Dr. Oz recently aired a show in which he revealed the facts about some cancer mis-information that is commonly accepted when in fact knowing the truth may save our lives. Dr. Oz, along with guest medical professionals, explain some interesting things about cancer that we may have been mis-informed. Like… We don’t get cancer. We already have cancer cells growing inside us. We provoke cancer. How many of us think cancer is not contagious. Well, it seems some cancers can be contagious! Cancer genes can be passed to you not only from your mother’s side of the family but from your father’s also! How can knowing the truth save our lives?
As Dr. Oz explained that when you know the truth and you know your risks, you can take advantage of the kinds of foods and activities that are known to be essential to prevent cancer from developing or to catch it early for cure. His three guest medical experts explain these facts…
We don’t get cancer. We provoke cancer. Dr. William Li, MD, Cancer Researcher, President and Medical Director of the Angiogenesis Foundation says that every single person absolutely has microscopic cancers growing inside them. He explains that human body is made up of more than 50 trillion cells that are continuously dividing to keep us healthy. But if just one of those cells makes a mistake or “mutates” than presto! we have formed a potentially microscopic cancer. The good news is that most of these abnormal cells will never become dangerous because our bodies have excellent defenses against cancer. Our immune system is one defense and another defense is our body’s ability to resist blood vessels from growing into and feeding cancers.
So, what causes these harmless microscopic cancers to develop into full blown cancer? Dr. Li says doing things that provoke the development of cancer! Like getting too much sun and exposure to cigarette smoke, first or secondhand. Excessive alcohol and too much processed meats. The body has a hard time digesting the preservatives and nitrates in processed foods and they actually accumulate in our bodies becoming carcinogen. Anything that dwells in the body that can provoke cancer cells is bad for you.
But on the other hand, as Dr. Li explains, we can actually add things to our life that can boost our body’s cancer defense systems. Like exercise and getting enough restorative sleep. And eating foods that contain anti-angiogenic properties (starving cancer cells) like fruits and vegetables with high nutrient and antioxidant compounds. Dr. Li even explained that Gouda and some other types of hard cheeses like Edam, Jarisberg and Emmentaler contain Vitamin K2, a special type of vitamin k which is a byproduct of the bacteria of the fermentation process of the cheese. This Vitamin K2 inhibits angiogenesis meaning it stops blood vessels growing into and feeding cancer cells, literally starving them. Read more about Dr. Li and the foods we should eat regularly that prevent cancer.
Is cancer contagious? Dr. Ilana Cass, MD Oncologist, Samuel Oschin Institute at Cedars-Sinai, says
there are certain bacteria and viruses that can cause cancer and these bacteria and viruses are contagious! Dr. Cass explains the following:
- H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori ) – affects about 30 to 40% of Americans. It’s most commonly a cause of peptic ulcer disease in the stomach but can go on to develop into stomach cancer. We really don’t understand how it spread. Most of the infection appears to occur in childhood and there are certain groups of people who are more at risk for H. pylori. There is not a lot of good data to show that treating H. pylori will have an impact on preventing stomach cancer. However, it can be treated with antibiotics.
- HPV (Human Papilloma virus) – affects both men and women most commonly those who are sexually active as it is basically passed along by sexual exposure. 20 million Americans have been exposed to HPV. About 5% of all cancers are associated with HPV which make it a very big health concern. Such cancers include cervical cancer, throat cancers, anal cancers, and penile cancers. Girls 11 to 26 should be vaccinated. There is some data that the vaccine may be beneficial to boys but as of today it is only recommended for girls.
- Hepatitis B – can cause liver damage and in a certain percentage of those patients with liver damage can develop liver cancer (Hepatocellular Carcinoma). There is a vaccination recommended for the entire population.
Should we limit our self breast examination to only our breast? Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron, MD, Susan G. Komen of Greater New York, says No! Breast tissue is found all the way up to the breastbone to down below the breast line and in the armpit area!
Dr. Richardson-Heron shared her personal story as a breast cancer survivor. She discovered a lump during her own self examination and knowing she also had a family history, immediately had it checked out. It was unfortunate it turned out to be cancer, but fortunate she found it early and can today help others some 13 years later. The following is her advice to us:
- Breast cancer can be cured if it is found early enough, so self examination is key.
- Remember, examine breast tissue all the way up to the clavicle (breastbone) and examine the lymph node area in the neck. Examine the breast and all the way down below the breast line and into the axillary area (armpit area).
- Do your self examinations at the same time every month. Hormonal changes at different times of the month may cause changes to your breast. Doing the exam at the same time each month familiarizes yourself with what’s normal for your breast at that time of the month.
- Look for any changes in the skin or nipple of your breast such as dimpling like an orange skin, pain or itching and an inverted nipple (pulling in). It may be a case of ‘Inflammatory Breast Cancer’, a very aggressive breast cancer that does not present with a lump. It’s more deadly and more common in African Americans. Not all doctors are familiar so if you have a concern, specifically mention ‘Inflammatory Breast Cancer’ to your doctor.
Dr. Richardson-Heron’s cancer prevention tip to us is to avoid grilled and pan-fried meats. That includes all meats; beef, pork, chicken and fish! She explains that the high temperatures of frying and grilling meats, especially to the point of charring the flesh, breaks down the muscle and creates cancer causing chemicals.
The National Cancer Institute suggest ways to reduce our exposure to these cancer causing chemicals.
- limit your consumption of red, processed and smoked meats
- avoid direct exposure of all meats (beef, pork, chicken, and fish) to an open flame or a hot metal surface
- avoid prolonged cooking times at high temperatures
- use a microwave oven to pre-cook meat to reduce exposure time to high heat cooking such as pre-cook before grilling.
- continuously turning meat over a high heat source compared to just leaving the meat on the heat source without flipping it often.
- removing charred portions of meat and refraining from using gravy made from meat drippings
Female cancer genes are not just passed on from your mother’s side of the family. Dr. Ilana Cass says these cancer mutations can also be passed to you from your father’s side of the family. If there’s a mutated gene past down, it makes a protein that doesn’t work properly and that can predispose or increase the risk of that person getting cancer. So it is important to know the family history on both sides of your family.
If you are a carrier of one of these genes it does not mean that you are automatically going to get cancer.
Dr. Cass explained there are strategies in place to deal with patients that are at risk. They have very effective techniques to screen people based on their family history. It’s also possible to have prophylactic surgery to remove organs so that people can prevent getting the cancer. Research is ever ongoing trying to understand why some people with a genetic mutation get cancer and some people don’t. There is a possible gene to environment interplay, which Dr. Oz explains means that your genes may load the gun but your environment including what you eat and your lifestyle is what pulls the trigger.
Dr. Cass’s tip for cancer prevention is to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight.
The regimen prescribed is vigorous exercise 45 to 60 minutes five days a week, but Dr. Cass says most of her patients would have trouble with that regimen. The data shows even moderate exercise will reduce cancer risks.
She advises 30 minutes of exercise with an elevated heart rate for at least three minutes 3x a week and maintain a healthy body weight. Avoiding being overweight or obese reduces any number of cancer risks.
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