Are You Eating Your Way To Cancer?
All indications are that cancer will prove to be an even greater health scourge in the 21st century than it was in the last century. As of last year, cancer has already overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death around the world, and soon cancer is projected more than half of all Americans (currently it affects one out of every two men and more than 40% of all women!).
Having researched cancer for decades, I am convinced that it is largely a disease of our toxic modern lifestyle. For the first part of the 20th century, cancer was relatively rare, both in the United States and abroad. At the beginning of the last century approximately one of every 100 Americans developed cancer. Even in 1971, when President Nixon officially declared “war on cancer” (a war that has proven to be almost entirely misguided!), cancer struck only one out of every ten people in the U.S.
Looking back, you can see that the spike in cancer rates started to really become noticeable around the middle of the 20th century. Since then, the rate of increase has continued to rise at an increasingly alarming rate.
What happened by the mid-1900s to account for the rise in cancer rates?
Two things: First, our nation’s food supply shifted away from food production that primarily occurred at the local level to be overtaken by today’s near monopolistic commercial farming methods.
Second, by the mid-1900s the dawn of the “better living by chemistry” society was well underway, bringing with it an ever increasing use of unproven chemical substances that we now know to be highly toxic and carcinogenic, and yet continue to be dumped into our environment at the rate today that is estimated to be over 4 billion tons in the air, land and water supplies of the United States alone!
That is not my estimate. It’s the estimate of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which also states that this dumping of chemicals is being done legally!
These two factors are closely related and also overlap. Today’s commercial farming methods rely heavily on a wide range of potentially harmful chemicals to ensure a profitable supply of food crops, along with poultry, beef, etc. To this end, commercial farmers use an array of pesticides to grow their grains, fruits and vegetables, and now are also using genetically-modified (GM) seeds which have never been studied for their long-term safety. But that’s only the beginning. Once their crops are harvested many other unhealthy chemicals are added to them. In all, more than 3,000 chemicals are used each year to produce and preserve our nation’s food supply, while processed foods contain more than 10,000 chemical solvents, emulsifiers and preservatives!
It’s often said that “You are what you eat.” Based on the above facts, it’s clear that as a nation we are well on our way of becoming a nation of walking carcinogenic time bombs because of all the chemicals we daily ingest with the foods and beverages we consume.
This strikes me as both very sad and very ironic.
It’s ironic because research compiled by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) shows that by eating a varied and healthy diet, along with regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight and limiting alcohol intake we could prevent about 340,000 cases of cancer in United States each year. This is especially true of some of the most common types of cancers. According to the AICR and WCRF, a healthy diet and active lifestyle combined together could reduce the rate of breast cancer by 38 percent, and the rate of stomach and colon cancer by 47 percent and 45 percent, respectively.
Given such statistics, it’s clear that cancer is, at least to some extent, a lifestyle disease, the odds of which increase or decrease according to the choices we make each day, including what we choose to eat and drink. The good news is that, if you are willing to take responsibility for your dietary choices and commit to eating for optimal health, there is much you can do by taking that one step alone to significantly reduce your cancer risk. The key lies in knowing how to do so.
In essence, this all comes down to knowing and following some important dietary “dos and don’ts. I’ll share the dietary “dos” next time. For now, let’s start with the “don’ts”.
Avoid Excess Intake of Animal Protein: While protein is essential for health and many people, due to their genetic makeup and metabolic profile, simply must regularly consume animal protein to stay healthy, as a nation we consume far more animal foods than is necessary. This high intake of animal protein foods is associated with an increased risk of breast, colon, pancreatic, kidney, prostate, and endometrial cancer, as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Excess animal protein consumption results in large amounts of nitrogenous wastes being produced in the intestine, some of which can be converted into highly carcinogenic compounds such as nitrosamines and ammonium salts. Heavy-protein diets can also cause metabolic acids to buildup in the body, forcing the body to call on its calcium reserves in the bones. As calcium is leached from bones it can cause not only osteoporosis, but also increase the risk of bone cancer.
In addition, the cancer risks associated with high animal protein consumption is made far worse by “factory farming” methods that result in cows, chickens, turkeys and lamb being administered a plethora of toxic chemicals include growth hormones and antibiotics in order to accelerate growth rates and increase animal weight for higher yields. Other toxins are now also being included in animal feed lots. For example, we now know that the food fed to the vast majority of factory-raised chickens in the U.S. contains arsenic, a known poison! Factory-raised animals are also fed foods that are not suited to them, such as corn and grains instead of grass, their natural preference. This further increases the unhealthy nature of the animal products derived from them.
How animal protein foods are prepared is another serious factor. Smoked, pickled and salt-cured animal foods, especially meats, also increase cancer rates, as do eating processed animal foods, which are high in a variety of potentially harmful substances.
Finally, animal foods that are broiled, fried, roasted, grilled, or barbecued at high temperatures can produce another cancer-causing agent known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH). PAH has been shown to increase the risk of breast, lung and gastrointestinal cancers.
Avoid Farm-Raised Fish and Fish Higher Up the Food Chain: Because of how polluted our planet has become a variety of toxic chemicals and poisonous heavy metals such as oil, PCPs, hydrocyanic acid, mercury, and nickel have increasingly been deposited into our oceans and other waterways. In the oceans these toxins are absorbed by ocean-borne plankton, where they then travel up the ocean food chain. As they do so, they become concentrated in the tissues of fish. Shellfish, tuna, swordfish, and other large fish are particularly high in such carcinogenic contaminants.
“Farm-raised” fish (fish raised in fish farmeries) are also unsafe as they too are fed corn and other foods that nature did not intend them to eat, and are laced with antibiotics and food dyes to make them appear fresh in your grocery store.
Avoid Excessive Fat Intake: Hit fat intake, especially of animal fats is another key risk factor associated with higher cancer levels, especially breast, colon, rectal, kidney, and prostate cancers. High fat intake has also been shown to be the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers and former smokers.
Avoid Consumption of Unhealthy Oils: In addition to most saturated fats, unhealthy oils include most vegetable oils (olive oil is a notable exception), partially hydrogenated oils, margarine, commercial dressings, and trans-fatty acids, nearly all of which are high in omega-6 fatty acids. Before modern-day farming and food production methods took hold, human consumption of omega-6s was usually no more than two times as high as human consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. Today, however, the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s in most people’s diets is a minimum of 6-1 and often even much greater than that, setting the stage for increased and chronic inflammation in the body, as well as a more conducive inner environment for the promotion of the growth of cancer cells and tumors.
Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Although moderate consumption of beer and wine has been touted for promoting good health, even these low-alcoholic contents drinks can increase cancer risk if consumed regularly. In fact, Charles B. Simone, MD, a leading cancer researcher and physician, as little as two glasses of wine per week can increase the risk of breast cancer by as much as 50 percent! The risk is much higher with other alcoholic beverages. Alcohol can suppress your immune system’s natural killer (NK) cells. NK cells play an essential role in seeking out and eliminating cancer cells before they can spread, and are also very important for helping the body to fight off cancer when it takes hold. Regular alcohol intake is also associated with an increased risk of breast, mouth, throat, pancreatic, and liver cancer, as well as cancer of the head and neck.
Avoid “Junk Foods” (Processed and Preserved Foods, and Foods That Contain Artificial Food Additives): Given the wide range of carcinogenic compounds these foods contain, it goes without saying that you should completely eliminate them from your diet.
Next time I will share the “dietary dos” that can significantly decrease your risk of cancer. Until then,
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