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Lifestyle choices are thought to contribute to about 75% of all cancer cases. The strategies
you can adopt to lower your risk of developing the disease range from getting regular
screening exams to boosting your intake of cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Change in bladder or bowel habits.
Sore, scab, or ulcer that won’t heal.
Unusual bleeding or discharge.
Thickening or lump in the breast or anywhere beneath the skin.
Recurring indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.
Obvious change in a mole or wart, including bleeding.
Nagging cough or hoarseness, or coughing up blood.
Unexplained weight loss or fatigue.
When to Call Your Doctor
If you develop any of the symptoms of cancer, and they don’t go away on their own within two weeks.
Reminder: If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before taking supplements.
What It Is
Almost every cell in the body is replaced regularly, and within each cell is a code that
tells it how and when to multiply and when to die. Cancer occurs when something goes wrong with this process, allowing cells to develop abnormally and grow uncontrollably. As these cells proliferate and spread, they damage healthy tissue, blood vessels, and nerves.
Fortunately, in many cases the body is able to identify these changes and destroy the
abnormal cells before they become a threat to health.
What Causes It
Tobacco smoke, excessive exposure to radiation (from X rays or the ultraviolet light of the sun), some industrial chemicals, certain viruses, and some hormones all increase your risk of cancer. Heredity and dietary choices also play a major role in cancer risk: Excessive
amounts of fat, alcohol, and pickled and smoked foods may contribute to cancer, just as fiber, certain nutrients, and fruits and vegetables help protect against it.
Not everyone exposed to cancer-causing agents, however, will be affected by the disease. A major factor in the development of cancer appears to be the immune system’s ability to
detect and destroy free radicals, unstable oxygen molecules that cause cell damage.
Antioxidants, compounds produced by the body or derived from food and supplements, can inactivate free radicals and aid the immune system in eradicating early cancer cells.
How Supplements Can Help
Though not a substitute for poor lifestyle choices, supplements may help protect against a variety of cancers. Taking several antioxidants daily is the first line of defense. Vitamin
C with flavonoids play a role in preventing many cancers, such as those of the lung,
esophagus, stomach, bladder, cervix, and colon. Vitamin E may reduce the risk of breast,
colon, prostate, and possibly other cancers. Recent research suggests that antioxidants
protect against cervical cancer. In one study, women with cervical cancer had very low blood levels of vitamin E and carotenoids (such as beta-carotene and lycopene) compared with women who did not have the disease.
The mineral selenium shows promise as a weapon against a number of cancers as well. Taking
200 mcg of selenium a day was shown to reduce cancer risk by 39% and cut the risk of dying from the disease nearly in half in a study of 1,300 people. Because the participants were mostly men, more studies are needed to see if these results apply to women.
For additional protection, the nutritional supplements green tea extract and grape seed
extract may help prevent a host of cancers, including lung, breast, stomach, colon,
prostate, and skin. Though it’s not an antioxidant, flaxseed oil is important because it
contains compounds called lignans, which may protect against breast, colon, and prostate
If you wish, you can add the nutrient coenzyme Q10 and the amino acid glutathione, both of which also support the immune system. Take carotenoids only if you don’t eat many fruits and vegetables. These substances — which represent the yellow, orange, and red pigments in fruits and vegetables — help prevent a number of cancers. For example, the carotenoid lycopene (which gives tomatoes their red color) is particularly beneficial in warding off lung and prostate cancers.
What Else You Can Do
Don’t smoke or chew tobacco. Drink alcohol only in moderation.
Eat a diet low in saturated fat and high in fiber. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Shield yourself from the sun and wear sunscreen when outdoors.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
Schedule regular physical exams and screening tests, such as Pap smears, mammograms, and skin examinations. If cancer develops, catching it and treating it early increase your
chance of full recovery.
Eating plenty of tofu and other soy products may help prevent cancer. Animal studies show that a compound in soy called genistein blocks the production of certain proteins that help cancer cells thrive.
Getting an adequate daily amount of calcium may reduce your risk of colon cancer. The
mineral appears to neutralize bile acids in the colon. Without calcium, these digestive
substances can be altered by intestinal bacteria and then cause abnormal cell changes that may eventually lead to cancer.
Green Tea Extract
Grape Seed Extract
Dosage: 1,000 mg vitamin C and 500 mg flavonoids 3 times a day.
Comments: Reduce vitamin C dose if diarrhea develops.
Dosage: 400 IU a day.
Comments: Check with your doctor if taking anticoagulant drugs.
Dosage: 400 mcg a day.
Comments: Don’t exceed 600 mcg daily; higher doses may be toxic.
Green Tea Extract
Dosage: 250 mg twice a day.
Comments: Standardized to contain at least 50% polyphenols.
Grape Seed Extract
Dosage: 100 mg each morning.
Comments: Standardized to contain 92%-95% proanthocyanidins.
Dosage: 1 tbsp. (14 grams) a day.
Comments: Can be mixed with food; take in the morning.
Dosage: 50 mg each morning.
Comments: For best absorption, take with food.
Dosage: 100 mg L-glutathione each morning.
Comments: Take with food to minimize stomach irritation.
Dosage: 1 pill mixed carotenoids a day with food.
Comments: Each pill should supply 25,000 IU vitamin A activity.
Source:Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs (Reader’s Digest)