Is cancer preventable? I think it is, with the right approach, as I describe below. If you take these steps, you will strengthen your immune system and help prevent not only cancer, but also many other chronic diseases and conditions.
Most cancers are not genetic in origin, but rather are due to lifestyle imbalances, which you can do something about. DNA mutations that occur in some cancers can have a hereditary source of origin, but how we live determines how these genes express themselves, and whether you will accumulate mutated DNA in specific organs and cells that can lead to cancer. This is what is called "epigenetics."
What you want to focus on, assuming you do not have a diagnosis of a cancer, is "How can I prevent it?" I see many patients with early or advanced cancers who tell me that they have been eating well and taking care of themselves their whole lives, so "Why do I have cancer?"
It may seem obvious, but these are the areas to focus on as part of your cancer prevention lifestyle:
- Eat right: This means an anti-inflammatory diet, and there are many good books on this. Michael Pollan, a well-respected author on food, has advised people to eat "real food," and avoid what he calls "edible food-like substances," which is what most people today eat, and which is what you can often buy in many local stop-and-go stores.
- Exercise, which contributes to healthier brains as well as healthier immune function and bones.
- Have a good detoxification plan in place, either by using a far- infrared sauna, and/or homeopathic treatment. The buildup of chemical, heavy metal, and infectious toxins can lead to DNA mutations and thus to cancer.
- Lower your stress levels: through mindfulness, therapy, prayer, yoga, or meditation.
- Sleep well. If you need help, look into sleep promoting supplements like L-tryptophan or melatonin, or herbal relaxant herbal combinations. Also, turn the TV off before 8 PM and relax and prepare for sleep.
- Lower your exposure to hormone disruptive chemicals like BPA, which is in many water bottles and canned food. These chemicals often disrupt estrogen metabolism, and this can lead to hormonal as well as other types of cancers.
Supplements that are helpful in preventing cancer, and why:
- Curcumin and turmeric, which both lower the inflammation that underlie many cancers.
- Melatonin or L-tryptophan, to improve sleep.
- Products with DIM, I3C, and broccoli sprouts, that help with liver and estrogen metabolism.
- A good product with B6, methylcobalamin, and folate, all three of which improve your body's capacity to detoxify through a process called methylation, which protects our DNA from mutation due to the lifelong accumulation of environmental toxins and can fix genes in the "off" position so they do not mutate and lead to cell function disruption.
- Selenium as sodium selenite, which enhances safe detoxification of heavy metals and also helps our bodies make more glutathione
- Iodine in a low dose. Most people are iodine deficient, and a low dose is likely safe. But make sure to have your thyroid gland function tested, and discuss with your physician.
- A good heavy metal chelator daily, like cilantro or some form of quality seaweed preparation. You might want to have yourself tested for heavy metal accumulation (like cadmium, lead, arsenic, and mercury, which are the most common today) by a practitioner trained to do this testing.
- Vitamin D3: It is generally safe to take 5,000 IU's per day. Almost everyone today is deficient in Vitamin D.
- Zinc, at least 30 mg per day. Zinc helps us to counter the excessive buildup that most people have of copper, which can lead to more inflammation and leads to estrogens going down the wrong biochemical pathway in our bodies.
- Magnesium: most people with a cancer diagnosis are magnesium and zinc deficient on lab tests.
- Omega 3 fats: to keep inflammation low.
- N-acetyl cysteine (NAC): This is a supplement (along with selenium) that helps our livers make more glutathione, a body-made antioxidant.
- Many many good herbs, like resveretrol, and adaptogenic herbs like many forms of ginseng, that help normalize our entire neuroendocrine system and help it adapt to change. It is my understanding and experience that these herbs are best used in combination, as they work synergistically. There are many good brands that combine these adaptogenic herbs.
- Anti-depressant and anti-anxiety herbs like St. Johns wort, or herbs that relax and calm our nervous systems. Depression and anxiety are rampant today, and either of these can lead to immune system suppression. I often will add one of these herbal preparations to a foundational oral program for people with a cancer diagnosis.
There are high-quality brands of supplements that combine a number of these products into their capsules. Remember, with nutritional supplements, source is everything, meaning it's important to get a respected brand that uses high-quality herbs and nutrients.
Hippocrates said, "Let food be your medicine." This probably worked well one hundred years ago, but today it is likely not enough. Now our food supply is often deficient in the aforementioned nutrients, unless you are eating organic, and even then, taking some of these supplements on a daily basis is often helpful. Also, we live in a very toxic world today, and often need these nutrients in addition to a good diet in order to better detoxify many cancer-contributing toxins.
Best of health in the upcoming year to you and your loved ones.