Preventing Breast and Colon Cancer with your Feet

December 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Health

Whatever ‘new’ discovery about cancer prevention comes along (like a daily aspirin), there are certain well-established principles that we need to remember first. Once you have sorted out a healthy diet that you will stick with and reduced environmental and emotional stresses in your life then 10,000 cancers a year could be prevented in the United Kingdom alone if people took several brisk walks a week, according to a report from the World Cancer Research Fund.

“You don’t have to be an athlete to reduce your cancer risk,” said Henry Scowcroft of Cancer Research UK. “There’s solid evidence that certain cancers — including breast and bowel cancer — are less common in people who do regular, moderate exercise such as brisk walking.”

Nor are we talking about marathon effort here as the report found that an average of just 45 minutes of moderate exercise per day could prevent roughly 4,500 cases of bowel cancer in the United Kingdom each year and approximately 5,500 cases of breast cancer. That is more than 10 percent of the current cancer figures so that has to be worth paying attention to.

Walking is something everyone can fit into their life, whether it’s not taking the car down to the local shop for the paper, or getting off the bus a stop early and walking the rest of the way. If walking doesn’t appeal then any moderate exercise that you enjoy will fit the bill so dust off the dancing shoes, set to in the garden, go for a swim and it even includes vigorous housework like vacuuming. Just ten minutes a time, done regularly is better than slogging away for an hour every other week, and surely such a simple change to reduce your cancer risk has got to be worth it.

Exercise is effective for cancer prevention because cancer cells are typically oxygen-deprived, and exercise is a direct way to deliver extra oxygen to cells throughout the body and to improve the immune response. Exercise can also regulate the production of certain hormones that, unregulated, may spur tumour growth.

Get out those walking shoes, and if it’s still too slippy out there put on some music and dance!

Could Mangos Prevent Cancer?

January 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Health


Ever since I learned how to eat a mango – courtesy of Hercule Poirot demonstrating how to take the skin off with a dessert spoon – I have loved their flavour with both sweet and savoury foods. They make a wonderful smoothie and add sweetness to a lamb tagine but now it seems their rich blend of vitamins A and C could help prevent some types of cancer, but are particularly effective for colon cancer.

Food scientists Dr. Susanne and Steve Talcott undertook a study at Texam A&M University on five varieties of mangos that are most common in the USA. Kent, Francine, Ataulfo, Tommy/Atkins and Haden, in case you are interested, and they specifically tested polyphenol extracts from the fruit on colon, breast, lung, leukaemia and prostate cancer cells.

Polyphenols are natural substances in plants that are antioxidants with the potential to protect the body from disease and this research focused on polyphenolic compounds in mangos known as gallotannins, a class of natural bioactive compounds believed to help prevent or block the growth of cancer cells.

The results are encouraging as the mango extract demonstrated some cancer fighting ability when tested on lung, leukaemia and prostate cancer cells, but really were impressive when tested on the most common breast and colon cancers where they were found cause cancer cells to undergo apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

The researchers documented that the division process cancer cells go through was interrupted by mango extract. This is crucial information, for cells that may be on the verge of mutating or being damaged, mango polyphenolics could prevent this and so prevent cancer.

The scientists have conducted additional research on the colon cancer cell lines because mangos contain small molecules that are readily absorbed in the colon as well as larger molecules that are not absorbed and remain present longer in the colon. That could potentially make eating mangos a potent way to help prevent colon cancer.

Time to add mangos to one of your five a day?

Nutrition News for Preventing Breast and Colon Cancer

December 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Health


A couple of updates on new research on a spicy solution that could combat breast cancer and some new dietary strategies to prevent colon cancer. First, researchers at the University of Michigan have come up with a combination of spices to prevent breast cancer, and it was reported in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment last month.

The two magic ingredients are curcumin found in turmeric, that bright yellow spice much used in Indian cooking, plus piperine which is in black pepper. They’ve tested their spicy recipe in the lab on breast cells and found that the combination decreased the number of cancer stem cells that fuel the growth of tumours. The spices interrupted the self-renewal process that is characteristic of the cancer-initiating cells but didn’t harm normal breast cells.

Please note that the amount of curcumin and piperine they used was about 20 times as much as could be consumed through diet and won’t be tested on human volunteers until Spring 2010 in order to find out how high a dose of the spices that humans can safely tolerate. So don’t try huge doses on yourself as the results are not known yet, but an extra grind or two of pepper on your food and a curry a couple of times a week couldn’t hurt if you have a predisposition to breast cancer in your family. If you are looking for recipes I use for herb/spice suggestions and they have a spiced pumpkin and prawn salad that sounds a winner for using turmeric in an unusual way.

Colon Cancer:

Two separate studies have suggested new dietary strategies for preventing colon cancer. An American study has found that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids cut colon cancer risk by nearly 40 percent and the main dietary source for that is found in cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel.

Another study, from Italy, found that a dietary supplement containing selenium reduced the risk of polyps recurring, also by about 40 percent. They looked at 411 individuals from 25-75 years old who had had one or more colorectal polyps removed. Half of this group received a supplement containing 200 micrograms of selenomethionnine (a combination of selenium and methionnine) plus other nutrients. Polyps recurred among only 4.2 percent of those taking the supplement compared to 7.2 percent of the placebo group.

However, although it’s not known whether selenium alone was responsible for the difference or if other nutrients in the supplement played a role, it is a vital nutrient for everyone for good health. It is a trace element found in soil, and is essential for many body processes and is present in nearly every cell but especially in the kidneys, liver, spleen, testes, and pancreas. It acts as an antioxidant against free radicals that damage our DNA and is often included with Vitamins C and E to help fight against cancer, heart disease and even aging. Other benefits of selenium include protection against heart disease, and can help to increase male potency as well as being involved in the maintenance of hair, skin and eyes.

Good Sources of selenium are brazil nuts, poultry, seafood, and meats. Oats and brown rice can also provide significant amounts, but this can depend on the selenium content of the soil in which they have been grown, so go for organic for the highest amounts.

Soy May Be Key in Preventing Colon Cancer

November 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Health, Medical Research & Studies


Colon cancer is the third most deadly form so any preventive measures for those at risk are worth studying.

A new study carried out by the Children’s Hospital & Research Center in Oakland, USA has identified Sphingadienes (SDs), natural lipid molecules, which are found naturally in soy and that can prevent and possibly treat colon cancer. .

Soy has been previously mentioned as protective against colon cancer, but the exact nature of how it did so was not able to be identified until now. It seems that high levels of SDs actually induces the death of mutant cancer cells, in other words it is toxic to them.

Preventative colon cancer strategies often focus on cell death, the normal process the body uses to remove unhealthy or cancerous cells, and so anything that can raise SDS levels will speed this removal process. Soy is a rich source of SDs, and research is under way to see if the active ingredient can be used in drug therapy for cancer.

The natural prevention is to increase the amount of soy products in the diet if you at high risk of colon cancer.

Childrens’ huge cancer risk from processed meats


Processed meats – or rather the sodium nitrate it contains – has previously been linked to cancer of the pancreas and colon, and I have reported on it for you. Now, a study carried out at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, has linked processed meat and a substantially higher risk of leukemia in children. Not a slight chance, but a 74 percent chance of contracting leukemia if the diet regularly includes processed meat like sausages, bacon, salamis, hams and hot dogs. It does not apply to fresh meat.

Sodium nitrate is used to give a more appealing colour to these foods, but it is a chemical which when ingested results in the formation of nitrosamine – a well known carcinogenic. If you buy processed meats for children for their lunchbox or snacks, then check the label to avoid those with sodium nitrate used in the curing or processing and where possible go for organic producers as they are unlikely to use sodium nitrate in their processing.

Alternative Screening for Colon Cancer

November 25, 2007 by  
Filed under Health, Medical Research & Studies, Wellness

A colonoscopy is the normal method of screening for colon cancer, but it is invasive and unpleasant.

Now there is news of an alternative method called computed tomographic colonography (CTC) which has been developed over the past few years. This method is also known as “virtual colonoscopy” because it’s minimally invasive, requiring a catheter to be inserted into the rectum to fill the colon with air, followed by non-invasive optical scan. It may be less invasive, but is it as effective in detecting colon cancer? A study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported this month on US researchers at the University of Wisconsin Medical School who set out to find the answer. They compared similar numbers of patients who had undertaken one or other of the screening methods and found that with traditional colonoscopy screening 123 advanced tumours were found, compared to 121 in the CTC group which is not a significant difference statistically, but vital to the two people whose tumours were detected.

There is a drawback to traditional screening in that perforating the colon during the procedure is a risk, and in fact this occurred on 7 occasions during the study while it is obviously not a risk with CTC.

Another difference is that traditional colonoscopy routinely removes all polyps that are detected, and in fact 2,434 were removed as against only 561 for those having CTC screening. This huge difference is not about whether the polyps are detected, but arose from the fact that patients were given the option of leaving very small polyps in place or undergoing an additional procedure to remove them. It’s certainly true that very small polyps may never become a problem, but with a traditional colonoscopy they are automatically removed before they can develop further. However, in the Wisconsin study 8% of the patients underwent a follow-up colonscopy after undergoing CTC.

On balance the researchers concluded that traditional colonoscopy was still the safest and most effective screening treatment at the moment.