There is No Cure Yet,
but Can Cancer Be Prevented?

The hopeful news is cancer is a preventable disease. It can be avoided through not smoking, eating healthful foods, and exercising regularly, according to a sweeping study by Harvard School of Public Health. Researchers at Harvard evaluated the entire body of research about cancer's causes and discovered the largest contributing factors to cancer involve lifestyle choices. Nearly 70% of all cancer deaths can be attributed to smoking, eating and drinking habits, or a "sedentary lifestyle."

The cancer prevention plan: Eat whole foods including "5 (or more) fruits and vegetables a day," and eliminate or significantly reduce animal protein, animal fats, hydrogenated fats, processed foods containing additives, preservatives, or pesticides. Daily aerobic exercise and stretching increases circulation and helps the body eliminate toxins stored in our tissues. For individuals whose lifestyles have included smoking, excessive drinking, poor diets, and sedentariness, extra efforts may need to be taken to restore the body to its fullest health. However the benefits of lifestyle and dietary changes can begin today.

Foods high in chlorophyll, vitamin A, vitamin E, selenium and vitamin C will significantly increase elimination of toxins and free radicals known to cause cellular changes that are the root of cancer and other degenerative diseases. Furthermore, the addition of acidophilus and bifidus is associated with improved immune function by rebalancing the natural intestinal bacteria. New research regarding an coenzyme called CoQ10 may yield further important knowledge about how the body naturally defends itself against cellular changes that eventually result in cancer.

Fifty years after the "war on cancer" was declared, there is no cure. But cancer prevention and recovery strategies through diet, exercise, and spiritual connection are rapidly becoming evident.

Part of the above info is taken from an article in the Boston Globe, November 1996.

Anti-oxidant = Anti-disease

By Stephanie Tuxill and Luita D. Spangler
Concord Feminist Health Center. Published originally in their newsletter, the Winter 1993 issue of WomenWise, and reprinted here with permission.

Some of the most recent health research, if taken and acted upon seriously, has the potential to profoundly change the scope and direction of the current health care system. Why? Because it points to an effective, primarily preventive, simple and extremely inexpensive approach to such conditions as cancer, AIDS, and atherosclerosis. This revolutionary new treatment? An abundance of fruits and vegetables in the diet.

Recent studies by the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public health and Harvard University have highlighted the important role that antioxidant nutrients in fruits and vegetables play, not only in prolonging the symptom-free latency period in HIV-infected individuals but also in slowing down the process of aging and in preventing cancer.

This is all related to the destructive power of "free radical" molecules: molecules missing an electron, which react with , bind to, and destroy cellular compounds in our bodies. Although free radicals may be environmental produced (from such things as cigarette smoke, radiation, and pesticides), most free radicals are toxic oxygen molecules actually produced by the body.

Just as oxygen binds with iron to form rust, the molecules in our bodies can also be oxidized and, in a sense, "rust." By reacting with lipids, proteins, and DNA, free radicals can cause damage to the body's cellular structure. The body's natural defenses against free radicals are called antioxidants. Antioxidants have the ability to neutralize free radicals by "donating" an electron to them before they cause damage to the cell structure. Most of this damage is repaired, but some is not, and if the free radicals are not kept in check they can overwhelm the entire immune system. Common examples of nutritional antioxidants include beta carotene (found in dark green and orange vegetables like broccoli and carrots), vitamins A, C, and E, and selenium.

Research has shown that one of the ways the HIV virus destroys the immune system is by altering the body's ability to respond effectively to oxygen free radicals. Studies of the blood of HIV-infected people show a decreased level of antioxidants and a decreased ability to create more. Changes also occur in the intestinal tract leading to less efficient absorption of nutritional antioxidants (Greenspan).

People infected with the HIV virus who start out with high levels of antioxidants in their diets, however, have a much longer mean survival time than those who do not. In addition, several preliminary studies have indicated that treating HIV-infected individuals with antioxidant supplements may improve the immune system even after infection. Other studies on healthy people over the age of 65 have demonstrated the effectiveness of antioxidant supplements in preventing and weakening such infection-related illnesses as colds and the flu (Blumberg and Chandra).

This approach, however is contrary to the current traditions of Western health care, which seek to treat and cure disease and its symptoms only after disease actually begins. This "after-the-fact" approach is elaborate, highly technical and extremely expensive. For example, current drugs used to treat conditions such as cancer and AIDS are often highly toxic, sometimes creating a need for additional medical intervention to treat the destructive effects of the original treatment on the human body. AZT, the only drug used extensively against AIDS, can cause serious liver damage, and almost all cancer chemotherapy amounts to controlled poisoning of the body.

Telling people to eat more fruits and vegetables fosters neither the high technology nor the high profit margins of contemporary medical science, but it does seem to promote health. The antioxidant vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, strawberries, kale, and kiwi fruit. Natural sources of vitamin E are nuts and vegetable oils, while green leafy vegetables, yams, sweet potatoes, and carrots are excellent sources of vitamin A. Some researchers suggest taking a vitamin E supplement to maximize its antioxidant effect but caution against the possible toxic effects of too much vitamin A and selenium, both of which should be sufficiently provided for in a healthy diet (Blumberg and Chandra).

Dietary sources of destructive free radicals include fried, barbecued, and char-broiled foods (that means mostly meat, folks). The high temperatures associated with this sort of cooking can lead to the formation of harmful chemicals associated with high levels of dietary oxygen free radicals: Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines (or HAA's). Grilled meat tastes grilled because it is coated with the smoke from sizzling fat; this smoke contains Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH's) which are also high in destructive free radicals. Both HAA's and PAH's have been identified as unquestionably carcinogenic (Tufts University Diet & Nutrition Letter, Sept. 1993). Dietary free radicals are also present in alcohol and coffee. Environmental free radicals are strongly associated with environmental pollution.

What all this means is that if we stop destroying the environment and eat more fruits and vegetables, we'll live longer, healthier lives. Amazing.


Baker, D.H. and R.J. Wood. "Cellular antioxidant status and human immunodeficiency virus replication." Nutrition Reviews 50 (1992), 1: 15-18.

Blumberg, Jeffrey B. and Ranjit Chandra. "Pumping Immunity." Nutrition Action Healthletter, April, 1993: 5-7.

Greenspan, Howard. "The Role of Reactive Oxygen Species, Antioxidants, and Phyto pharmaceuticals in Human Immunodeficiency Virus Activity." Medical Hypotheses 40 (1993) 2: 85-92.

Recer, Paul. "Nutrients may be an AIDS key." Concord Monitor. 11 Nov 1993, A10.

Staal, Frank J.T. "Antioxidants Inhibit Stimulation of HIV Transcription." AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses 40 (1993), 4: 229-306.

Stephanie Tuxill is a recent graduate from Dartmouth College. Luita D. Spangler, who impatiently awaits the revolution, is Reviews & Poetry Editor of WomenWise. Reprinted here with permission.

Books with more info:
Spontaneous Healing by Andrew Weil,
Alternative Medicine, The Definitive Guide to Cancer by Karl Volkers

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