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Natural Cancer Prevention

man and woman standing in sunny day
April 27, 2015 (Updated: August 16, 2018)
Lily Moran

We hear so much about cancer. Entire months are devoted to raising awareness about various forms of the disease. The media jump any time a new treatment or vaccine gets approved. Talk shows and social media feeds share countless inspirational stories of survival.

Of course, I fully support cancer awareness. I have a special place in my heart for all my patients who battle this disease. However, I find it surprising (and frustrating) that, for all the emphasis on treatment and cure, very little time and energy are devoted to prevention. (Perhaps it’s because there’s little money to be made in prevention.)

Preventing a disease is so much easier than having to treat it after it’s started to ravage your body. For that reason, in this letter, I am going to focus on five simple things you can do to truly protect yourself against cancer.

Prevention Is the Best Medicine

First things first: Good health always starts with smart lifestyle choices. You simply must eat a clean, wholesome diet most of the time (a cheat day here and there is OK), exercise at least five days a week, avoid all tobacco products, drink only in moderation, and take a high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement to fill in any nutritional gaps.

If you do all this, you are well on your way to creating a slightly alkaline environment that’s largely inhospitable to cancer. As I discussed a couple weeks ago in my letter about acidosis, having an acidic pH sets the stage for inflammation, which has been directly linked to cancer and so many other serious health problems.

But that’s just the beginning, here are five other simple, natural tips for locking cancer out of your body:

Cut stress

We all know that constant stress affects our health. It can spike blood pressure, lower immunity, and increase risk of heart problems. But did you know that research has found a direct link between stress and the growth and development of cancer?

A study out of the prestigious MD Anderson Cancer Center determined that stress hormones actually weaken the body’s tumor-killing ability and encourage the growth of new tumor-feeding blood vessels.

So don’t wait until tomorrow to manage your stress levels. Start today. Some excellent stress-cutting tools include therapy, meditation, yoga, tai chi, qigong, deep breathing, visualization, and exercise. And by all means, don’t be afraid to ask for help or delegate tasks to reduce your workload.

Get some sunshine

True, excessive exposure to the sun can cause skin damage and possibly cancer. But avoiding the sun altogether is a mistake. Exposing your skin to ultraviolet radiation from the sun for 10-20 minutes a day boosts your body’s production of vitamin D3—one of the most incredibly important nutrients.

Sunscreen may protect against skin damage—but it also completely interferes with the body’s ability to absorb the sun’s rays. As a result, nearly 50 percent of the population is deficient in vitamin D.

This may not seem like a big deal—until you realize just how essential D is in preventing certain cancers. A meta-analysis published just this month concluded that vitamin D can protect against breast, prostate, colorectal, and some hematological forms of cancer.

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Chronic Inflammation Decoded

It is nearly impossible to get enough vitamin D through diet alone. And while supplements work, sun exposure is certainly the most reliable and cheapest way to ensure your body produces enough of this nutrient.

If you’re fair skinned, go outside for just 10 minutes in the midday sun (without sunscreen). If you’re darker skinned, stay out for 20 minutes. That’s all you need to produce up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D!

Boost your friendly bugs

The beneficial bacteria that reside in your gastrointestinal tract (better known as probiotics) play a huge role in keeping you healthy. In fact, by some estimates, up to 80 percent of your immunity starts in your gut, thanks to this robust population of health-promoting microbes.

Research indicates that probiotics can help put a stop to cancer-causing DNA damage and decrease enzymes blamed for cancer-causing activity in the body. Probiotics also suppress the growth of unhealthy bacteria that create an environment favorable to cancer.

To boost your levels of probiotics, take a supplement every day that contains at least 10 billion colony forming units (CFUs) per dose. Also be sure it has several strains of friendly bugs, including Lactobacillus acidophilus, rhamnosus, and casei as well as Bifidobacteria bifidum and longum.

Reduce oxidative damage

There’s no greater buzzword today than antioxidant and for good reason. Antioxidants block the activity of harmful substances known as free radicals. These highly reactive molecules have the potential to damage cells to the point that cancer may develop.

Free radicals are produced naturally during normal functions such as breathing. But some environmental factors may increase free radical damage as well, including pollution, exposure to toxins or chemicals, and even eating a highly processed fast-food meal.

Vegetables and fruits contain robust amounts of various antioxidants, as does black coffee, green tea and red wine. But to give your body therapeutic levels of these disease fighters, you need to take a supplement. Resveratrol, lycopene, and astaxanthin are three well-studied antioxidants that have displayed anticancer activity. And by taking a multivitamin and mineral every day, you’re benefitting from the antioxidant power of vitamins C and E as well as beta-carotene.

Get recurrent infections under control

Finally, recurrent, chronic infections are a strong sign that your immune system is not functioning properly. This can make you more susceptible to cancer and a wide variety of other diseases that prey on weakened immunity.

If you have infections such as herpes, Candida, human papillomavirus, work with your doctor to keep them under control.

While you can’t prevent cancer 100 percent, taking these steps creates an environment in which cancer cannot grow, spread, or survive. Remember, this disease lives and thrives on weakness. If you keep your body strong, you give yourself the best shot against falling victim to potential assaults such as cancer.

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