elynjacobs

Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol if You Have Cancer?

In Breast Cancer, Cancer, Uncategorized on March 28, 2017 at 4:15 pm

We all know that chronic, excessive alcohol consumption can dramatically raise one’s risk of cancer and other degenerative diseases. Cancer patients typically make some major lifestyle changes to increase their survival—and often this includes cutting back on (or eliminating) alcohol consumption. For many, this is very difficult, just as smoking and/or sweets are hard for others to eliminate.

But, all too often I find myself wondering if my clients are trying too hard to be healthy. I talk and talk about healthy habits, food choices, vitamins, and nutritional supplements. Eat this, not that, drink this, not that, etc. However, sometimes I feel like I forget to stress hard enough the need to enjoy life.
Healing from cancer can be hard; staying healthy can be even harder, as our motivation wanes. So just to be very clear — eat the cake; drink the wine; go on the trip; buy the dress—wear the dress. Life is too short to put happiness on hold.

While I really do not advise making a daily trip to the bakery, an occasional piece of birthday cake just isn’t going to matter. In fact, it will bring essential joy as you celebrate your or a loved one’s birthday. We know that sugar feeds cancer, but these days, so does everything else, so it seems — so an occasional treat is not all that bad.

As for alcohol consumption, we know that drinking in moderation is good for the heart—and can be good for the soul. Studies show that light to moderate drinkers are more social, which has a positive effect on longevity.

But what about alcohol and cancer?

When alcohol breaks down, it is converted into acetaldehyde, a toxin which damages DNA and hinders the cell mechanisms that would ordinarily repair it. Acetaldehyde also produces harmful free radicals that increase inflammation—cancer’s friend.

wine 3Thankfully, there are ways to help alleviate the potential harm. Therefore, while excessive consumption of alcohol undeniably damages the body, you don’t have to give it up completely. If you enjoy the pleasures of social or moderate drinking, you can help neutralize alcohol’s toxic effects by consuming certain nutrients and phytonutrients.

Further, should your preference be wine, it is good to know that red wine (and to some extent, white) contains some powerful anticancer nutrients, making it actually somewhat protective against cancer!

Therefore, the purpose of this article is to remind you of the perils of drinking alcohol and to educate you on ways to minimize the risks of alcohol consumption so that you can still enjoy it without so much guilt. After all, we know that stress and deprivation are not good for anyone — certainly not someone who has beaten cancer only to end up depressed. A glass or two of red wine now and then can be a very nice social experience and can be quite enjoyable–and healthful–just don’t over-do it.

The Skinny on the Vinnie…

Wine is good for the heart and may actually inhibit the development of certain cancers, including breast cancer. Interestingly, red wine is a good source of folate, biotin, vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, magnesium, and other important anticancer nutrients, so in itself, it is part of the solution.

The resveratrol in red wine has potent antioxidant and anti-cancer effects, suppressing the production of inflammatory cytokines as it protects, and even repairs damaged DNA – healing the injury before it can result in cancerous changes. Resveratrol also provides cardiovascular benefits by reducing LDL cholesterol and decreasing the stickiness of blood platelets.

Some studies have credited resveratrol with blocking the development of cancer at multiple stages – from tumor initiation through promotion and progression. Of course, in my humble opinion, you would have to overindulge to get enough resveratrol to effectively block cancer, and clearly that is not a good idea. Still, it is comforting to know that you will get some benefits from the resveratrol.

The quercetin in red wine also protects DNA in cells because collects around the nucleus of cells offering powerful anti-oxidant protection. It prevents tumor cell growth and has strong anti-inflammatory properties. It also stimulates liver function to detoxify estrogen and other carcinogenic agents, helping to remove them from the body.

Quercetin also binds to excess iron in your body. It removes it from tissues, and prevents its absorption. This process is called chelation. This is critical as iron can be a key ingredient in cancer cell growth. Quercetin has the ability to steal the iron from cancer cells which can stop their growth and induce cell death.

In summary, red wine is loaded with polyphenols, which can do a body good. That said, please limit consumption and be sure to consume adequate helper nutrients, which will be discussed below. Also, while the focus on this article is wine, the nutrients below will help protect you should wine not be your cocktail of choice.
Lastly, given that you would never eat conventional grapes laden with pesticides, please consider organic wines and spirits. Likely too you have seen some of the resent research indicating that organic wines from California are laced with pesticides. While this is true, this is also true of most organic crops from California and Mexico. Local organic is better, and wine from small vineyards that do not require pesticide use and which are irrigated with clean water are also a good option.

Anti-Alcohol Substances:
In general, protective components are carotene (think carrots), folate (B9), niacin (B3), vitamins B6, B1, C, D, E, and a few others in smaller amounts. A diet that includes foods rich in the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene can promote a healthy inflammatory response in the body. In addition, lycopene, ursolic acid, lutein, and other phytochemicals in plant foods can provide protection. Herbs and spices including turmeric and ginger are also known to have anti-inflammatory properties.

I also recommend eating Brazil nuts or taking supplemental selenium as selenium levels tend to be reduced in people who drink alcohol regularly. Importantly, a deficiency of selenium can significantly increase your risk for cancer. Having a high-fiber snack with your cocktail is also a good idea.

Highlighting B Vitamins:

Acetaldehyde depletes cells of vitamin B-6 – a nutrient needed to prevent dangerous oxidation. Again, the body converts alcohol into DNA-destroying acetaldehyde, a carcinogen in the same family as formaldehyde. Acetaldehyde also interferes with the actions of folic acid and can lead to folate deficiency in heavy drinkers. Folate deficiency can impair the body’s ability to suppress cancer genes called proto-oncogenes.

A note on folic acid—research indicates that women who drink alcohol in moderation and have a high folate intake may not be at any higher risk of some breast cancers than those who abstain from alcohol. But when it comes to folic acid, go for the real thing– you can find it in abundance in citrus fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans, and peas, and yes, red wine—all in the form of natural folate, which is much safer than synthetic folic acid (please don’t depend on the folate in wine…you need much more). If you take a supplement, be sure it is folate, not folic acid.

Acetaldehyde also robs the cells of Vitamin B-1, or thiamine. Experts say it is often thiamine deficiency – rather than the toxic metabolites of alcohol – that causes the brain degeneration associated with alcoholics.

Vitamin C is key in preventing oxidative damage caused by alcohol:

Alcohol depletes vitamin C, a vitamin that helps defend the body from alcohol damage. This potent antioxidant protects brain cells against the toxic effects of alcohol, and helps control brain levels of pro-inflammatory substances which are increased by alcohol and its toxic metabolites. Vitamin C also helps to regenerate vitamin E, which helps protect the brain and liver from the aging process. Therefore, supplemental C can be very helpful.

Antioxidants are called free radical scavengers because they neutralize free radicals in the body. An antioxidant such a vitamin C can donate electrons to the free radical, thus stopping the free radical from stealing another electron. To explain, antioxidants prevent oxidation damage by donating electrons to replace those lost to oxidation. This process of providing electrons is the reverse of oxidation and is called reduction. Our tissues maintain a controlled balance of reduction and oxidation, known as the ‘redox state’. Cells produce antioxidants and antioxidant electrons continuously in order to prevent oxidation damage.

Glutathione

Acetaldehyde from alcohol also depletes necessary glutathione, causing dramatic reductions in the body’s natural defense systems. Glutathione is the body’s ‘master antioxidant’. It binds to toxins and promotes their excretion via the bile and urine. N-acetylcysteine, or NAC, binds acetaldehyde, neutralizing its damaging effects, and replenishes glutathione levels in tissues.

NAC is also used for preventing alcohol- related liver damage and to combat toxicity from Tylenol use. It does this so effectively that it is used in conventional medicine – along with vitamin C – to treat acetaminophen overdoses.

NAC is most helpful when taken immediately before alcohol ingestion – but it can also be used after indulging as well.

Love your liver…

Alcohol is tough on the liver, and you depend on your liver to remove toxins from the body. Green tea and silymarin (milk thistle) prevent damage to the liver by acting as an antioxidant and enhancing the detoxification process. Grape seed extract and barley grasses are also helpful.

Milk thistle, in particular, is a natural remedy for liver regeneration that is backed by considerable modern research. Long used by natural healers to support liver health and function, milk thistle helps promote the elimination of toxins –including those related to alcohol consumption. Studies have shown that milk thistle’s active constituent, silymarin, can enhance the immune system, fight inflammation, protect DNA, and help to alleviate alcohol-induced liver disease.

In cell studies, silymarin has been found to inhibit the conversion of ethanol to acetaldehyde, reduces liver cancer cell proliferation, stops the growth of blood vessels that nourish tumors, and promotes the regeneration of normal liver cells.

How much is too much? Most experts would say 1-2 drinks daily is okay. Don’t think because you abstain all week that you can have seven glasses of wine on Saturday night. Also, remember that the body needs time to metabolize each drink, so allow some time between that first and second cocktail. A good rule of thumb for alcohol consumption might be to avoid amounts that produce a hangover – for which acetaldehydes are primarily to blame.

Enjoy your wine if it brings you pleasure, but limit consumption and load up on the protective nutrients that may eliminate or reduce risk of cancers associated with drinking alcohol. Again, and this is very important– while there are clearly health benefits to drinking alcohol, moderation is imperative. The following is a great article that defines the pros and cons, especially the discussion on ethanol and methanol: Moderate Drinkers Live Longer than Non-Drinkers, Study Finds.

It is not my recommendation for you to use this information as a justification to start or continue drinking alcohol. There are many non-alcoholic sources of the anticancer nutrients mentioned above. Of course, it is good to know that there are certain nutrients and supplements that can help neutralize the damaging effects of alcohol should you choose to imbibe. My goal is simply to suggest that you not sweat everything, and that you spend time living, not just avoiding death.

Cheers!
Elyn

~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor and holistic cancer strategist who helps people make better, healthier, non-toxic choices. She emphasizes the critical nature of addressing the root cause of cancer and not just its presenting symptoms (such as the tumor). Elyn specializes in understanding the role of estrogen in breast cancer and debunks the myths associated. She is a Contributing Editor for The Truth About Cancer and was creator and host of the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. Elyn is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn was the Executive Director of the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Contact Elyn via her website. Elyn offers consults via Skype, phone or in person.

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Yes, You Can Give Up Gluten and Have Your Pizza Too!

In Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer, Anticancer foods, foods for colon cancer, foods for breast cancer, Breast Cancer, Uncategorized on March 14, 2017 at 9:20 am

These days, it seems the vast majority of Americans have some sort of intolerance to gluten, whether or not they have any obvious symptoms.  But you have cancer, I strongly suggest you consider giving it up.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and other grains. While it has long been a mainstay in American diets, it could spell trouble for you if you have cancer or an otherwise compromised immune system.  In fact, it could be problematic even if you don’t, as it has been found to significantly hinder the availability of nutrients from food.

Plus, often it isn’t actually the gluten itself that is the problem. There are other compounds in wheat as well that provide fuel for pathogens such as viruses and bacteria, which in turn gives rise to all sorts of symptoms. For example, grains often bear the blame for chronic inflammation.  However, often it is not the grain itself that is the problem, but rather the mycotoxins (toxic substances produced by fungi that can infect grain crops) on the grains that is the problem, especially if you have an autoimmune disorder.  What is really happening is that people with autoimmune disorders have viruses and or other pathogens in their bodies, and those bugs feed on the mycotoxins, in the process creating neurotoxins that cause inflammation.

Of course, if you know that you’re free of pathogens, then it might be fine to eat wheat — but I would not take the chance if you have cancer or an autoimmune disorder.

Besides, most wheat is now GMO, and even when not, it is important to know that wheat fields in the United States are sprayed with Roundup a few days before harvesting in order to maximize the harvest.

You don’t have to give up good food….

pizza with mustard greens and arugulaAs a native New Yorker, I love pizza.  But having gone gluten-free a few years ago, I had to give it up, or so I thought. For months, I considered some of the gluten-free crusts I read about in cooking and health magazines.  None seems to replicate my beloved pizza, but then again, I was too stubborn to give them a try. If you read my article Food Fatigue, you will see that I finally took the plunge and actually found a recipe that worked for me.  (Note: Miss you lots Tami, so grateful we had that evening together).

There are a lot of gluten-free pizza recipes out there, but I am sharing some of my favorites. (For more recipes and healthy reasons to enjoy pizza, visit the link above).

Awesome Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

1 generous cup riced or grated cauliflower

1 pastured organic egg

Generous pinch of Celtic sea salt (about ¼ tsp)

Flaxseed: freshly ground and up to 4 Tbsp

Dried oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary*

pinch cayenne, if desired

1 cup tapioca or garbanzo bean flour

¼ cup olive oil

Reserved cooking water

Toppings of choice

Recipe:Pizza slice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Cauliflower rice: you will need about one cup

In a small covered saucepan, steam the cauliflower over low heat in a very small amount of water (less than ¼ cup).

Drain, reserving about 1-2 Tbsp water. Spoon cauliflower onto a clean dishtowel and press out the remaining water. (While recommended, you can skip this step,  but be sure to drain completely)

Mix the egg with the cauliflower, salt, and ground flax. Add 1 Tbsp each dried basil, oregano, and thyme. Grind between fingers a tsp of dried rosemary. (While fresh is an option for the herbs, dried works best in order to keep the crust flaky and crisp). Add the tapioca flour, mixing it until thoroughly incorporated.  Add the olive oil and 1 Tbsp of the reserved water (save the rest in case you need it).  Mix just a bit with a spoon, then mix by hand to create a dough; shape into a ball.  The dough can be made ahead of time to be used in up to two days.

Place the dough directly onto a floured pizza stone or on a piece of parchment paper or in-between two pieces of parchment paper.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out either into a circle or rectangle, to the thickness of ¼”.  You can do this directly on the stone or on the paper—if directly on the stone, rub some extra flour onto the rolling pin to prevent sticking.  If using parchment on both sides, peel off one side and turn onto stone.  Peel off remaining piece of paper.

Bake 10 minutes; remove from oven and place on stove-top.

Top with your choice of sauce, cheese, vegetables, and fresh herbs. Bake until cheese is bubbling and the crust is lightly brown.

(If you wish, you can chop small kale leaves or baby greens such as micro mustard greens and toss them with a bit of olive oil or melted ghee (which can handle high heat). Add this on top of the sauce, as I did this time, before the cheese.)

Remove from the oven and let sit a few minutes.  Top with broccoli or watercress sprouts and/or baby arugula.  Cut into eights with a pizza cutter or knife.  Enjoy!

*I use 1 Tbsp each dried oregano and basil, and 1 tsp each dried thyme and rosemary, crumbled.

If you prefer a lighter crust, you can omit the flaxseed, but if you have breast cancer or are looking to avoid it, it might be best to include it. For more information on this, please click HERE and HERE. You may also prefer to swap the tapioca flour with garbanzo bean flour as while gluten-free, tapioca flour (starch) can still raise glucose levels.

You can also make pizza without any flour at all:

 Cauliflower Minis:

Mix together the following:

1 head cauliflower, riced

2 large eggs

¼ cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese

1/3 cup tapioca flour (or substitute grated mozzarella cheese)

3 Tbsp fine chopped basil or 1 Tbsp dried

1 Tbsp dried oregano

Dash cayenne pepper

Generous pinch coarse Celtic sea salt

¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

Top minis with:

Marinara sauce

Cheese (raw cow or goat cheese is fine; no commercial cheese or soy cheeses; soy cheese is a highly processed, toxic ‘non-food’ and should be avoided.)

Other toppings of choice, chopped small

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add egg, cheese, flour, spices, salt and peppers.

Drop by large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake until golden, 20 min.

Top each ‘pizza’ with a thin layer of sauce, mozzarella or other cheese and bake until cheese melts, about 5 or 6 minutes.

Garnish with additional chopped basil, chopped broccoli or watercress sprouts, or crushed red pepper flakes

Enjoy!

For more Pizza recipes, please click HERE:

Elyn

~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor and holistic cancer strategist who helps people make better, healthier, non-toxic choices. She emphasizes the critical nature of addressing the root cause of cancer and not just its presenting symptoms (such as the tumor). Elyn specializes in understanding the role of estrogen in breast cancer and debunks the myths associated. She is a Contributing Editor for The Truth About Cancer and was creator and host of the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. Elyn is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn was the former Executive Director of the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Contact Elyn via her website. Elyn offers consults via Skype, phone or in person.

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Broccoli and Watercress Sprouts Fight Cancer

In Anticancer foods, foods for colon cancer, foods for breast cancer, Cancer, Uncategorized on February 27, 2017 at 9:43 am

It is well known that cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and watercress contain powerful anticancer compounds. But did you know that eating their respective sprouts can supercharge the health benefits? In sprout form these little three to four day old plants contain almost 100 times the level of cancer-fighting sulforaphane than the mature plants. The phytonutrients in these sprouts upregulate antioxidant enzymes and detoxification processes which clear toxic compounds from the body. And, that is just the beginning—read on to find out how sprouts knock the socks off cancer.

 What’s in a Sprout

Isothiocyanates (ITCs), such as sulforaphane, are sulfur-containing compounds found in cruciferous vegetables. They support matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) activity which reduces the breakdown of connective tissue within a cell that impede the expansion of existing tumors. Matrix MMP-9 plays important roles in tumor invasion and angiogenesis. Secretion of MMP-9 has been reported in various cancer types including lung, colon, and breast cancer.

ITCs also kill off cancer cells, including cancer stem cells, which is essential for combating cancer metastases. Isothiocyanates restrain certain pro-inflammatory compounds that are associated with chronic inflammation and cancer.

The ITC sulforaphane helps support the anti-inflammatory Nrf2 pathway which protects cells against oxidative and free radical activity. It supports the detoxification process by inducing Phase 2 detoxification enzymes, inhibiting the activation of pro-carcinogens, and  by boosting cellular glutathione levels.  Sulforaphane promotes cancer cell death and inhibits cancer cell proliferation. It also supports the immune system and in particular, increases Natural Killer Cell activity.

Sulforaphane also inhibits Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that increases one’s risk of stomach and colorectal cancer.  It is also anti-viral and has been found effective against the Epstein Barr Virus.

Quercetin, another potent antioxidant highly concentrated in sprouts, is a strong anti-inflammatory and prevents tumor cell growth.  It also aids in the removal of excess estrogen from the body — it stimulates liver function to detoxify estrogen and other carcinogenic agents.

Lutein is another powerful antioxidant that neutralizes cancer-causing free radicals (it is also essential for many things, including eye health, protecting against macular degeneration, and for maintaining strong eye tissue). Lutein (and zeaxanthin) may be beneficial to cardio health by preventing hardening of the arteries.

Glutathione has been labeled the ‘mother of all antioxidants” due to its incredible ability to disarm free radicals, detoxify the body, and boost the immune system.

Broccoli Sprouts

broccoli-sproutsBroccoli sprouts are extremely high in cancer fighting activity, particularly against lung, colon, and breast cancers. Compounds in broccoli speed up the removal of estrogen from the body, helping to suppress breast cancer. They also target cancer stem cells, the cells responsible for metastasis.

Broccoli sprouts contain a high amount of the cancer-busting and immune boosting substance sulforaphane. They are also abundant in quercetin, glutathione, beta carotene, indoles, vitamin C, lutein, glucarate, and the metabolic substance DIM, which is a natural aromatase inhibitor.

Broccoli sprouts are rich in cholesterol reducing fiber and have anti-viral and anti-ulcer activity. They are also a super source of chromium that helps regulate insulin and blood sugar.

 

Watercress Sproutswatercress-sprouts

Sometimes called peppergrass, watercress is delicious and pungent. It is also one of the most nutrient-dense foods known. It is rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoids, including lutein. Watercress also offers significant quercetin, EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate), flavanols such a kaempferol, lycopene, idole-3 carbinol (13C), sulforaphane, as well as DIM. It is a good source of riboflavin, vitamin C, A and K, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, and contains trace amounts of omega 3’s. Watercress is one of the best food sources of iodine for vegans.

Watercress also contains a high amount of PEITC (phenylethylisothiocyanate) which has been shown to protect DNA from damage. PEITC reduces the growth of breast cancer cells, triggers apoptosis (cancer cell death), and decreases angiogenesis. It inhibits the growth of HER2 expression as well as cancer metastasis.

PEITC (also found in some other cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli) deactivates mutant p53 in tumor cells but leaves normal p53 alone. P53 regulates cell division by keeping cells from growing and dividing too fast or in an uncontrolled way. A mutation in p53 is a permanent change in the nucleotide sequence of DNA. Loss of p53 function can be deleterious, and about 50% of all human cancers have a mutated p53 gene.

Watercress has antioxidant, antigenotoxic (the process by which chemical agents damage genetic information within a cell causing mutations), and anti-inflammatory properties.

Studies show that a regular intake of watercress has been associated with protection against breast, colon, and other cancers.

Watercress and broccoli affect all stages of cancer: initiation, proliferation, and metastasis. So, what’s not to love about these sprouts? Plus, it is a lot easier to consume a handful of sprouts than it is to down a pound and a half of broccoli or an enormous plate of watercress– which, for example,  is the amount it would take to get an equivalent amount of sulforaphane.

Add sprouts to your smoothies; use on sandwiches, on top of pizza, in salads, and as a garnish for soups. I make wonderful gluten-free pizza crusts using cauliflower or garbanzo bean flour, and pile the pizza high with arugula and sprouts just before serving.  Yum!

Just a reminder that while  eating cruciferous vegetables is a important for optimal health, it is necessary to have sufficient iodine in the diet when consuming high quantities  (including DIM).

Can’t find sprouts locally?  Grow your own–Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening: How to Grow Nutrient-Dense, Soil-Sprouted Greens in Less Than 10 days

Found this article helpful? Please let the elves know:

Thanks!

Elyn

~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor and holistic cancer strategist who helps people make better, healthier, non-toxic choices. She emphasizes the critical nature of addressing the root cause of cancer and not just its presenting symptoms (such as the tumor). Elyn specializes in understanding the role of estrogen in breast cancer and debunks the myths associated. She is a Contributing Editor for The Truth About Cancer and was creator and host of the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. Elyn is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn was the former Executive Director of the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Contact Elyn via her website. Elyn offers consults via Skype, phone or in person.

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