Some unscientific thoughts on cancer from the Greenhabilitator...
That's pretty much my first reaction when the topic comes up. I'm no doctor, nutritionist, cancer survivor - heck, I was never even good at science in school. So when "environmental links to cancer" came up as the topic of this month's Green Moms Carnival I was hesitant to step up to the plate and write about it.
I watched my father-in-law die from lung cancer just a few years ago and a disgusting number of my friends have been impacted by the disease as well, so I'm no stranger to the subject. I just don't feel like I have a great answer...but I guess no one does quite yet.
It seems like everything these days has a link to cancer. Before we started living a more healthy and sustainable lifestyle, I would wake up and pour a cup of coffee which may give me pancreatic cancer, but could reduce my risk of breast cancer. Or not. Of course I wouldn't want to switch to juice which we found out this week is linked to cancer due to the plastic bottles it's stored in. I'd suggest tap water, but some think that's just as dangerous.
After my morning coffee, I would jump in the shower, complete with cancer-causing vinyl shower curtain liner, where I'd rub chemicals into my skin in the form of facial cleanser, soap, and shaving cream. I know now how much these chemicals are absorbed through the skin. After my shower, I'd put on deodorant (which may or may not cause breast cancer), rub lotion all over my body and put moisturizer and make up on my face.
The more I learned about the environment, chemicals, processed food, BPA, pesticides, plastic, e-waste...the list goes on and on and on...the more my head spun. Every single thing seemed to be linked to some form or another of cancer. But there came a point where I could worry about all of the things that I was doing wrong, or I could just keep working on doing things right. So here are a few cancer-fighting tips I've learned over the past few years~
You are what you eat.According to the American Cancer Society, there is a direct link between dietary choices and 30 - 40% of cancers. Let's stop living on boxed food and start eating real, whole foods. Instead of bleaching, stripping and processing out all nutrients, eat the things that are whole, natural and good for you. Eat lots of good, organic fruits and vegetables and limit red meat. They say you should only eat things that your great grandmother would recognize and I wholeheartedly agree.
Watch your weight.
According to a review by the American Institute for Cancer Research of almost a thousand clinical studies, it is believed that healthier lifestyle choices can reduce the rate of breast cancer rate by 40%. That doesn't mean you need to be a size 4, but those with a healthy BMI are less likely to develop certain kinds of cancer.
Cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, lung and uterus have all been linked to exercise-related prevention. The University of Iowa explains that, "Exercise can help reduce obesity, which is related to the cause of several cancers. It can also change the body's hormone levels, which might also have a favorable effect. Exercise, by speeding up metabolism, is generally believed to speed up the passage of ingested foods through the colon--thus reducing the time the colon mucosal lining is in contact with possible carcinogens."
Get your rest.
A study in Cancer Prevention Research suggests that regular physical activity can lower a woman's overall risk of cancer – but only if she gets a good night's sleep. Otherwise, lack of sleep can undermine exercise's cancer prevention benefits. Your body does a lot of healing while you're asleep. Let it work its magic!
Everything in moderation.
Some studies show that alcohol is linked to cancer, while others show that a glass of wine helps to fight it. Coffee may be good or bad. Sugar is bad, but we love it so much. I don't think there's a reason to deprive yourself of any of life's little joys, but enjoy everything in moderation.
These ideas are certainly are not guaranteed to keep you healthy and cancer-free, but they're all proven ways to at least reduce your risk.
May you all enjoy long, healthy and happy lives!