An Ounce of Prevention

An Ounce of Prevention

I learned this week that another friend has cancer, reminding me once again that cancer is ugly and devious. Treating active cancer is a battle.

Gardeners, this is very much like the battle of the squash beetles in your vegetable garden. If you catch them at the very first sign you can save your crop pretty easily. But once they run rampant there may be no effective treatment and your plants will eventually die. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure both in gardening and cancer. .

In my most recent published article, Technology is Making a Difference in Cancer,  I applauded the amazing progress happening in cancer treatments. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t painful, both physically and financially. And, worse yet, all that pain is no guarantee of success. Cancer is ugly and devious. Not fair but true.

This fact makes it so obvious that the answer is in prevention. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

In March of last year, I posted another article  entitled “Treat and Prevent Cancer.” Click on the link and watch an excellent video covering all the bases. If there is any fear in your heart about cancer, watch that video.

One of the most potent prevention strategies lies in what we eat. Why? Because the nutrients in the food you are (or aren’t) eating are absolutely essential for the cell and DNA repair that keeps cancer from starting.

As pointed out in both the referenced articles, cancer develops from cells that are damaged. The trillions and trillions of cells in your body have a short life span and are in a constant state of replacement. It is impossible to avoid damaged cells.

Chemical toxins in your world and just being alive both damage cells. But when things are working correctly in your body damaged cells are either repaired or they die as a natural course in a process called apoptosis or programmed cell death.

If the cell isn’t repaired or doesn’t die, the cell with the damaged DNA will be replicated and the DNA mutation becomes permanent. Cancer is a disease of mutated DNA.

This where the real trouble starts. You aren’t going to see that trouble right away. It can take eight years for a cancer to become pea sized. That means prevention starts NOW, not when the tumor becomes obvious.

So let’s look at some specific nutritional elements that keep our cancer defense mechanisms working at their best.

Programmed cell death is activated by tumor suppressor genes hanging around in your cells looking for damage. Certain phytonutrients with long names present in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, even arugula  all increase the activity of tumor surpressor genes. And, FYI, broccoli is the big winner in that list.

DNA repair requires a group of repair enzymes, all of which need to be coupled with the mineral magnesium in order to work. Magnesium is found in the chlorophyll of green, leafy vegetables, the very same vegetables listed above. Over 50% of Americans are deficient in magnesium and for good reason. We seem to prefer potatoes, preferably fried. When I ask children for examples of vegetables, potato is the first named.

Take note. The magnesium and phytonutrients with a critical role in cancer prevention are in exactly the same vegetables. Replace the processed foods, including sugar, in your diet with as many servings of these vegetables as possible every day. And in case you are wondering where the rest of your vitamins and minerals will come from, rest easy.  They are also in the same vegetables. Isn’t nature grand!

Eat right, defend yourself against cancer.