas-also find themselves on the list of cancer-causing infectious agents. For years, two such parasites have been known to cause cancer: they are Schistosoma haematobium and Chlonorchis sinensis. The former is linked to bladder cancer, while the latter is a known liver cancer risk factor.246 Chronic bacterial infections such as Helicobacter Pylori can cause cancer of the stomach and have been linked to lymphoma.247 With a renewed appreciation for the dangers of infectious diseases, many are wondering whether meat and other animal products may harbor infectious agents that could increase cancer risk. I deal with this concern in Chapter 10, ¡°Animal Diseases and Human Health Risk.¡±



Regular Meals with Nothing Between

Meal frequency has been identified as a risk factor for colon cancer. A number of studies in different parts of the world demonstrate that eating meals more frequently leads to an increased risk of colon cancer.248, 249, 250 Dr. La Vecchia and colleagues in Milan Italy have published on this subject. Their group found that the risk of both colon and rectal cancer could be nearly doubled by eating more frequently, as tabulated in Figure 27: Colon Cancer and Meal Frequency.251


Four meals per day almost double that imparted increased risk. Further research estimated that 13 percent of all cancers in Italy could be prevented if fewer meals were eaten on a daily basis. (To put things in perspective, it was estimated that another 17 percent of colon cancers were due to high red meat consumption, and other dietary factors such as low intakes of vitamin C and A accounted for another 30 percent of colon cancers).


What is the connection between meal frequency and colon cancer risk? A number of researchers including La Vecchia feel that it has to do with meals stimulating gall bladder emptying and the release of bile. Bile can then be converted into cancer-causing compounds, and more frequent bile release would be expected to increase the exposure time of the lining of the colon to these toxic bile acid products.


McBurney and colleagues have provided an alternate explanation. They believe that meal frequency is particularly a problem for those on a high fat, high protein, low fiber diet. Such eating habits alter the small intestinal contents and result in rapidly fermentable material being dumped into the colon at irregular intervals. This material leads to a surge in the colon¡¯s microbial population that generates products that are toxic to the colon. More frequent meals stimulate more frequent masses of this fermentable material entering the colon (each mass corresponding to a meal), which increases the frequency that the colon lining is exposed to such toxic products.


The results concur with counsel given years ago by Ellen White: ¡°It should be shown that to eat two meals is far better for the health than to eat three.¡±252 She provided further clarification: ¡°Most people enjoy better health while eating two meals a day than three; others, under their existing circumstances, may require something to eat at supper time; but this meal should be very light...¡±253 The medical research presented throughout this book is most consistent with such an eating style. We should eat a hearty breakfast in the morning. This is an appropriate time to eat several servings of fruits and grains, with nuts in moderation. These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, with no cholesterol. The second meal can be at noon or in the early afternoon. This may sound like an impossible eating style for many people-and it may not be permitted by your work schedule. However, if you have the ability to implement such a program, I have found that most individuals not only adjust to it, but actually thrive on such a regimen. Optimally, if you do eat in the evening, it should be a light meal; the heavier the evening meal the greater chance for weight gain, as illustrated in Chapter 1, ¡°Principles for Optimal Health.¡± A good example of a light supper would be a meal based on fruit.



Exercise - A Friend Your Immune System Needs

Exercise and a healthy immune system go hand in hand. Cancer mortality rates are significantly lower in regular exercisers. A well-publicized study of Harvard Alumni found that those who burned only 500 calories or less per week in exercise had 35 percent more cancer deaths than those expending greater than 2,000 calories per week.254 Deaths from all causes, including heart disease, were increased by over 60 percent in the poorer exercisers.


Over 17,000 men ages 30 to 79 were classified according to their level of physical activity on two separate occasions over a 25 year period. Those who were highly active (expending 2,500 or more calories per week in exercise) had 38 to 61 percent less lung cancer than those who were inactive (only 1,000 calories or less of exercise per week).255 Heavier individuals who were highly active dropped their colon cancer risk by 44 to 81 percent. Expressed in other terms, their inactive peers had up to five times the risk of colon cancer. Other studies have also suggested that physical inactivity increases colon cancer risk.256, 257 Still other studies have linked physical activity to protection from other cancers. Researchers at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas have found that those who exercise moderately have only about three-quarters of the prostate cancer risk experienced by their inactive peers. The high exercise group fared by far the best; they had only about 30 percent of the risk faced by those getting little or no regular exercise.258


Exercise¡¯s protective effects extend to women as well. One recent study found that women who exercise an average of four hours per week during their childbearing years decrease their risk of breast cancer by nearly 60 percent. Even those who only had one to three hours per week of exercise cut their risk by 30 percent compared to non-exercisers.259, 260


Why does exercise reduce cancer risk? There are several possible reasons-many of them center around the immune system. For example, strenuous, sustained exercise stimulates white blood cells to release a compound called interleukin 1.261 We could expect any vigorous exercise to accomplish this effect, whether it is gardening, brisk walking, or dozens of other activities. This is good news because interleukin-1, in and of itself, is a natural chemotherapy agent. Beyond this, interleukin-1 stimulates the release of interleukin-2, which also aids the immune system. These interleukin chemicals from our white blood cells serve as modulators of the whole immune system.


Another way that vigorous exercise helps the immune system is by doubling the blood plasma interferon levels.262 Interferon is another chemotherapy agent that acts against certain types of cancer such as hairy-celled leukemia. It also fights chronic viral infections such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C.


Exercise also increases other critical immune substances, the natural killer cells.263 Natural killer cells are certain white blood cells that seem to have a natural instinct to detect abnormal cells and destroy them. They seem to be especially important in defending us from cancer.264 Finally, the blood lymphocytes, which are a broad group of white blood cells that are very prominently involved in the immune system itself, are increased with exercise.265


Exercise also has the ability to modulate hormonal mechanisms. This may be important in both sexes at all ages, but has been particularly noted in young women who exercise vigorously. It is common knowledge that the hormonal changes from exercise in that group can be so profound that menstrual cycles can cease.


Although no one really knows how much exercise is optimal regarding cancer prevention, most experts agree that one of the most important factors is consistency. Indeed, exercise should be a part of our daily routine if we are really serious about cancer prevention.



Sunlight in Moderation

Most of the media¡¯s attention has been on sunlight as a cause of cancer, as well it is-in excess, as mentioned earlier in the chapter. However, sunlight deprivation increases the risk of cancer of the breast, colon, and prostate, possibly due to less circulating Vitamin D-3 and its derivatives.266 The authors of this discovery conclude ¡°that there should be no broad condemnation of moderate sunlight exposure.¡±267


Sun exposure may actually help prevent colon cancer. Researchers at the University of Washington studied cancer rates in nine areas of the United States. They discovered that men from Southern states had much less colon cancer than Northerners.268 When compared to New Mexicans, men in Michigan, Connecticut, and Washington had colon cancer rates 50 to 80 percent higher. The effect also seemed to hold true for women, although it was not as marked. One explanation for this decrease in colon cancer risk in southern states is increased sunlight exposure with a resulting increase in vitamin D levels. Vitamin D appears able to suppress the growth of cancerous cells.



Stress and the Immune System

To optimally boost your immune system, adequate stress control is a must. Studies show that people who are not coping adequately with major stressors in their lives have a much greater chance of developing cancer or a life-threatening infection. A number of studies have been performed on people who already have a life-threatening cancer. Although the specific biologic process of a person¡¯s cancer is the most consistent factor affecting survival, social support (such as given by a loving spouse) and a faith dimension (such as prayer) are two relatively consistent characteristics among long-term survivals of cancer.269 Because stress control is so important, I have written an entire chapter, ¡°Stress without Distress¡± (Chapter 14), on how adequate stress control can be achieved even by those under very high stress.



Summary of Agents That Prevent Cancer

To close Section II of this chapter, a review of the many actions that we can take to dramatically reduce our risk of cancer is in order. And they are all within the scope of practicality. They are not complicated; they can be implemented into our lives with no additional cost. For convenience, a summary list of the elements of a lifestyle that will vastly reduce our risk of getting cancer is shown in Figure 28: Elements of a Cancer-Protective Lifestyle.


As we have seen, antioxidants, selenium, vitamins A, C, and E, and many phyto-chemicals have been found to have special qualities that prevent cancer. Fruits and vegetables that contain one or more of these substances in good quantity are listed in Figure 29: Cancer-Protective Fruits and Vegetables.



A Personal Cancer-Protective Lifestyle in a Nutshell

The information in this chapter enables us to outline a personal cancer-protective lifestyle. Such a lifestyle would avoid carcinogens. In this chapter we have seen that the leading and most common carcinogen is tobacco. Smokers need to kick the tobacco habit; efforts should continue to have a smoke-free, tobacco-free society to eradicate second hand smoke.


Regarding alcohol, the data is all in. We need to stop using alcohol. Indeed, even moderate drinking increases cancer, and when you consider that 56 percent of the American population drink alcoholic beverages, this is no small matter. When we think about alcohol¡¯s carcinogenic potential and what it is doing in relation to increasing accidents, homicides, and suicides, we need to choose to abstain and encourage others to do the same-it is the only option that makes sense.


If we really want to maximize our personal cancer-protection effort, we must choose the foods that will work for our benefit and eliminate the foods that are working against us, as the many studies cited in this chapter have shown. We have seen that societies that regularly consume meat, high fat dairy products, and saturated fats associated with them, have the highest rates of cancer. Changing our diet does not mean cutting down on red meat and eating instead more chicken, turkey, or fish, which contain many toxins, viruses, and other potentially dangerous substances. There is no net gain from that approach; it still has many of the original hazards. Only by changing from the typical American animal-based diet to a plant-based diet (such as in China and many other countries in the world who have the lowest cancer rates) will we achieve the results we want. Eating freely of fruits, grains, vegetables, and nuts in moderation, prepared in a variety of ways, offers us the most healthful diet in the world. It was the first diet recorded in the history of man and is still the best that we know of today. It not only eliminates a host of cancer-causing substances but is also ideal for maintaining proper weight. It boosts the immune system by making use of vitamins A, C, and E and other very important protective phytochemicals and fiber.


Coupling this diet with regular aerobic exercise will boost the immune system even further. Rounding out the program with adequate stress control, moderate sunlight, weight control, and decreasing snacks and meal frequency will maximize the preventive potential. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. All of us are indeed capable of changing our behavior for the good, especially when we know what benefits may result. The personal stakes are high-it is a life and death matter-my life, your life, and the lives of our children and loved ones. The message is clear and it calls for action. The time to 0act is now.



The Best Kept Secret for Preventing a Catastrophic Disease

Think of what would happen if tomorrow-after all the billions of dollars spent on cancer treatment research-a miracle cancer pill was finally discovered. And it¡¯s promise was not false: it fully cured 90 percent of all cancers! No doubt the drug would make headlines. The company that developed it could put a huge price tag on it. After all, think of all the money it would save on surgeries, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy hospitalizations. No doubt it would have its share of side effects-all drugs do. But who cares about side effects when you have cancer and the cure is just a pill away!


The drug developers would probably receive the Nobel Prize for their work. It would not be surprising if the President of the United States invited the chief investigators to a special reception at the White House. What a cause for rejoicing this truly would be. All the hoopla, the national fame, and the honor bestowed upon the participants would be tremendous-as well it should.


But stop for a minute. There is no sign that any drug like this is on the horizon. Furthermore, what is really more important, prevention or cure? We are all aware of the old saying, ¡°An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.¡± But do we really live as though we believe it? Even if that imaginary cancer cure pill really were developed, think of all the problems that cancer causes-before it is even diagnosed: all the medical bills, time lost from work, and family stress, not to mention the pain and suffering caused by the disease. Even if there were a cure for every single cancer, prevention would still be much cheaper and much more desirable and pleasant. But in an era when, despite all the billions of dollars that have already been spent on hopes of that elusive wonder cancer drug, and we are still nowhere close to such a magic cancer cure,270 how much more important is the prevention of cancer?


As hard as it may be to believe, in a sense, the magic cancer pill has been found. Research has revealed that we now have up to a 90 percent effective ¡°cure¡± for cancer in the form of a comprehensive cancer-preventive lifestyle. But there have been no headlines, no hoopla, no presidential invitations, no Nobel prizes. In fact, hardly anyone even knows about this powerful lifestyle. Indeed, there are many people who know various aspects of the program I have described in this chapter. Many are aware of the importance of stopping smoking, or exercising, or eating more fruits and vegetables. Yet, regarding the whole package that can give such amazing results, most of the general public is totally unaware. Unfortunately, this includes health professionals. Although most are aware of some of the elements I have discussed in this chapter, few are aware of the power of the comprehensive lifestyle approach to cancer that has been presented.


This lack of awareness is even more striking in light of the ¡°age of information¡± in which we live. We should be clearly broadcasting this comprehensive approach to cancer prevention on every television and radio station; we should present it graphically and powerfully in every newspaper, magazine, and computer news service. This lifestyle should be the subject of a massive government educational program. If such happened tomorrow, and the American public embraced the new way of living that was championed, the number two killer in America would soon be relegated to the bottom of the 10 leading causes of death. The pain, suffering, productive work lost, family heartache, doctor and hospital visits, not to mention their associated costs, would be greatly diminished.


But for the most part, the media, researchers, health educators, and Presidents have been deathly silent in promoting a comprehensive lifestyle program for cancer prevention. They, like most of society, declare war on cancer by focusing energy on elusive treatments and narrow preventive approaches, when a comprehensive preventive lifestyle is right at our finger tips. Is it simply ignorance? Or is it possible that many of our leaders, scientists, and media spokespersons are not willing to make bold lifestyle changes themselves (so long as they are feeling well)-and thus would be uncomfortable in challenging anyone else to adopt such a way of living?


Is there a fear of backlash from powerful commercial interests if the optimal cancer preventive lifestyle is advocated? (The message of this chapter will not likely be popular with the likes of the alcohol, meat and dairy industries, etc.) I honestly do not know what all the impediments are, but I do know that now is the time to get the word out about this total lifestyle. And now is the time for each one of us to become a living example of the power of such a lifestyle to combat America¡¯s fearful number two killer.




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