By Lise Alschuler, N.D. and Karolyn Gazella, authors of Five to Thrive: Your Cutting-Edge Cancer Prevention Plan
October is breast cancer awareness month, which often causes us to look at ways to reduce cancer risk. For those with a previous diagnosis this awareness is heightened as they proactively work towards preventing a recurrence. Author James Thurber once said, “Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.” This month, this day, this moment, let us be aware that we can, in fact, reduce our risk of developing cancer. Perhaps the three most powerful tools to risk reduction are a healthy diet, physical activity, and sleep.
It has been estimated that 30 percent of all cancers could be prevented through adherence to a healthier diet. Eating a diet that is full of colorful, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, and lean protein provides us with essential cancer-fighting antioxidants, immune supportive vitamins and minerals, anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids, and plenty of other cancer-fighting phytonutrients. Regular consumption of whole grain fibers will support immunity and digestive function – both vital protectors against cancer. Also, when you reduce the amount of refined sugar, alcohol and saturated fat in your diet, you will also be reducing your tendency towards inflammation, insulin resistance, decreased immunity and hormonal imbalance.
If you add at least 30 minutes of daily exercise to this healthy diet, you will reduce your cancer risk significantly, even up to 50 percent for some cancers. Remember, exercise is sustainable when it’s fun so choose activities you enjoy.
Finally, sleep is often a neglected ingredient in cancer prevention recipes; however it is a crucial one. Adequate sleep – at least eight hours every night for most people – allows your body to repair damaged DNA, balance critical hormones and blood sugar, support active immunity and stimulate detoxification of cancer-causing compounds. All of these effects are critical for cancer prevention.
As we bathe ourselves in awareness this month, let us also be reminded that reducing cancer risk requires a long-term commitment to health, vitality and exuberant living. As Aristotle once wrote, “The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.”
More information about reducing your risk can be found in our book, Five to Thrive: Your Cutting-Edge Cancer Prevention Plan (Active Interest Media, 2011) or at our website www.FiveToThrivePlan.com. You can also learn more about integrative cancer treatment and prevention by listening to our daily internet talk radio show, Five To Thrive Live! on www.W4CS.com Monday through Friday 5p PT / 8p ET.