Cancer Awareness Month: Strategies for prevention


Cancer has deeply affected many of us at some point. It can be a very devastating diagnosis. It is estimated that:

  • 206,200 new cancer diagnoses and 80,800 deaths from cancer occurred in Canada in 2017
  • Lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer accounted for about half of all cancer diagnoses and deaths
  • About 1 in 2 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetimes and 1 in 4 will die of the disease

It is important for all of us to be equipped with as much knowledge and understanding of how to prevent and treat cancer. We need to be ready to inspire and instill hope in cancer patients. Many things can be done through alternative therapies that may not be known or thought of. It is well understood that prevention is the best medicine. Your ability to manage stress in your life dictates your health status. Stress caused by physical, chemical or emotional stressors increases cortisol levels in your body which causes acidity and inflammation in the body. This internal environment is a breeding ground for disease including cancer. Therefore, anything that decreases stress levels in your body should be adopted as part of a preventative or therapeutic lifestyle.

One such wellness practice is chiropractic care. Chiropractors are specially trained to detect and remove spinal misalignments that result from a stress response. The result of these spinal misalignments is known as the vertebral subluxation complex. Restrictions in spinal joint function change our proprioception, our sense of where we are in space, which increases the level of cortisol and inflammation in our body. Through chiropractic treatment, known as an adjustment, a chiropractor removes these areas of spinal misalignment, which creates an anti-inflammatory effect, reducing cortisol levels, balancing our hormonal system and improving our sense of well-being. While creating such neurological and physiological effects, those under chiropractic care also report less pain, more energy and improved function overall. Everyone should adopt chiropractic care as a preventative and/or therapeutic health care service into their life.

Eat more plant foods to reduce your cancer risk

The American Institute for Cancer Research’s Third Expert Report declared that a healthy diet and lifestyle behaviours could prevent up to 40% of all cancer cases. Data from 51 million people were analyzed to create a blueprint for cancer prevention worldwide. The evidence was clear: consumption of red and processed meat increase cancer risk, especially colorectal cancer. The report was direct in its recommendations that no level of processed meat intake can confidently be associated with a lack of risk; that is to say, even eating mild to moderate amounts of processed meat such as sausages, salami, cured meat, beef jerky, hot dogs, deli slices, bacon, and ham increases cancer risk. Fortunately, the report also included ways to reduce cancer risk, such as eating a predominantly plant-based diet. Basing our diets around foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and beans will ensure adequate intake of fiber and other nutrients. Low fiber intake is a risk factor for colorectal cancer, and a diet that is lacking in essential nutrients is a risk factor for many types of cancer. A nutritious diet also boosts immunity, making it easier for our bodies to fight off disease.

Plant foods contain beneficial phytochemicals, also known as phytonutrients, which are chemical compounds that may help prevent many chronic diseases. Many epidemiological studies have suggested that a daily intake of these phytochemicals can reduce the incidence of several types of cancers. Scientists believe that they reduce cancer risk by protecting the cells from damage that can lead to cancer. Great ways to add more plants to your diet include snacking on fruit, making smoothies or green juices, choosing veggies and dip for a snack, serving pasta over a bed of greens, and having one small salad per day with your meal.

Basing your diet around plants and reducing or even eliminating meat consumption also has great benefits for weight loss. A study from Loma Linda University revealed that vegetarians have a lower body-mass index than non-vegetarians. Most interestingly, this was found despite both groups eating a similar number of calories. Maintaining a healthy BMI also reduces cancer risk, as being overweight or obese is linked to 12 different types of cancer.

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