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Posts Tagged ‘Nutrition and Cancer’

What Everyone Should Know About Beating Cancer

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm

The following is a guest post I wrote for the Inspired Wellness Center Blog:

What Everyone Should Know About Beating Cancer 

Disease (is) not an entity but a fluctuating condition of the patient’s body, a battle between the substance of disease and the natural self-healing tendency of the body.        Hippocrates 

 Our very survival depends on how we manage our cancer.  Cancer is a multifactorial disease.  Every person and every cancer is unique.  Genetic, environmental, nutritional and psychological factors all play a role in the development of cancer, and the toxic soup-mix   is different for each individual. We all generate errant or mutated cancer cells in our bodies every day, yet only some individuals will go on to develop the disease.  Normally our immune systems destroy these errant cells, yet sometimes the system fails: the development of cancer is an indication that the body lacks the support necessary to destroy cancer cells. The key is to discover and repair what is not functioning by empowering yourself to make changes that support your body’s ability to resist the cancer process. Therefore, to comprehensively treat our cancer, we must attack from all sides; we must dissect our soup.  If we don’t uncover and correct the environment in which cancer was permitted to grow, our chances for recurrence or new cancers are greatly increased. 

 

Conventional medicine targets the cancer that we detect right now: surgery to remove the tumor and therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation to target errant cells left behind.  What about the new cells that proliferate?  Conventional treatments alone are not winning the war on cancer.  We, as patients, must play an active role in restoring and maintaining health.  The key to survival is often changing the environment in which cancer was able to develop.  If we focus on the underlying conditions that may have contributed to the disease, we can likely prevent recurrence or reverse the course of the disease.  After all, it is not the primary tumor that kills us, but rather the progression of the disease.  Emotional patterns and dietary choices may neither be the cause or cure for every cancer, but any path taken, be it allopathic, integrative or alternative, will be more successful long-term if the mind and body are addressed.

There is a strong correlation between emotional patterns and the development and progression of cancer. The power of repressed emotions, anger, and resentment as well as a lack of self love is not to be overlooked in the creating and healing of our cancers. Emotional challenges can develop into physical ones; that is, an emotion not expressed in words or actions finds expression in physical ailments.  Physical symptoms are often related to past repressed traumatic experiences, and toxic defense mechanisms are often developed in childhood to survive life’s inevitable traumas.

Our physical health is compromised when we chronically repress our needs and feelings to accommodate others.  This coping style weakens our immune defenses and leaves us more vulnerable to cancer progression.

Stress per se is not a critical factor in illness; it’s how we respond to it that matters. The key is to express it appropriately and then let it go, so that it doesn’t fester or build, or escalate out of control.  Take a walk, run, get a massage, listen to music, take a bath, yell (or at least make your distress known) –anything that can release stress and stored or blocked emotions. We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you begin to express your emotions and speak honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

The immune system is often suppressed in people who feel they are not able to change the negative conditions of their lives, and are involved in toxic relationships.  Situations in which a woman has a physically or emotionally abusive man in her life or is stuck in a non-nurturing marriage or even in one where a husband is unable or unwilling to support his wife’s emotional needs can trigger a cascade of biochemical changes that help create a fertile field for cancer to grow.

This is not to say that everyone involved in a toxic relationship or who has relentless, unaddressed stress will develop cancer.  However, to help avoid a recurrence of cancer or to reverse the disease, you need to change the environment in which cancer was permitted to grow.  Identifying and releasing deep-seated negative emotions and thought patterns, while maintaining an attitude of hope and positive beliefs, can make the all-important difference in the pursuit of wellness. If you suspect negative relationships to be part of the cause, it’s time to make some changes. Make a commitment to yourself and eliminate the toxic relationships in your life; celebrate you and make sure you are a priority in life, not an afterthought. Consider stress reducing therapies such as Reiki, yoga, meditation, or kinesiology.  Join a support group to talk through your frustrations and to connect with others.

                                                   

Diet should be an important part of your anticancer strategy.  The cellular level is where cancer begins and where nutrition exerts its greatest effect. Our nutritional status either weakens us, making us susceptible to the development of cancer, or strengthens our bodies’ defense mechanisms, enhancing our ability to prevent renegade cells from becoming tumors, to avoid recurrence and often to reverse the disease.  Cancer loves inflammation, and inflammation plays a role at all three stages of cancer: initiation, progression and metastasis. Most foods either encourage or discourage inflammation.  A diet high in trans-fatty acids, carbohydrates and sugar helps the body to create inflammation, whereas a diet heavy in vegetables, whole grains and omega-3 fatty acids puts the brakes on the process.

In general, a high fiber, low fat, diet rich in legumes, fruits and vegetables is recommended (as well as exercise and maintaining a healthy weight).  Limit red meat (occasional organic, grass-fed meats are fine). Dairy consumption is somewhat controversial, but most would argue that avoiding or limiting dairy is best.  Remember, we want to enjoy life; deprivation can lead to depression and reduced enjoyment of life.  If eating cheese is of great pleasure to you, then by all means, have some, but try to find raw, organic cheeses made on small farms to avoid pesticides and unnecessary hormones. 

                               

Antioxidants and the immune system play critical role cancer prevention and in their ability to destroy cancers already present. Antioxidants protect cells and tissues, and remove the free radicals created by exposure to radiation, chemicals and inflammation.  Foods such as flaxseed, rosemary, apples, red wine, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables help remove and disable troublesome estrogen from the body. The immune system, and specifically NK cells (natural killer cells), are able to attack and kill a wide variety of cells and patrol the circulatory system and organs of the body on an antigen seek-and-destroy mission, so keeping these super-soldiers in optimal fighting condition is necessary to beat cancer.  A lack of minerals and nutrients will decrease the activity of these soldiers and compromise the immune system. Please include a wide variety of anti-cancer foods as each nutrient plays its own role in the prevention of cancer.  

Remember, the goal is to empower yourself to take responsibility for your own healing and to encourage you to take action, without creating a sense of guilt.  If you have cancer, think long and hard about how you got to this place in life, and what kind of joyful and fulfilling future you want to create as a survivor.  You can’t change the past, but you can take control of your future. Understanding which behaviors, ingrained patterns and dietary deficiencies we can begin to change in order to strengthen our immune systems and to allow our bodies to heal is the first step in the pursuit of wellness. Resolving these issues and moving towards a happier, healthier life is why many survivors say that getting cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them.

You might also find this link helpful, should you be interested in Acupuncture:

http://www.inspired-wellness.com/blog/2011/06/29/how-to-get-the-most-out-of-acupuncture/#comment-885

Elyn Jacobs

elyn@elynjacobs.com

elynjacobs.wordpress.com

Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation, a certified cancer coach and a breast cancer survivor.  Elyn empowers women to be active participants in their health; she is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life.

Find Elyn on Linked-in, Twitter @elynjacobs and FB:elynjacobs and Elyn Jacobs Consulting

 

Natural Alternatives to Tamoxifen

In Alternative Cancer Therapies, Alternatives Cancer Treatment, Alternatives to Tamoxifen, Breast Cancer, Healing Cancer Naturally, Hormone Balance, Tamoxifen, Uncategorized on January 15, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Over the past few months I have been asked many times if I know of a natural substitute for Tamoxifen.  I apologize that it has taken me so long to write this post, but it has required extensive research and obtaining the knowledge of many experts.  Many are not convinced that Tamoxifen is the wonder drug it is made out to be.  I am one of those people.  However, it is not my opinion that matters.  My job is to give you information and options, not opinions.  There are many others who believe that Tamoxifen is a beneficial drug. You and you alone can decide what is best for you, for your needs and concerns.

Tamoxifen is a synthetic drug that competes with estrogens for binding to the estrogen receptors in the body.  When estrogens bind the estrogen receptors in the cells of the breast or uterus, for example, this activates cell growth and division.  When Tamoxifen occupies the estrogen receptor in place of an estrogen, it paralyzes the receptor, preventing it from triggering the events that result in cell division.  It does not kill cancer cells, but in some respect, puts them to sleep or disables them.  Scientists call this a cytostatic drug; the word cytotoxic means toxic to cells, or cell-killing. However, Tam does not kill the cancer cells, but rather only stops them from growing; therefore there is no offer for a cure, only a band-aid.  When you remove the band-aid, the cells can then begin to divide again.  Tamoxifen also comes with a host of potential side effects so many doctors suggest a time limit of five years, after which the negatives may outweigh the positives.

http://www.drugs.com/sfx/tamoxifen-side-effects.html

http://www.rxlist.com/nolvadex-drug.htm

http://www.holisticmed.com/toxic/tamoxifen.shtml

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR601293/DSECTION=side-effects

http://lifeovercancerblog.typepad.com/life-over-cancer-blog/2011/10/getting-the-most-out-of-tamoxifen.html

Ok…so is there a natural substitute for Tamoxifen?  The short answer is no. Many women seek out a natural replacement for this drug, but the replacement is really an overall lifestyle approach – including diet, exercise, stress management, avoidance of toxins and adding the support of herbs and supplements. In other words, the best thing really is to follow an anti-cancer strategy.  In doing so, you will naturally incorporate an anti-estrogen strategy.  Your endocrine and immune systems will be in balance and you will be optimizing the other systems in your body to join you in your defense of cancer. However there are some things you can concentrate on.

The first thing you can do to reduce estrogen is to avoid unnecessary exposure to hormone- influencing toxins.  Be aware that most commercial home, garden and beauty products contain hormone-like compounds in them.  Purchase safer, chemical-free products, and please, do not use plastic containers or plastic wrap in the microwave (better yet, toss the micro, but that is a story for another day) and avoid BPA exposure as much as possible.

View my video on Natural Alternatives to Tamoxifen—Dr Kelly Turner, PhD interviews Elyn Jacobs for The Radical Remission Project. Update added 1/19/14

You may also want to read my updated version of Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors 

Please view the following links for the how-to of reducing the toxins in your world:

http://cincovidas.com/toxic-truth/ingredients-to-avoid-in-personal-care-products/

http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm

http://www.ecomall.com/biz/cleaning.htm

http://www.ewg.org/schoolcleaningsupplies/safecleaningtips

Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight play a crucial role in cancer prevention.  Exercise helps to reduce excess estrogen from the body and being overweight boosts the body’s estrogen levels.  Obesity increases the body’s insulin levels and insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) that have a growth promoting effect on cells, especially on cancerous cells. Further, recent studies have proven that overweight and obese women have higher levels of inflammation, which provides a cancer promoting environment in the body. Try to exercise for at least 30-45 minutes a day. Any exercise is better than none, but a brisk walk or run will give you more protection.

“Let Food be thy Medicine, and Medicine be thy Food”    Hippocrates

Hippocrates was right, and in this case, specific food choices and supplements offer natural ways to inhibit cancer growth and balance hormones.

Flaxseed–The lignans in flax are phytoestrogens, but they actually bind to estrogen receptors in the body and work a bit like Tamoxifen, as they hop on the estrogen and bind up these hormones and carcinogens and remove them from the body.  Although lignans are found in most unrefined grains (barley, buckwheat, millet and oats), soybeans, and some vegetables (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and spinach), flaxseed is the richest source.  I recommend eating 2 tablespoons freshly ground golden flaxseed daily. If you are unable to eat 2-3 Tbs daily, I recommend a supplement: Brevail Proactive Breast Health Capsules, 30-Count Box

More on the benefits of flaxseed:

https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/demystifying-flaxseed-and-estrogen/

http://www.thehindu.com/health/medicine-and-research/article2455486.ece

http://jn.nutrition.org/content/139/11/2061.full

Love your liver—No, not liver, your liver. Your body depends on a fully-functioning liver to break down and eliminate hormones and toxins in the body. Calcium d-glucurate, a natural ingredient found in certain vegetables and fruits that helps detoxify the liver and promote estrogen metabolism.  Vegetables rich in glucaric acid include those in the cruciferous family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, etc. –please eat several servings of these every day), as well as in the gourd (think squash, watermelon and pumpkins).  For fruits, look for oranges and apples, and consider legumes such as peas, lentils and bean sprouts. Calcium d-glucurate can also be found in supplement form. Silymarin or milk thistle also prevents damage to the liver by acting as an antioxidant and enhancing the detoxification process.  NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) is also a liver fortifier and detoxification tool.  (NAC is also useful in the removal of the lead and mercury from dental fillings as well as the toxins in paint). Limit alcohol and avoid drugs that can damage the liver.

Adding bitter greens, such as arugula and chicory, to salads will also help the liver excrete excess hormones.  (Arugula is also a member of the cruciferous family)

Pomegranateare a potent source phytonutrients, and antioxidants like polyphenols, ellagitannins (ellagic acid), tannins and anthocyanins.  These compounds are strong free-radical fighters, providing added protection against cellular damage, and research has suggested that these phytochemicals may suppress estrogen.  Researchers now believe that it is specifically the ellagic acid in pomegranates that inhibits aromatase, the key enzyme used by the body to make estrogen.  Thus, as breast and ovarian cancers require estrogen to grow, AIs are offered to either block the production of estrogen or block the action of estrogen on receptors; pomegranates and their bioactive metabolites may act as a natural aromatase inhibitor. Other sources of Ellagic acid are raspberries and Marion berries.

Please note: I do not suggest that you take ellagic acid supplements, but rather whole food sources of Ellagitannin.  When you eat foods that contain ellagitannins, your body converts these ellagitannins into ellagic acid much in the same way your body converts Beta-carotene into vitamin A.  When you eat beta-carotene rich foods, you get the full benefit of Vitamin A without the potential health risks of the synthetic form of vitamin A.  The same is true for Ellagic Acid which is not as available to the body and comes with potential side effects, such as high blood pressure.

Limit Caffeine– Those who consumed at least 500 mg of caffeine daily, the equivalent of four or five cups of coffee had nearly 70% more estrogen than women who consumed less than 100 mg of caffeine daily.

Choose only organic animal products from grass-fed livestock that has not been fed estrogen, progesterone or testosterone.  Fats from milk and meat are loaded with estrogen, but at least try to avoid products with added hormones.

Eat apples, every day.  Quercetin, found in apples, red wine, onions, and green tea, has anti-estrogenic effects and may reduce the metastatic potential of cancer cells.  Red wine you say?  Yes, red wine may lower estrogen levels. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/240065.php?utm_medium=twitter&utm_s

Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a phytonutrient and plant indole found in cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale, with many powerful anticancer properties. Dim also promotes estrogen metabolism.  Estrogen can be metabolized in two different pathways in the liver, which results in two different kinds of estrogen, “good” and “bad” estrogen. “Good” estrogen metabolites are released into the bloodstream there they cause many of the benefits estrogen provides, such as prevention of heart disease, and strong, healthy bones. “Bad” estrogen, in large quantities, can result in many health problems including autoimmune disorders, breast cancer, cervical dysplasia, fibroid tumors, magnesium deficiency, osteoporosis, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and zinc deficiency. ***Please read the following articles for updates on DIM, posted April 8th 2013 —DIM-New Thoughts on an Old Story. and  posted October 31, 2013 DIM: A Bright New View on Cancer Management .  Nature’s Way – Dim-Plus, 120 capsules

Manage Stress—the adrenal gland is where stress is expressed.  Chronic stress leading to adrenal fatigue is a leading cause of progesterone depletion and thus estrogen dominance.  Stress, per se, is not the true enemy, but rather how we respond to it.  For more on stress and cancer, please visit: https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/changing-the-cancer-environment/

My post on Chinese Herbal Medicine highlighted the point that CHM looks to individually assess each person’s condition, identifying excesses, deficiencies, and imbalances – as understood within the TCM diagnostic framework – and to prescribe a combination of herbs to bring the system as a whole back into balance. With that said, a lot of research has been done on the physiological effects of various herbs, particularly on estrogen and other hormones, so a visit with an herbalist might be a good part of an anti-estrogen strategy.

Simply put, estrogen can be reduced or managed using exercise, diet and relaxation modalities, but there is not one magic bullet.  That said, I know I have mentioned embracing  the cruciferous family, but I cannot stress this enough….raw or lightly cooked is best, juicing fantastic, and freeze-dried fine if that is the only way to get them.  I strongly recommend the use of super-food powders such as Completely GreenDesigns for Health PaleoredsPaleogreens  and similar formulas….these supplements are a great way to bridge the gap between great intentions and actually getting the nutrients and enzymes we need (just remember, supplements are intended to accompany a good diet, not replace one.)  Take time for yourself everyday for exercise, laughter, relaxation and love, and benefit from a monthly massage.  Embrace every day and remind yourself everyday that you matter, that you deserve to be loved and cared for.

Please understand that nothing in this post represents medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss this information with your integrative oncologist or naturopathic doctor. I have compiled this information solely for those seeking an alternative to Tamoxifen and cannot endorse either protocol.

You may find the following article helpful, but please discuss any and all of the suggestions here with your doctor before utilizing them. http://www.drlam.com/articles/estrogen_dominance.asp?page=1

Herbal Medicine, and Healing Cancer , by Dr Donald Yance, is an excellent resource for balancing hormones and healing cancer naturally, as well as for support during conventional cancer treatments.

You may also be interested in Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors: https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/natural-alternatives-to-aromatase-inhibitors/

Elyn Jacobs

Elyn Jacobs is a certified cancer coach, a breast cancer survivor and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation.  She empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs.  Elyn helps women to uncover the nutritional deficiencies and emotional stress patterns that may have contributed to their cancer and to support their body as it activates it own natural ability to fight the disease. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services or to learn more about eating for life, please visit:  https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com.

The Dark Side of Peanuts and Dairy

In Uncategorized on January 15, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Peanut butter is a staple in many children’s diets.  Peanuts (which, by the way are a legume, not a nut) are hign in protein, so why not eat them?  Peanuts, and expecially peanut butter are often contaminated by a fungus-produced toxin known as Aflatoxin (AF).  Aflatoxins often occur in crops in the field prior to harvest, but after harvest contamination can occur if crop drying is delayed and crops are stored in moist conditions.  Aflatoxins are found occasionally in milk, cheese, corn, peanuts, cottonseed, nuts, almonds, figs, spices as well as in feeds for animals (the reason AF is found in dairy and meat products).  However, the commodities with the highest risk of AF contamination are corn, peanuts and cottonseed.  Peanut butter is often contaminated with levels of AF as much as 300 times the amount judged to be acceptable in U.S. food, while whole peanuts were much less contaminated.  This disparity between peanut butter and whole peanuts originates at the peanut factory.  The best peanuts, which fill “cocktail” jars, are hand selected from a moving conveyor belt, leaving the worst, moldiest nuts to be delivered to the end of the belt to make peanut butter.  The visual here makes me never want to even look at peanut butter again.  So besides the unappealing idea of eating moldy peanuts, what’s the real issue?  AF’s have shown to cause liver cancer in rats, and are thought by many to be the most potent chemical carcinogen ever discovered.  So where’s the FDA?  The FDA allows AF’s at low levels in nuts, seeds and legumes because they are considered “unavoidable contaminants.”  The FDA believes occasionally eating small amounts of aflatoxin poses little risk over a lifetime, and that it is not practical to attempt to remove it from food products.   The problem here is the word “occasional.”  Occasional is a bit like the phrase “in moderation”; the problem being that it is easy to have too much of something you enjoy.

 To help minimize your exposure to aflatoxin, the FDA recommends purchasing only major brands of nuts and nut butters and to discard any shelled nuts that look discolored or moldy. Some medical research has indicated that a diet including vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, celery and parsley may reduce the carcinogenic effects of aflatoxin, and a study by the Johns Hopkins University also suggests that foods high in chlorophyll can be helpful.  Green vegetables – asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green cabbage, celery, collard greens, green beans, green peas, kale, leeks, green olives, parsley, romaine lettuce, sea vegetables, spinach, and turnip greens are concentrated sources of chlorophyll.

Who is most susceptible to AF contamination and its cancer-producing effects?  Children are major consumers of peanut butter.  (I will add that I practically survived on peanut butter for much of my early adulthood, and certainly suspect that was part of my demise.) Children are also major consumers of dairy products, and a well-known study called The China Study produced compelling evidence that casein, the protein in cow’s milk, helps promote and nurture tumor development.  The study produced significant evidence that a high-animal protein diet combined with even a small amount of aflatoxin resulted in very high rates of liver cancer in adults as well as children.  They also found that in those people who consumed considerable AF’s and very little animal protein, cancer rates were very low.   They found that casein, and very likely all animal proteins, may be the one of the most cancer-causing substances that we consume.  Adjusting the amount of dietary casein we eat may have the power to turn on and off cancer growth. What does this mean?  It means that while we should still be concerned with AF’s, it makes sense to reduce our animal protein consumption. (Overall, animal protein is not the best protein source for most people. While a high animal-protein diet can promote cancer growth, plant protein does not, even at high levels of intake). To reduce your animal protein consumption, consider almond, rice or hemp milk instead of cow’s milk, and switch to a mostly- whole foods, plant-based diet.

Need another reason to toss the peanuts?  Peanuts are an inflammatory food, which means consumption increases inflammation in the body.  Inflammation is known to provide a cancer promoting environment in the body.  Can’t imagine giving up peanut butter?  Try almond butter.  It may take some getting used to, but your body will thank you and may just find it delicious!

For more information, please visit:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC64728/

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/impacts/aflatoxin/index.cfm

http://www.thechinastudy.com/

and added 12/19/2014: Peanut component linked to cancer spread

Elyn Jacobs

elyn@elynjacobs.com

elynjacobs.wordpress.com

elynjacobs.blogspot.com

  Elyn Jacobs is a certified cancer coach, a breast cancer survivor and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation.  She empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs.  Elyn helps women to uncover the nutritional deficiencies and emotional stress patterns that may have contributed to their cancer and to support their body as it activates it own natural ability to fight the disease. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services or to learn more about eating for life, please visit:  https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com.