Posts Tagged ‘toxins and Cancer’

Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Anti-Cancer Party

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Wine, Cheese and Chocolate are three things you don’t always associate with an anti-cancer diet.  However, while critics may say–whoa, hold on now—hear me out.  Wine, cheese, chocolate can be good for you, in moderation and with a few rules.

Red wine, (and dark chocolate) have positive components that are actually good for your heart and may inhibit the development of certain cancers, including breast cancer. There have been studies and reports on this for years. Of course, there are studies that say ANY alcohol raises your risk for breast cancer (likely these were done by teetotalers…just kidding).  The bad news is that the body converts alcohol into DNA-destroying acetaldehyde, a carcinogen (same family as formaldehyde). However, you can help neutralize alcohol’s toxic effects by consuming certain nutrients and phytonutrients. 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. 

Protective components are carotene (think carrots), folic Acid (B9), niacin (B3), vitamins B6, B1, C, D, E, and a few others in smaller amounts.  Keep in mind that red wine is a good source of folic acid, biotin, vitamin B6, niacin, potassium and magnesium….so it itself, it is part of the solution.  A note on folic acid— research indicates that women who drink alcohol and have a high folate intake are not 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). 

Alcohol also depletes necessary glutathione; NAC helps the body produce more glutathione. (N-acetyl cysteine is also used for preventing alcohol related liver damage and to combat toxicity from Tylenol use).  Keep in mind that 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. Remember too…always have a high-fiber snack with your wine and  consider a daily  brazil nut, as they are high in selenium, of which a deficiency can increase risk for cancer; selenium levels tend to be reduced in people who drink alcohol regularly.

Take a look at these links…you can taste the controversy—so please, while there are arguments on both sides, it is best for your all around health to 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.







Cheese; a cancer no-no, right?  Most of us think cheese is the enemy; it’s loaded with fat and contributes to cancer.  Dr William Li has a different opinion. Certain cheeses contain Vitamin K2 that inhibits cancer growth.  But don’t think you are limited to Gouda and Jarlsburg; other hard and soft cheeses contain K2, as do butter and egg yolks.  Also, full fat dairy contains CLA which has powerful anti-cancer benefits, so skip the low fat versions; just be sure to buy organic, locally produced cheese made from cows or sheep not injected with hormones, and who are grass fed, whenever possible. CLA may also help reduce body fat—especially belly fat, something which increases our risk for cancer.  Remember—real food for real people; when you mess with Mother Nature you pass up on nutrients and add chemicals.  (Eat the butter and cheese, pass on the substitutes)




Chocolate, oh how we love chocolate. Chocolate was once thought to be nothing more than a decadent indulgence.  We think of chocolate as forbidden as we try to avoid sugar; but chocolate actually helps regulate blood sugar.  Just be sure to eat the real thing….the general rule is to look for 70% or higher and  sugar content should be minimal; read the ingredients (there should not be many and they should be real foods). And, research shows that dark chocolate may just be the top antioxidant, right up there or even better than blueberries! For better or worse, the food you eat sends messages to your genes which alters their expression patterns, and that in turn can alter disease. Inflammation-related genes are no exception, and inflammation is the precursor to cancer. Eating plenty of blueberries and chocolate can make those inflammatory genes behave nicely. Chocolate covered blueberries anyone?

There is more to the chocolate story:



So, enjoy your party—but don’t cry…..have some red wine, some cheese and a few truffles, soufflés and even hot chocolate as it can be a good source of resveratrol and cocoa phenols (flavonoids) as long as dark chocolate with a high content of cocoa is used.  Just remember that terrible word…moderation.  Live a little….isn’t that why we work so hard to beat cancer?



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Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer coach, radio talk show host, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn is also on the peer review board of the Natural Standard Database. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs.  She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys.


Cancer Tips from the Integrative Healthcare Symposium

In Uncategorized on February 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm

I had the pleasure of attending the 2012 Integrative Healthcare Symposium, and wish to share some information.  Dr Jeffrey Bland spoke on the clinical implications of epigenetics.  Dr Leo Galland spoke on Dysbiosis and the GI ecosystem.  Dr James Gordon spoke of importance of hope and also of the benefits of meditation, that meditation changes the structure of the brain. Dr Mimi Guarneri shared the opinion that Metformin may well be the most effective anti-cancer drug out there. Dr Dean Ornish spoke on the power of lifestyle changes.  Dr Tori Hudson spoke on women’s health, hormones, and botanicals that can help reduce stress and protect ourselves during harmful chemo and radiation. Dr Lise Alschuler made a compelling argument for embracing polyphenolic flavonoids.  Dr Mark Hyman spoke and entertained us with the perils of toxins and the benefits and strategies for detoxification.  Devra Lee Davis, PhD shocked us with the perils of using cell phones and other such devices, and encouraged us to practice safe-cell (a topic of its own and will get its own post).  There were many, many more and while I can’t possibly rehash all the valuable information, I’d like to share some key points and in the next few weeks will comment in more detail.

 Jeffrey Bland spoke of environmental epigenetics, the exposure and its relationship to chronic illness, and also the effect of specific nutrients on genetic expression.  He spoke of how phytochemicals “talk to our genes”.  Food is information, eat dead food, get dead information.  He encouraged us to eat for health.

What amazed me is transgenerational epigenetics, the effect on our future generations.  He explained that once the genes are marked, they carry to the next generations, already marked.  So, the lifestyle modifications that make you sick, such as radiation, stress, infections, drugs, diet, and pollution, will likely make generations forward sick.   He mentioned Moshe Szyf, whose concern is what happens in a world community where the children don’t feel safe. Will this emotional stress jeopardize generations forward?

 He then got into how the food a mother eats during pregnancy imprints the gene expression in her babies.  A lack of Folate or b-12 can have detrimental consequences.  He gave the example of childhood leukemia; that it has been identified to be associated with altered epigenetics, and in this case, he was especially concerned with the deficiency of B12 and Folate in those that carry the gene.  He also said that early-life environmental conditions can cause epigenetic changes in humans that persist throughout life.

 Leo Galland reminded us that it’s not that stress suppresses the immune system, it is because the stress directly affects the gut flora.  The gut has a brain of its own; an intact and independent nervous system containing over 500 million neurons.  The gut is also the largest organ of immune function in the body; 70% of our lymphocytes live here. (And we all know how important the immune system is in fighting cancer). He also commented that large bowel cancer is associated with high fat, high protein, low fiber diets.  He suggests probiotics and prebiotics, foods that support the growth of probiotics, such as bran, psyllium, inulin (think chicory and artichokes), resistant starch, and oligofructose (think onions, garlic, rye, blueberries, bananas and chicory).

Dean Ornish talked about how fear is not a sustainable motivator; that we might agree to a treatment plan or drug out the fear our doctors might instill, but real change comes from what you want to do, not on what someone says you should do.  If lifestyle changes make you feel better, you are more likely to stay with them as opposed to taking a drug that you fear of that makes you feel bad.  Lifestyle changes empower you to take control of your health, and this was Dean Ornish’s message.    He spoke of lifestyle and Prostate cancer risk and said that lifestyle had up to a 70% effect on risk.  He also said that only one in 49 patients treated for prostate cancer actually live longer, so it would likely be better to treat with lifestyle changes. He spoke of lung cancer. Telling patients that by quitting smoking they will reduce risk of lung cancer did not motivate them to quit, but telling them that it gives you wrinkles or makes men impotent, well yes, now that was motivation. 

He spoke of diet and like others, suggested that if it comes from a plant, eat it; if it is made in a plant, avoid it.  He also reminded us that what you include is just as important as what you exclude, so eat mindfully.

He also made us aware that Medicare is now paying for comprehensive lifestyle changes for patients wishing to reverse heart disease, so hopefully the same will soon be offered for cancer patients.

He embraced cancer support groups commenting that meeting (in person or online) in a group once a week dramatically improved the survival rate for those with metastatic breast cancer.  He asked us if we knew the difference between illness and wellness. (I also stands for Isolation, btw, and is not indicative of wellness).

     Illness     Wellness 

Lise Alschuler explained that flavonoids exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune modulating, hormone balancing, blood sugar stabilizing and cancer prevention effects.  Flavonoids are one of the reasons why it is so important to consume a diet full of colorful vegetables and fruits.  She stressed that they can help your chemo work and protect you during radiation.  She also said you need to eat them every meal, as the effects last for about 1-4 hours.  

Trying to quit smoking?  Studies showed that smokers who ate plenty of vegetables and drank tea and red wine substantially reduced their risk for cancer.  So, while you are trying to quit, have some broccoli or a glass of wine with that cigarette.  However, she stresses that this does not give you permission to continue smoking.

She also showed the reverse relationship between flavonoid consumption and ovarian cancer (37%), and 47% for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as between isoflavonoids (Non GMO soy) consumption and ovarian cancer (49%). 

She explained the powerful properties in Delphinidin as a cancer prevention agent (think Maquai berries) and mentioned that they were also helpful in reducing the damage of radiation, and that in general, flavonoids should not be so quickly dismissed during chemotherapy as they can be helpful, not harmful.  She also mentioned the benefits of Resveratrol, (heard this from many during the three days…)


Mark Hyman takes the approach that doctors shouldn’t treat disease; create health and the disease will go away.  He spoke of the hidden dangers of wheat, what he calls the new dwarf or FrankenWheat – a scientifically engineered food product developed in the last 50 years. Two slices of this new whole wheat bread now raise your blood sugar more than two tablespoons of table sugarFor those of us trying to eliminate sugar from our diets, this was quite a shock. For more information, check out his new book, Blood Sugar Solution http://drhyman.com/bss-sneak-preview/ 

He also explained how toxins make you fat (toxins interfere with and slow down metabolism) as well as contribute to all chronic illnesses, including cancer.  To detox your body, he suggests:

  • Eat more cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, etc.) as well as garlic, green tea, turmeric, and whole eggs. They contain phytonutrient detox-boosting compounds.  Add them to your diet daily.  Other great detox foods are cilantro, celery, parsley, dandelion greens, citrus peels (not orange unless organic) pomegranate, artichokes and rosemary
  • Sweat regularly using saunas
  • Take glutathione-boosting and detox-boosting supplements NAC, milk thistle, and buffered vitamin C
    • NAC dramatically increases glutathione.  Glutathione helps eliminate pesticides and heavy metals and protects the body from oxidative stress
    • Milk thistle has long been used in liver disease and helps boost glutathione levels

For more information on any of the topics above, please comment to this post or email me at elyn@elynjacobs.com.

Elyn Jacobs




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 helps women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and educates to prevent recurrence and new cancers.  She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services, 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:




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

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.