Category Archives: Cancer


17911661-hot-dogPancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the US.  Difficult to detect in its early stages, the frequency of its incidence is increasing.

Susanna Larsson, PhD, of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, and colleagues reviewed studies involving more than 2,000,000 people, 6643 of whom had pancreatic cancer.  They found an across the board link with processed meats—bacon, sausage, ham and lunch meats—and all patients with pancreatic cancer.

But the link between red meat consumption and pancreatic cancer existed only for men, perhaps because men consume larger amounts of red meat than do women.

The study suggests that processed meats likely affect cancer risk because of the compounds, including nitrites, used in curing the meat.  Other studies show that the chemicals induce pancreatic cancer in animals.

The team’s findings support the American Cancer Society’s recommendations to limit red and processed meat intake.

Sources: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter,  August 5, 2013       Study published in British Journal of Cancer, January 31, 2012



images-41.  Swordfish  Swordfish, and all other large, bottom-feeder fish such as tuna, shark, king mackerel and tilefish are loaded with mercury.  Select from these smaller fish:  flounder, catfish, trout, sardines and salmon.

2.  Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese  At $22 a pound, you can find the same flavor for half the price in Pecorino Romano or SarVecchio.

3.  Smoked and Cured Meats  These processed meats are linked to cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and migraines.  Additionally, they’re full of artery-clogging saturated fats.  By law, fresh pork sausage may be up to 50% fat by weight.

4.  “Blueberry items”  Despite the name of products, such as cereals, muffins, granola bars and sauces, nary a real blueberry graces most of them.  Instead, you’ll find just artificial blueberry flavor and coloring.  Buy the real thing and add them to your food for a great source of the antioxidant resveratrol, as much as found in red wines.

5.  Multi-grain Bread  Could be junk food.  Make sure the first ingredient on the label is whole-wheat flour.  Consider skipping the bread and trying cooked barley, brown rice or other whole grains.

6.  Reduced-fat Peanut Butter  When companies reduce the fat in their products, the filler they replace it with is generally sugar, designed to make the product still taste delicious.  Buy regular peanut butter and enjoy the taste of the good fats and proteins without fake sweetness.

7.  Bottled Tea  Bottled teas often have more grams of sugar in them than sweetened soft drinks.  Brew your own tea and save on big bucks and an expanding waistline.

8.  Tomato-based Pasta Sauces  A jar of sauce generally costs $2-$6.  An equal amount of canned tomatoes costs under $1.00; make your own.  Another thought—cover fresh tomatoes with olive oil on a baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes at 425 F before making your own stovetop pasta sauce.

9.  Energy Drinks  Stick to a cup of tea or coffee for your afternoon boost.  Caffeinated energy drinks are often sugar bombs, and the FDA has numerous reports linking 5 Hour Energy and Monster Energy to heart attacks, convulsions and even death.

Coming Up:  9 more foods you should never buy again

SOURCE:  Reader’s Digest Slide Show


14706962-white-bowl-of-mixed-vegetables-about-to-be-eaten-with-spoon-in-handA study published in The British Journal of Nutrition in 2010 showed that persons eating a strict raw food diet had normal amounts of vitamin A and high levels of beta-carotene, but low levels of the antioxidant lycopene.

Lycopene is a red pigment found in tomatoes, watermelon, red bell peppers and papaya.  Recent studies link high intake of lycopene with lowering high cholesterol and a lower risk of heart attacks and cancer of the prostate, breast, colon and lung.

Because lycopene is a fat-soluble carotenoid, you’ll absorb more of it if you cook it and serve it with a healthy monounsaturated fat such as olive or canola oil.

According to a study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry (JAFC), the level of lycopene in tomatoes rose 35% after cooking.

Similarly, Cornell University researchers found that the longer corn was cooked, the more cancer-battling compounds it released.  After 10, 25 and 50 minutes of cooking, the antioxidant content was boosted by 22, 44 and 53% respectively.

Another study published in JAFC reports that cooking carrots increases their level of beta-carotene, another antioxidant substance called carotenoids.  The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, important for vision, reproduction, bone growth and regulating the immune system.

SOURCES:   Dr Andrew Weil’s Tip of the Day, August 2, 2013     Scientific American, March 31, 2009     PSA


16181270-baking-goods-breadWhole grains are a gut’s best friend.

British researchers at Imperial College (IC) in London found a 17% lower risk of colorectal cancer among those who consumed just an extra three daily servings of whole grains.

Nicola McKeown, PhD and director of Tuft’s Friedman School’s Nutritional Epidemiology Program, says, “Previous observational studies have seen improved health outcomes in people consuming, on average three or more servings of whole grains—for instance, reduced cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes risk and some cancers.”

Dagfinn Aune, PhD of IC, and colleagues conducted the largest analysis ever of fiber consumption and colorectal cancer.  They pooled results from 25 prior studies totaling some 2,000,000 participants and found that for each 5 slices of whole-wheat bread, cancer occurrence dropped 10%.

Whole grains contain all essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed.  If the grain has been cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded and/or cooked, the food product delivers the same rich balance of nutrients that are found in its original grain seed.

The Whole Grains Council lists these sources as generally accepted whole grain foods and flours:  Amaranth, Barley, Buckwheat, Corn, including whole cornmeal and popcorn, Millet, Oats, including oatmeal, Quinoa, Rice, both brown and colored, Rye, Sorghum, aka Milo, Teff, Triticale, Wheat, including varieties such as spelt, emmer, faro, einkorn, Kamut, durum and forms such as bulgur, cracked wheat and wheatberries, and Wild rice.

Aune observed, “Although we did not find an association between fiber from fruit and vegetables and colorectal cancer in this analysis, we have previously shown a protective effect for intake of fruit and vegetables.”

“Most people are consuming refined grain foods and missing out on the fiber and nutrients concentrated in whole grains,” says McKeown.  “So, increasing consumption of whole grains into one’s daily diet is important.

“The first step is to replace some of those existing refined grains with whole-grain equivalents—for example, brown rice for white rice, whole-wheat or whole-rye bread for white bread, whole-wheat pasta for regular pasta, and avoid refined grain products high in sugar and fat.”

Sources: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, July 1, 2013     Study published in British Medical Journal


ptg01194716Meat and poultry are sources of high-quality protein and vitamins and minerals, but research shows that animal-protein-centered meals are not healthful.   Numerous studies link meat-centered diets to a higher risk of cancer, particularly breast and colon cancer—especially when the meat is processed into bacon, ham, smoked sausages, etc.

As a general rule, it’s best to shift toward a plant-based diet.  When you do eat meat and poultry, limit the portion to about 3 ounces, the size of a deck of cards.

Strategies for consumers who want to limit the saturated fat content of meat:

For the leanest cuts, buy “round” or “loin” cuts of beef, pork and lamb, cuts such as top round, bottom round, top sirloin, and tenderloin.

Buy USDA “Choice” grade meats, which have less fat and marbling for grilling or roasting.  Buy “Select” grade meats, the leanest grade for stews or to marinate.  “Prime” grade meats have the most marbling, meaning they are the most tender because they are the fattest.  And remember that unlike beef, pork isn’t marbled.  Its fat sits in discreet chunks so you can cut it off before eating.

Buy ground beef that’s at least 90% lean.

Buy ground turkey breast as a substitute for ground beef or pork, but avoid ground turkey—it contains fattier dark meat and skin.

Pay extra for special labels, such as “grass-fed” and “no antibiotics/hormones,” only if the designations have significance for you and if there are regulations to support their integrity.

Sources:  University of CA, Berkeley Special Summer Issue, Wellness Letter, 2013


11022548-x-ray--anatomy-illustration--colon-cancer X-ray of colon cancer

Researchers at the University of Oxford found a link between high-dose aspirin users and a lower colon-cancer risk.  But because long-term, high-dose aspirin usage can have adverse bleeding effects, the team also reviewed five trials involving 16,488 participants taking lower doses.

Nearly 20 years of follow-up showed that people assigned to low-dose aspirin regimens for six years were at one-quarter lower risk of colon cancer.  Moreover, they were one-third less likely to die from the disease.

Longer periods of low-dose aspirin (75 milligram) use produced the same results as larger doses:  a 70% reduced risk of colon cancer as well as lower rates of rectal cancer.

The study is particularly encouraging because the reduction in tumors was limited to the proximal colon, the portion farthest from the rectum.  Researcher Peter M. Rothwell, MD, PhD, and colleagues commented, “The suggestion of a particular effect of aspirin on more aggressive and rapidly growing tumors might allow less frequent screening.”

More significantly, they also observed that “. . . the prevention of proximal colonic cancers by aspirin, which would not be identified by sigmoidoscopy screening and for which colonoscopy screening is only partly effective, is clearly important.”

Sources: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, March 18, 2013        Study published in The Lancet



1.  Decreased prostate cancer  A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrated that men who had 21 or more ejaculations a month were less likely to get prostate cancer than those who’d had 4 to 7 ejaculations per month.

2.  Toned pelvic floor muscles  Sex tones the pelvic muscles that increase a woman’s sexual pleasure.  The same muscles  support the uterus, bladder and bowel, thus protecting against incontinence later in life.

The basic Kegel exercise tones pelvic floor muscles and involves tightening the muscles as if trying to stop the flow of urine, counting to three, then releasing.

3.  Improved sleep  Researchers find that the oxytocin released during orgasm promotes better sleep in addition to better blood pressure readings and a healthy weight.

4.  Regularized periods  Studies at Columbia and Stanford universities found that women having sex at least once a week also have more-regular menstrual cycles than women who had infrequent sex.

5.  Extended sexual life  Marriage therapist Michele Weiner Davis (author of The Sex-starved Wife) observed, “The more you have sex, the more likely you’ll be to continue to produce testosterone, one of the primary hormones responsible for sexual desire.”  (True for both women and men)

6.  Increased happiness  A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that sex makes us happier than does having money.  The number-crunchers quantified the resulting level of happiness as the same as earning $100,000 per year.  (My Take:  And no taxes—what’s not to like?)

7.  Delayed aging  Dr David Weeks, a neurophysiologist at Scotland’s Royal Edinburgh Hospital and author of Secrets of the Superyoung, says, ”An active sex life slows the aging process.”

8.  Induced natural labor  When a woman’s reached term, both her contractions during orgasm and the presence of semen can induce labor naturally.

Semen contains prostaglandins that, when in contact with the cervix, help it dilate and induce natural labor.

Sources:  Discovery News, March 11, 2013       Women’s Health Magazine, July 4, 2011