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Article by Belle McCaleb

Cancer – Proof Your Life!

By Belle McCaleb

Cancer is a complex condition with complex causes – many variables coming together in  a particular way lead to cancer.  However, rather than just resigning ourself and saying “everything causes cancer so why bother” it is important to understand that we can limit our exposure to potentially cancer-causing factors and increase our exposure to cancer-preventative factors.  Diet, exercise, stress-management and limiting exposure to environmental carcinogens all have potent preventative potential.  Even our genes can be positively influenced by such lifestyle choices.  No genes can’t be “changed” but they can be encouraged to “switch on” or “switch off” for our best health outcomes, this is the science of epigenetics.

 “Diet doesn’t matter” is well and truly incorrect. More and more scientific data suggests diet does affect cancer risk and its progression once established.  Epidemiologic studies (looking at populations of people) have certainly shown support for certain dietary choices including a high intake of fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains and high omega 3 fats (oily fish, flaxseed).  Likewise research suggests the high intake of some foods increase cancer risk – for example high saturated fat intake (red meat, dairy) is associated with both breast and prostate cancer.  Bowel cancer risk has been shown to be increased not only by processed and charred meats and more recently by fizzy drinks (sugar and non sugar containing).  There is a strong association between smoked meats and smoked fish and gastric cancer. In addition to identifying foods that reduce or increase cancer risk, science is now identifying the particular components of various protective foods and their mechanisms of action.  These  “anti-cancer” components help to stop cancer from being initiated in the first place, progressing and/or spreading and are found in such “super foods” as turmeric, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, flax seeds, strawberries, blue berries, onions, garlic, saffron and the list goes on.  Nature has certainly provided us with a large cancer defense armamentarium if we choose to use it!

Exercise is another anti-cancer approach.  Many studies over the last few years suggest regular exercise is associated not only with lower risk but lowers risk of recurrence, particularly in breast cancer patients.  The mechanism by which daily, brisk walking lowers cancer risk is not yet well elucidated but one would think it includes factors such as increasing oxygenation (cancer hates it), normalising weight (obesity is an independent risk factor), improving mood (walking has been shown to increase happiness) and increasing Vitamin D production (boosts immunity).  Other forms of exercise also show benefit, yoga for example, increases immune function, lowers stress hormones, improves mood, improves sleep and decreases recurrence of breast cancer. 

As a cancer counsellor for 12 years I have observed many of my clients who have or had cancer identify an extremely stressful event or long term high stress and unhappiness preceeding diagnosis. We know that high levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) are associated with decreased immune function. Exercise, as mentioned, is one means of stress management.  Gentle yoga (not Hot Yoga!) and other practices that induce a state of calm such as meditation, mindfulness and Tai Chi have been shown to decrease baseline stress, anxiety and depression in many studies.  In addition it is vital that we minimise our stressors whenever possible to whatever extent is possible. It is not only stressful events or situations that predispose us to illness, including cancer, but more importantly how we respond to them.  If we feel hopeless, helpless and can see no way out it is important to seek counselling or other help to regain our sense of self-empowerment. It is also very useful to see a herbalist as many herbs support the stress-coping mechanisms in the body.  Interestingly many of these same herbs also boost immunity.

And finally decrease your exposure to unhealthy environments.  This includes toxins such as household cleaning products, paints, plastics, herbicides, pesticides, other chemicals and everything artificial food-wise.  Watch your exposure to electronic radiation – limit your time before your computer, on your mobile (use hands free or speaker only), before your TV and in wi-fi.  Be sure you do this for your kids too!  The little ones are getting heavily exposed via ipads, mobiles etc from very young ages!

Consider having a Hair Mineral Analysis done to detect heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic). Particularly if you have a known exposure eg living where there is spraying, old market garden areas, working in the automotive repair industry etc. If you aren’t sure its best to have one done anyway – heavy metals are frequently found with no known history of exposure.

By Belle McCaleb

Belle offers natural medicine care for all members of the family and specialises in women’s health and cancer support.

Her practice including Serenity Yoga is located in St Georges (Burnside area), South Australia.

Appointments are available by telephoning (08) 8379-0220

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21 Dec 2014

Article/Information supplied by Belle McCaleb

Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.