Holistic Cancer Prevention
When it comes to cancer prevention, and treating cancer, there is definitely not a one-size fits all protocol to follow. There are many different types of cancer and they act differently and thrive differently in the human body. To help prevent cancer, there are some general health protocols that you can follow to minimize your risk of developing cancer. Before starting any cancer prevention regimen, please speak to a medical professional to assess your current health status.
According to The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, there are four cornerstones to good health. A positive mental attitude, a health promoting lifestyle, a health promoting diet, and taking supplementary measures when needed. One of the things that many people don’t tend to focus on are the environmental factors that can contribute to the change in cells which lead to developing cancers. These factors are important to eliminate, or at least reduce your exposure to, when it comes to preventing cancer. Some of these environmental factors include xenoestrogens, second hand smoke, pesticides, herbicides, and radiation. Many of the foods that we eat are contaminated with pesticide and herbicide residues so it is important to always thoroughly wash your produce even if you are buying organic. Over time, these contaminants can build up in your body. A diet that is high in raw and organic fruits, vegetables, fiber, and unsaturated fats is very important. Many people who develop cancer have been found to have a diet that has excess saturated fatty foods and a decrease in crucial antioxidants, fiber, and omega 3 fatty acids such as alpha-linoleic acid. Avoiding the consumption of red meats is beneficial, especially if they are grilled or broiled at high temperatures because this causes potent carcinogens and lipid peroxides to develop, as well as heterocyclic amines. Beneficial sources of omega 3 fatty acids include wild salmon, mackerel, halibut, and herring. The use of flaxseed is also beneficial, especially for ones who are high risk for breast cancers. Flaxseed contains lignans which is a natural phytoestrogen. Lignans can bind to estrogen receptors which can interfere with the cancer promoting effects of estrogen within the breast tissue of males and females. The use of flaxseed also increases the ALA (alpha linoleic acid) in the body. Foods that contain phytochemicals such as glucosinolates and indole-3-carbinol are also very important. Vegetables from the brassica family have these beneficial phytochemicals. These would include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale. Some of the other excellent phytochemicals to focus on would be carotene, coumarin, dithiolthiones, glucosinolates, thioajonates, flavonoids, isoflavanoids, lignans, limonoids, polyphenols, and sterols. In The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, it is advised to follow the optimal health food pyramid. This includes eating a rainbow assortment of fruits and vegetables, reducing your exposure to environmental factors, supporting blood sugar control, not over consuming animal foods, eating healthy fats, focusing on low salt and high potassium, avoiding food additives, reducing risk of foodborne illness, and making sure to drink an adequate amount of purified water throughout the day. (Murray, M. T., & Pizzorno, J., 2012).
In the Doctor’s Book of Natural Health Remedies, I really appreciated how they explained cancer with a quote from Donald Abrams M.D. who is the director of the Integrative Oncology Research Program at the University of California.
“Cancer is like a weed. You need to tend your garden carefully to make the soil as inhospitable as possible so cancer can’t take root in the first place.” – Donald Abrams, M.D.
One of Abrams recommendations is to eliminate what he calls the cancer fertilizers. These would be dairy, sugar, refined flour, and red meats. Not only is this beneficial in reducing our risk of developing cancer, but it also helps in losing excess weight. This book also recommends to follow the three A’s rule: anti-carcinogens, anti-inflammatories, and antioxidants. Carolyn Katzin, a nutritionist specializing in oncology, encourages people to follow this rule because that is where the cancer-fighting power foods are. There are nine foods which Dave Grotto R.D., author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life, suggests that we focus on when it comes to cancer prevention. These foods are barley, black beans, black raspberries, broccoli, green tea, mushrooms, soy, turmeric, and watercress. (Moline, P., 2014). Author of The World’s Healthiest Foods, George Mateljan, recommends the following foods for cancer prevention. These are apples, avocados, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, collard greens, cruciferous vegetables, cucumbers, garlic, grapes, green tea, olives, olive oil, onions, raspberries, rye, shiitake, tofu, tomatoes, and walnuts. (Mateljan, G. , 2015).
In additional to fruits and vegetables, the use of certain spices can also be helpful in preventing the development of cancer. In the book Prescription for Nutritional Healing, author Phyllis A. Balch recommends using cardamom, cayenne pepper, ginger, rosemary, sage, thyme, and turmeric due to the anticancer properties that they have. These can easily be used throughout the day in meals as well as used in herbal tea preparations. Herbs that are also recommended are astragalus, birch, burdock root, cat’s claw, chuchu huasi, cranberry, dandelion, Echinacea, fennel, green tea, licorice root, macela, milk thistle, parsley, pau d’arco, red clover, suma, and boswellia. These herbs all contain various properties to them which can be beneficial in preventing cancer. (Balch, P. A., 2010) In the book The Modern Herbal Dispensatory, written by Thomas Easley and Steven Horne, they also recommend the use of some other herbs. These include chaparral (Larrea tridentate) which has the antioxidant NDGA and helps to cleanse and tone the liver, blood and lymphatics; elder (Sambucus Canadensis, S. nigra) which is known as an anticancer and anti-inflammatory herb; flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum) which contains the phytoestrogen lignin and is used in the prevention of estrogen dependent cancer; ginseng (Panax ginseng) which helps to lower the risk of developing cancer and increases the immune system; pau d’arco which is a potent anticancer herb; poke root (Phytolacca decandra) which is used as an immune stimulant and has anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties; red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) which contains manganese and anthocyanin; sheep sorrel (Rumex acetusella) which is an ingredient in the famous anticancer formula known as Essiac and is also a detoxing herb; shiitake (Lentinula edodes) which is an alterative and immune stimulant; stillingia (Stillingia spp.) which is one of the herbs in the Hoxsey anticancer formula and is an immune stimulant; venus fly trap (Dionaea muscipula) which is very beneficial in malignant conditions and advanced tumors, used in Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and is a very strong immune stimulant; and astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) which is an adaptogenic herb and immune booster. (Easley, T., & Horne, S., 2016).
Following a very healthy dietary protocol is only one way that you can help to lessen your risk of developing cancer and to prevent cancer cells from developing into tumors. You can see that there are many fruits, vegetables, and even herbs that can be very beneficial in cancer prevention based on their chemical make-up and therapeutic properties and how they work in our body. In following a healthy cancer prevention protocol, you can also benefit from all the other positive impacts that eating healthy will have on your body overall. Always remember to consult with a medical professional before starting a cancer prevention protocol as there are many contraindications with not only the herbs, but the nutrients that are found in fruits and vegetables also. Especially if you have already been diagnosed with cancer and have started treatment for it.
Balch, P. A. (2010). Prescription for Nutritional Healing. New York, NY: Penguin Group.
Easley, T., & Horne, S. (2016). The Modern Herbal Dispensatory. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Mateljan, G. (2015). The World's Healthiest Foods. Seattle, WA: George Mateljan Foundation.
Moline, P. (2014). The Doctor's Book of Natural Health Remedies. NY: Galvanized Books.
Murray, M. T., & Pizzorno, J. (2012). The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (3 ed.). New York, NY: Atria Paperback.