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April is Cancer Control Month!

“There is a can in cancer because we can beat it.”

Unknown

Traditional Stoicism


What Is Cancer Control?

According to the CDC, cancer kills over 600,000 people each year and is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. This may be a blunt introduction here but there are always options for people undergoing treatment and battling this disease. You are not a statistic, you are a fighter and have many allies on your side. Cancer Control has put certain initiatives in place since the late 1930’s to raise awareness of cancer treatments and prevention. Education, cancer screenings and recognition of certain signs and symptoms have greatly reduced the death rate since the 30’s but more can always be done.

Cancer Control Mission

  • Prevent cancer

  • Reduce the risk of cancer

  • Find cancer earlier

  • Improve cancer treatments

  • Help more people survive cancer

  • Improve the quality of life for people who have cancer

McDowell, S. (2018, August 2). What is cancer control? American Cancer Society.


Nutrition And Cancer

Genetics play a strong role in prevention, development and treatment of most illnesses, including cancer. Environment, nutrition and lifestyle, however, also greatly contribute to one’s overall health status. I’ve mentioned before that most adults (by now) realize the major factors (besides genetics) that affect health and introduce chronic inflammation and/or disease. The usual suspects are repeated time and again in my posts regardless of topic. It’s woven into all the elements of modifiable lifestyle factors. Here are they are:

  • Healthy Diet (But we know this, of course.)

  • Exercise (This one too.)

  • Moderate alcohol intake (Define moderate….)

  • No smoking (Yes, I'm aware.)

What Do You Mean By Healthy Diet?

Now is a good time to start thinking about your own food choices. Perhaps writing them down in your phone or a small notepad and reviewing them at the end of the day would be helpful to add some awareness into the foods you select and why. Is it out of habit? Convenience? Do they make you feel comforted? Don’t add any judgment as you review your choices. Don’t label anything as “good foods” or “bad food”. Just simply note them. Do you include any of the foods below in your daily choices? If not, would you be open to adding one new food a week and see how it goes?

  • Dark leafy greens (Spinach, mesclun greens, kale, bok choy, swiss chard and collard greens are some great options.)

  • Fruit (Berries in particular)

  • Vegetables (All are welcome. Be mindful if your veggies are covered with butter or other rich sauces. Perhaps swap those out for fresh or dried herbs and spices to add extra flavor without extra calories and fat.)

  • Beans, peas, legumes (These are fiber rich plant-based protein sources as well)

  • Whole grains (Brown rice, whole grain pasta, cereals and bread)

  • Omega 3 rich fatty fish (Salmon, mackerel, sardine and cod are good options. Try for “Wild Caught” vs farm raised if possible.)

Healthy Unsaturated Fat Choices

  • Nuts (Unsalted walnuts, almonds. peanuts, and cashews.)

  • Olive oil

  • Avocados

Below are some foods you might want to consider limiting if you find (upon reflection) there are prolific in your daily diet.

  • Red meats like beef, pork, and lamb

  • Processed meats like bacon, sausage, luncheon meats, and hot dogs

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages, including soft drinks, sports drinks, and fruit drinks

  • Highly processed foods such as store bought bakery items and refined grain products such as white bread and whore flour.

To Sum Up

  • Fill most of your plate with colorful vegetables and fruits, beans, and whole grains.

  • Choose fish, poultry, or beans as your main sources of protein instead of red meat or processed meats.

  • If you eat red or processed meats, eat smaller portions.

  • Try baking, or broiling over frying or grilling.

  • Start reading food labels at the grocery store. If there are more than 10 ingredients and words you have trouble pronouncing (I know I do) opt for a different item and ingredients you know (and can read).

  • Everyone needs a cheat day, just be mindful and try not to go overboard (1 scoop of ice cream v 3 scoops). Everyone needs a treat a few times a week.

Alcohol

Sooooo…this can be a touchy subject with a lot of different medical opinions. You can probably find any answer you're looking for but it should be in relative context to the actual subject which right now is cancer control. I’m not keeping you from enjoying your glass of wine with dinner or your Friday night cocktail but remember…consistent alcohol consumption in excess can increase the risk of mouth, throat, liver and colon cancers and it can also potentially increase the rate of developing prostate cancers. The 2020 Dietary Guidelines recommends drinking no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. Portion size and alcohol volume breakdown to the following:

  • Beer: 12 oz and 5% abv

  • Wine: 5 oz and 12% abv

  • Liquor: 1.5 oz and 40% abv

If you are taking any medications, or undergoing any treatments, that is a different story and one you’ll need to discuss with your doctor first. Otherwise, if permitted, enjoy yourself but responsibility….as most beer ads nowadays would also tell you.


It’s Always A Great Time To Quit Smoking!

We are all aware that smoking has nothing to do with improving health, or nutrition outcomes. It is in no way a health habit. But knowing the facts doesn’t make quitting any easier. It’s true that smoking is the most preventable disease across the globe and is the direct cause of over 480,000 lives in the U.S. alone each year.

I posted the following bullet points in my 2021 October Respiratory Month but the information bears repeating. The human body is pretty amazing with what it can do and the health improvements that take place shortly after you quit smoking.

  • After the first 20 minutes: your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the nicotine-induced spikes.

  • After 12 hours: the carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal.

  • After two weeks: your circulation and lung function begin to improve.

  • After one to nine months: clear and deeper breathing gradually returns; you have less coughing and shortness of breath; you regain the ability to cough productively instead of hacking, which cleans your lungs and reduces your risk of infection.

  • After one year: your risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by 50 percent.

The Importance of Exercise…At Any Stage

Physical activity has been proven to manage weight. Being overweight is an important cancer risk factor. Being overweight or obese has even been scientifically linked to an increased risk of many types of cancer, including endometrial, esophageal, liver, pancreas and breast cancers. There's also increasing evidence that being overweight may lead to a higher risk of cancer recurrence and even cancer-related death.

Not that you should start training for that marathon just yet but there are lots of variations and intervals of exercise to engage in. Don’t push or judge yourself, just do. With all those health benefits, today is a great day to start.

Exercise Guidelines

The physical activity guidelines for people with cancer are similar to those recommended for everyone: 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity every week. If that’s a bit too much for your current level, not a problem, try one of these suggestions below from MayoClinic.

  • If you can't start at 150 minutes a week, be as active as you are able.

  • Once cleared to do so by your surgeon, return to normal daily activities as quickly as possible after surgery.

  • Do some kind of resistance training (weightlifting, resistance bands) at least twice a week.

  • Stay flexible with regular stretching.

  • Incorporate balance exercises into your daily routines.

Doctors and researchers are learning more every day. It's getting easier to find cancer exercise trainers certified by the American College of Sports Medicine who specialize in working with both people undergoing cancer treatment and cancer survivors. Some documented benefits during treatment include:

  • Reduced depression and anxiety

  • Increased energy and strength

  • Reduced pain

Never give up. Just put one foot in front of the other and start your journey to a healthier you. Always go at your own pace and Remember….Health starts from the inside out….but also from the ground up!

To discuss more detailed information regarding the topics within this blog, or to inquire about customized nutrition plans, please reach out to Cathleen Winter at cathleen@wellnesswithincw.com


A Little About Me

My name is Mary DeBlasio, and I live in Silver Spring, MD. I recently graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics in May of 2021. I am very interested in mindful eating, and foods that correlate with the seasons. I am currently working as a WIC Nutrition Assistant in Washington, DC. All my information is backed by credible sources cited within the blog.

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, January 31). Alcohol and cancer. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Diet and physical activity: What's The cancer connection? American Cancer Society. (n.d.).

Home | dietary guidelines for Americans. (n.d.).

McDowell, S. (2018, August 2). What is cancer control? American Cancer Society.

Risk factors: Diet. National Cancer Institute. (n.d.).

Your secret weapon during cancer treatment ... - mayo clinic. (n.d.).


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