Monthly Archives: April 2007

An Apple A Day: Really Does Keep the Cancer Doctor Away!

An Apple A Day:  Really Does Keep the Cancer Doctor Away!

Competency #2:  The DASH Diet, # 20, Cuisines of the Long Lived

Reference: American Association of Cancer Research (2007, April 16); Natural News 2007 Oct 24;  American Journal of Epidemiology 2007 166(8):924-931.

The meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research this week has just published three large studies about vegetables and cancer risk.  By large, I mean 490,000 and 183,518 followed for many years.  The findings in all three are complementary and supportive of the core idea of eating more fruits and veggies.  (Grandma was right!)

Dr. Freedman at the National Cancer Institute presented data that show that those who eat 6 servings of F&Vs a day had a 29% reduction in head and neck cancers.  Each serving, at any level of consumption, of extra fruits and vegetables added a 6% extra level of reduction.

Another study from UCLA showed that soy and broccoli (sounds like stir fry) eaten together  make a compound that makes cancer cells less able to migrate and spread.

Finally, a third study from Hawaii showed that those eating the most F&Vs reduced their risk of pancreatic cancer by 29% for non smokers but a whopping 59% for smokers.

A serving is a one half cup.  A large apple is two servings.  An apple a day reduces your risk of cancer by 12%.  All cancers are not the same, but we keep seeing more and more confirmatory studies that one cancer after another succumbs to the evidence of our behavior change.

“But I don’t eat fruit.  I don’t like it!”  How to change behavior?  Here’s what works.  The Evidence:

Think of your favorite fruit or vegetable.  Make a very simple plan.  Make one tiny little change.  Not a big change, just a tiny change.  “I’m going to bring a little baggie of little carrots to work every day to eat as a snack.” Or “I’m buying fresh raspberries to put on my cereal”. I’m going to do it every day this week.  Every day you do it, give yourself a reward for doing it.  (I get to do a Sudoku puzzle, watch my favorite TV show – but make some reward.  Reward yourself every day). After a week, you can look back and find yourself saying, “I just ate an extra serving of “______” every day and made myself much healthier.  That wasn’t hard!  I must not dislike fruit at all”

The social science evidence shows that if you make a tiny change for a week, write it down, do it every day with a REWARD built in, you will CHANGE YOUR BRAIN to believing you can do it. (This has been studied and proven.)  Then, make another tiny change next week and do it again.  Start adding up the changes and be amazed.

WWW:  What will work for me.  I’m into the concept of tiny positive changes.  I’m trying to teach my inner elephant to dance.  So far, we are only up to raising one leg.  But we’re having fun.  I try and count my F&Vs every day.  Yesterday, it was eight servings.  Now I have reason to go for 9.  Training my elephant with positive rewards.  My elephant likes vegetables.  How about yours?

Avoiding Cancer Where the “Sun Don’t Shine” with Vitamin D

Avoiding Cancer Where the “Sun Don’t Shine” with Vitamin D

Competency # 2 The DASH Diet and #17 Vitamin D

Reference: Am J Epidemiol 2007;165:784-793.

The evidence is starting to pile up.  Just this week in the American Journal of Epidemiology we have good solid proof about colon cancer and Vitamin D/calcium.  I’m beating this topic to death because this strategy is so important.  It makes a huge impact for so many of us.  I’ve had two deaths in my immediate family and several dear friends affected by colon cancer, so I have a bad attitude about it.

Here’s what was published.  In Hawaii, of all places (even there, not everyone gets enough sun), the Multiethnic Cohort Study followed 191,011 people for 7 years. Dr. Park used a food frequency method to measure calcium and Vitamin D intake. It was enough to show a 30 % reduction in men and 36% reduction in women from the top group to the bottom group of calcium consumption for colon cancer risk.  And the Vitamin D had about a 28% association for men.  It didn’t reach statistical significance for women.

Dr. Veith was just at St. Luke’s doing Grand Rounds on Vitamin D.  His suggestion, from his own yet unpublished research, was that there is no observed toxicity in Vitamin D with doses up to 32,000 IU a day.  The 400 IU in a Vitamin pill will only raise your blood level of D a few nanograms.

The unifying hypothesis is as follows.  Vitamin D helps your immature cells in your body turn into mature cells.  A cancer cell, in any organ, is an immature cell that multiplies wildly.  If it had the chance to mature into its final intended form, perhaps it would never have turned into cancer.  Vitamin D is that signaling function telling the cell to become a mature cell.   Now, living in Wisconsin, we don’t get any for 5 months, and then we live indoors and cover up our skin the rest of the year.

Finally, our skin ages and loses its ability to make Vitamin D.  By age 70, we only make about 25% of what we did at age 20.  That means we need strategies to make sure we get sufficient D and calcium year around.  And sufficient is more than just 400 IU a day.  Dr. Veith suggested it might even be 5-10,000 IU a day.  He also showed evidence about other cancers and UV light.  Vitamin D is likely associated, inversely with breast cancer, bladder cancer, pancreas cancer…  are you getting the drift?

WWW.  What Will Work for me?  I’m so eager to get my sunshine.  My wheelbarrow is out there in the yard, with snow on it, waiting for spring.  Ten minutes of sunshine, twice a week all summer will give you all you need, if you are under age 75.  Once you get to 65, you likely need 2000 IU a day year around.  It may be a lot more.  And, you also need 3 calcium servings every day.  I’m eating my yogurt, almost every day.  (That’s the DASH diet.)  My GI doctor sent me a note suggesting it’s time again…   It’s either the D or him.