By WellnessFX practitioner Dr. Jeffrey Edman
Dr. Edman spends his days making sure patients are not just healthy, but that they’re taking preventative measures for the future as well. There are plenty of additions you can make to your daily routine to ensure you’re doing all you can to stay healthy and prevent cancer and other diseases as you age. Here are just a few:
- If you are a type 2 diabetic and can’t reverse your diabetes (or while you are working on reversing it), take metformin. This widely used antidiabetic agent reduces the incidence of developing cancers of the breast, prostate, bowel, and others. While the data is somewhat less robust in non-diabetics, a trend for few cancers can be seen.
- Daily aspirin clearly reduces the incidence and death rate due to colorectal and other cancers. The suggested dose is one or two “baby” or (81mg) tabs daily. There also seems to be a significant effect on prostate, breast, and esophageal cancers. There is even data to suggest that aspirin reduces the risk for metastasis in breast cancer.
- Get a colonoscopy. For many years, the value of a colonoscopy to reduce the actual incidence of colorectal cancer was debated. However, a pair of studies in 2012 laid this debate to rest. A colonoscopy combined with a polypectomy (removal of polyps) reduces the death rate due to colon cancer by almost 50%. As I tell my patients, just do it.
- Get regular Pap smears to ward off cervical cancer. Perhaps no other test has such a significant effect on the reduction of a cancer. The death rate due to cervical cancer has dropped anywhere from 30-80% depending on the country since the introduction of Pap screening. The National Cancer Institue (NCI) website says: “Case-control studies have found that the risk of developing invasive cervical cancer is three to ten times greater in women who have not been screened. Risk also increases with long duration following the last normal Pap test, or similarly, with decreasing frequency of screening. Screening every 2 to 3 years, however, has not been found to increase significantly the risk of finding invasive cervical cancer above the risk expected with annual screening.” So, just do it. Every 2-3 years seems to be the consensus at this point.
- Get a mammogram. While this currently is controversial, I remain unconvinced about the suggestion of the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force that routine mammograms do not have to been done until age 50 and then not as frequently. The average age of menopause has been declining for decades. Menopause has long been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer and I am not comfortable changing the age for early detection at this time. Annual mammograms starting at age 40 is what the American Cancer Society recommends.
- Get your skin checked by a dermatologist. Numerous precancerous and cancerous lesions can be removed before they become problematic. In addition, dermatologists are experts at identifying the deadliest skin cancer, melanoma, in its early and highly curable stage.
- Make sure you are getting enough vitamin D. Numerous studies link low levels of vitamin D with an increased risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancers. Given the benefits of adequate vitamin D levels (osteoporosis prevention, decreased autoimmune disease, reduction in blood pressure, and decreased cardiovascular disease), this one is a no-brainer. Your levels should be 50-80 ng/dl. Get them checked. And while you’re at it, get your folic acid, B12, and homocysteine levels checked. Defects or inadequacies in the methylation pathway are linked to an increased risk of colon cancer.
- Eat a bunch of cancer-fighting foods. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, etc.) are packed with cancer fighting compounds. Antioxidant rich foods (blueberries, garlic, turmeric, artichokes) are thought to prevent DNA damage due to free radicals. Brazil nuts provide selenium, which also act as a powerful antioxidant. Selenium is often deficient in our diet and two Brazil nuts daily will replete just about anyone (also great for thyroid regulation).
- Drink or ingest green tea. Green tea contains a multipurpose compound called EGCG. Consumption of EGCG is linked to a lower risk of colon, skin, lung, prostate, and breast cancers. I use a decaffeinated green tea extract containing 500 mg EGCG daily. It also helps you lose weight!
- Get those omega-3 fatty acids. Numerous studies have linked the intake of omega-3 rich fish with decreased incidence of leukemia, lymphoma, and other cancers. Besides, omega-3s are great for cardiovascular disease prevention and are a better anti-inflammatory than ibuprofen.
- Take a walk. There are many studies that link low activity levels or obesity with an increased risk of cancer. A simple 30-minute walk can reduce your tendency toward diabetes and its increased risk of cancer.
There are many other ways to reduce your cancer risk, but the combination of a healthy lifestyle, weight control, proper nutrition, being screened for colon, breast, cervical, and skin cancer, and taking a walk a day could do quite a bit to reduce your risk for this dreaded disease.
As a physician, scientist, and teacher, Dr. Edman provides proven alternative approaches to the prevention and treatment of disease. He specializes in the evaluation and treatment of fatigue, thyroid, adrenal, allergic and weight issues. Dr. Edman was trained in traditional (allopathic) medicine. However, through his personal journey, research, and training, he has come to embrace an integrative approach to the prevention and treatment of disease. Dr. Edman is also one of WellnessFX’s prized practitioners.
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.