Contributed by Debbie Jeffery, RD
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has 8 recommendations for cancer prevention:
- Be as lean as possible without being underweight. Having a healthy weight is one of the most significant things you can do to reduce your cancer risk. Carrying excess fat around our waists releases estrogen into the blood stream and increases the levels of other hormones as well. This is strongly linked to colon cancer and probably to cancers of the pancreas and breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
- Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day. Regular exercise helps keep hormone levels in a healthy range which is important because high levels of certain hormones can increase cancer risk. Physical activity may also help to strengthen the immune system.
- Avoid sugary drinks and limit consumption of energy dense food to prevent excess weight gain.
- Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans. These foods are packed with vitamins, mineral, phytochemicals and fiber which help to protect cells in the body from damage that can lead to cancer.
- Limit consumption of red meat and avoid processed meat. To reduce cancer risk, limit red meat consumption to no more than 18 ounces cooked weight per week.
- If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day.
- Limit consumption of salty food and foods processed with salt. Studies have shown that a high salt intake can damage the lining of the stomach and probably increases the risk of developing stomach cancer.
- Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer. In general, the best source of nutrients is food, not diet supplements.
To read more, go to the AICR website, www.aicr.org/reduce-your-cancer-risk/
by Debbie Jeffery, RD
For many, the return to school means packing lunches. A staple of the packed lunch is generally a cold cut sandwich to provide protein and satiety. However, guidelines from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) indicate that it’s time to provide other alternatives. One of the 10 recommendations for cancer prevention from the AICR and World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) is to limit consumption of red meats and to avoid processed meats. Processed meat is defined as meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or addition of chemical preservatives. Therefore, ham, bacon, sausage, hot dogs and, yes, deli meats are all considered processed meats. The most recent analysis of global research concluded that eating even small amounts of deli meats or other processed meats on a regular basis increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Studies show that compared to eating no processed meat, eating just 3.5 ounces every day increase colorectal cancer risk by 36% which is why the AICR recommends avoiding these foods except for special occasions.
Why processed meats increase the risk for cancer is not clearly understood. Researchers are exploring some possibilities which include the addition of nitrates/nitrites, smoking and cooking at high temperatures. All of these processes result in the formation of carcinogens. Nitrate/nitrite-free deli meats are relatively new products that are available. However, more research is needed to determine if these products eliminate the cancer risk. Sausage and other processed meats made from turkey or chicken is still smoked, salted or cured and should be carefully limited.
The occasional hot dog at the ballpark or ham at a holiday dinner is unlikely to increase your health risk. Some suggestions to decrease your overall risk are: replace deli meats with fresh chicken or fish; instead of bacon, chorizo or salami, try spicy vegetarian sausages; replace sausage in chili and sauces with beans; and try different sources of protein like eggs, cottage cheese, beans and hummus.
For more information refer to the AICR website at www.aicr.org
Exercise makes you feel and look great. It releases endorphins and dopamine which give you a sense of accomplishment and reward when it is over. So why is it so hard to take that first step and get moving? Your head has a lot to do with that. When you don’t work out and your body is used to saving energy and resisting fat loss, your brain will also believe that exercise is not needed and you cannot fully involve yourself in the activity.
If it is easy to subconsciously allow your body and brain to think that way, it is just as easy to reverse those thoughts. Cues throughout your day such as your sneakers, gym bag or even a short walk at lunch can help remind you that your workout is waiting.
Another great way to start and stay motivated is having to be held accountable. Checking in or logging your workouts to a website, diary or blog will give you motivation as well as reminders when you do or do not workout. Exercising with a partner who is at your same fitness level will help you set realistic goals, maintain motivation and give a little competition.
Changing up your workout is always beneficial to beating boredom but doing something like high intensity interval training will also give you a quick blast of energy and feel good hormones while being done in a shorter amount of time. A workout like this may include sprints or hills to help spike the heart rate, and then give you a natural recovery.
Once you become acquainted with the gym and your exercise habits, teach someone else a few moves, skills or workouts. This will help to push you harder while also allowing you to feel proud and accomplished with your hard work!
We all struggle to find the time to exercise. Life is busier now than it has ever been and with this strain on time one of the first things to go is exercise. But what if I told you that it doesn’t always have to be a minimum of 30 minutes, or even 15 minutes. What if an effective exercise session could be as little as 5 minutes? Certainly, we could all find 5 minutes somewhere in our busy day. Even those of you who say that you already wake up to early and adding more time to your day is not possible. Well it’s time to put the excuses away and get down to business.
A new study published in the The Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that as little as 5 minutes a day of running lowers an individuals mortality rate. This held true regardless of the actual running pace that was achieved, although those individuals running at an increased speed seemed to increase the effectiveness of the exercise.
While further research is still needed to see if this holds true for other forms of exercise, the study indicates that running had better mortality benefits versus moderate activities such as walking. Time to put down the excuses, lace up the shoes, and hit the road…at least for 5 minutes.
Perfect for a summer day, this salad combines vitamin A-rich carrots with tasty avocado; a perfect combination according to a recent study (see PLC’s previous blog post for details)
1 lb carrots
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 firm-ripe avocado
- Halve carrots lengthwise, then cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces. Cook carrots in boiling water until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain in a colander and transfer to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Let stand 5 minutes, then drain again and pat dry.
- While carrots cool, whisk together cilantro, onion, oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
- Quarter avocado lengthwise, then peel and pit. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces and add to dressing along with carrots. Toss to combine and serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Nutrition Facts: 190 caloires, 14g fat (2g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 80mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 6g sugar, 2g protein
A study conducted by The Ohio State University (published in the June 2014 edition of The Journal of Nutrition) found that combining certain foods with avocado can enhance the absorption of certain nutrients. This research investigated if fresh avocado, when eaten with either an orange-colored, high beta-carotene tomato sauce or raw carrots, would promote the absorption of provitamin A carotenoids and the conversion of these carotenoids to an active form of vitamin A. The researchers found that when avocado is eaten with raw carrots or orange-colored tomato sauce, the absorption of vitamin A was in fact increased. Vitamin A helps to support skin health, immune function and vision. Specifically, the study found that:
- Eating avocado with tomatoes or carrots significantly increased absorption of beta-carotene 2.4 times and 6.6 times respectively compared to eating tomatoes or carrots without avocado.
- Eating avocado with carrots more than quadrupled the absorption of alpha-carotene when compared to eating carrots without avocado.
- Eating avocado with tomatoes or carrots significantly increased the conversion of provitamin A, the inactive form to vitamin A , the active form more than eating tomatoes or carrots without avocado.
You can read more about this research here.
By John A. Rumberger, PhD, MD, FACC
A recent publication [June 2014] in the British Journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology has reported that the presence of several specific gene mutations associated with a reduced metabolic synthesis of plasma vitamin D showed a causal relationship between low levels of vitamin D and high blood pressure [hypertension].
For every 10% increase in the blood concentration of vitamin D there was a small but real associated decrease in resting blood pressures and also 8% decrease in the odds of developing high blood pressure in the future. However as with all ‘observational’ investigations, a formal large study including use of vitamin D supplementation will need to be performed but is it possible that vitamin D supplementation may be effective in combating some cases of hypertension.
Another study recently published in February 2014 also noted increasing BMI [body mass index] as a causal factor in vitamin D deficiency. Increasing BMI is associated with obesity and at least ‘central’ obesity is associated with what is called a ‘metabolic syndrome’ commonly associated with abnormalities in cholesterol, high blood pressure, and abnormal blood sugar control. The later condition is commonly related to an ‘insulin resistance syndrome’ [pre-diabetes] and apparently low vitamin D levels contribute to the process.
We correctly avoid over exposure to the sun and freely use high SPF skin products; but this then reduces the amount of vitamin D produced in our sun exposed skin. Unfortunately, dietary sources of vitamin D [commonly ‘fortified’ in cereal, milk, orange juice, etc.] are poor and thus vitamin D deficiency is more common in the US than in the past. Vitamin D deficiency is a well-established factor in abnormal bone densities but it has also been suggested as a ‘modifiable’ risk factor for a variety of diseases including breast cancer, colon cancer, and even multiple-sclerosis.
Both hypertension and visceral obesity are important ‘risk factors’ in the development of heart disease.
Dr. John A. Rumberger comments: These two studies re-enforce my own experience in linking lowered bone densities and vitamin D deficiency with the increased incidence of coronary artery calcification and heart plaque formation.