Still the main concern of the health organizations is the secondary prevention manifested as early detection and supply of adequate conventional treatments and pain relief. Nevertheless, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 40% of the cancer burden can be reduced by adopting healthier lifestyle and avoiding or limiting the exposure to risk factors.
To be able to fight any disease, including cancer, our main aim should be improving our immune system by avoiding or minimizing risks and implementing healthy daily practice for general well-being. Here are some useful tips:
• Shift to a healthy wholesome diet eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Get your carbohydrates from whole grains. Reduce your meat and fat intake and supply your protein needs mainly from beans, legumes, seeds, nuts and lentils. Boost your fibers intake, they are powerful protectors from colon cancer. Avoid fast food chains and reduce your intake of salt, smoked and pickled food. Eat beans, legumes, and lentils and use lots of natural herbal spices in your home cooking.
• Vary your food to ensure the intake of a wide range of the beneficial vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (these are beneficial nutrients from plant origin that act, among other things, as antioxidants and anti-cancer agents). An easy way to achieve this is to vary the colors on your plate: dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and rocket are good sources of folate (B vitamin) and vitamin C. They also contain large amounts of chlorophyll, a detoxifier and anticancer agent. Orange and yellow vegetables, like carrots and sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotenes and red vegetables, like tomatoes, supply lycopene; both are powerful antioxidant believed to have anti-cancerous action. Anthocyanidins are complex flavonoids that produce blue, purple or red colors. Food rich in these phytochemicals include beets, purple and red grapes, and purple cabbage. Anthocyanidins support connective tissue regeneration and are anti-oxidants, anti-cancerous and anti-inflammatory.
• Some food have special benefits: Citrus fruits are good source of Vitamin C anti-oxidant. The cabbage family (cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli) are powerful detoxifiers and offer great protection against cancer. The sulfur compounds in onion and garlic have a known ability to fight cancer. It was related that ancient pharaohs used to feed the workers on onions while building the pyramids to give them strength.
• Drink natural fresh fruits and vegetable juices and experiment with new flavors: drinks as liquorice, hibiscus, and carob for instence showed potential antioxidant and/ or anti-mutagenic action.
• Include herbs in your daily routine either as food spices or as herbal teas. Herbs offer a wide range of phytonutrients and antioxidants. Experiment with different flavors: available: ginger, nigella (black cumin), cumin, coriander, peppermint, dill, fennel, fenugreek, thyme, curcumin, cardamom, marjoram…
• Try growing your own greens and herbs avoiding harmful pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. You do not need to have a garden; you can grow them on your window sill.
• Learn new healthy cooking techniques and whenever possible avoid deep fried, barbequed and charbroiled foods; these methods of cooking generate harmful toxins and potential carcinogens. Seek free-range organic animals whenever possible or avoid animals fed on hormones and antibiotics. Remove the skin and fatty parts of your poultry before cooking as most carcinogens are fat soluble.
• Control your weight. Maintaining a desired body mass index may reduce the occurrence of many cancers.
• Take the habits of reading the labels, keep away from food containing chemical preservatives, synthetic additives and hydrogenated fats. Boycott suspected products with substandard qualities or products with unclear labels to urge companies to ameliorate their quality control and product standards.
• Do not smoke and avoid environmental tobacco smoke, passive smokers are subjected to similar harm. If you are a smoker, seek assistance to help you quit. Check alternative approaches like visualization, hypnosis and group therapy.
• Recheck your household chemicals; especially dry-clean sprays, air-fresheners and pesticides. Most of these products are not tested for long term effect on the human body and are not subjected to proper toxicity testing.
• Apply sun protection. If you have an outdoor job, try to reduce exposure to the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Seek shade, use wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves cotton clothes, sun glasses and, if necessary, apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF value.
• Get physically active. If you do not have the time to exercise, try to include some activities in your daily routine; for instance, park the car a station away from your destination and enjoy a walk or climb the stairs instead of using the elevator, visit your friend instead of calling him on the phone or go to the supermarket instead of asking for delivery.
• Reduce the stress level in your life using different relaxation techniques, meditation and prayers. Emotional factor pose a very important risk. I here quote Dr. Norman Shealy: “Cancer often is diagnosed one to two years following a devastating emotional crisis”.
• Adopt a loving, caring and forgiving attitude and enjoy an active intimate and stable social life. Dr. Andrew Weil said: “Our spiritual selves resonate with others; if the interconnection is positive, human connectedness is the most powerful healer, capable of neutralizing many harmful influences on the material plane”.