Adapted from Nutrients and exercise affect tumour development by Carla Martinez May 27 2022 and
Three pronged approach may reduce cancer risk in the elderly by Nadine Ekert June 7 2022 Medscape
In a Madrid Oncology conference researchers discussed an update on lifestyle factors and cancer.
Diet and lifestyle can have an influence on each of the successive stages that occur in the development of cancer: initiation, promotion and progression.
A deficit of certain nutrients is one of the factors involved in the initiation stage. Various deficiencies affect different parts of cell metabolism adversely. Such nutrients include folate, B12, B6 and B3, Vitamin C, Selenium, Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin D.
Aflatoxins from foods of vegetable origin are detrimental. The foods include cassava, pepper, corn, millet, rice, sorghum, wheat, sunflower seeds and peanuts, but the effect very much depends on how these foodstuffs are stored.
Added nitrates to foods such as processed meats and sausages because they become nitrosamines which affect cancer development. Natural nitrates in food however do not cause cancer.
Smoking causes 72% of lung cancer and 15% of all cancers. Eating processed meat causes 13% of intestinal cancers and 1.5% of all cancers. The most problematic foods for nitrosamines are cured meat, and smoked meat and fish. Cooking meats also causes polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons especially chicken.
Various cooking strategies will reduce the formation or dilute the effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Marinate mean in an acid solution for more than one hour.
Season meats and fish before grilling them. Good spices to use are: pepper, paprika, garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, clove, fennel, and star anise.
Cook at a low temperature eg boiling.
Eat meats with lots of brassicas such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnip, brussel sprouts and mustard.
Grilled foods contain benzopyrene which can cause a mutation in DNA and thus cause cancer. Brassicas are rich in sulforphane which works on genes that produce glutathione s-transferase which promotes the elimination of benzopyrene.
Other factors that promote cancer include psychological stress, circadian disruption such as shift work, physical inactivity, obesity, hyperglycaemia, hyperinsulinaemia, gut bacteria disruption, and vitamin D deficiency.
The common factor here is increased inflammation. Some nutrients act as anti-inflammatories including the omega 3 oils EPA and DHA. Ginger, green tea, turmeric and broccoli all help too.
Daily rituals determine our health, so think about how you can optimise your routines.
The influence of exercise on cancer has only been studied in the last ten years.
Hypoxia is one of the main triggers of tumour aggression. Exercise has been shown to improve oxygenation and reduce hypoxia. Physical exercise in combination with chemotherapy has been proven to reduce tumour volume and progression. The best exercises in this regard are those that build up lactate in the muscle such as resistance exercise and cycling.
In the DO-HEALTH study, more than 2,000 healthy elderly people over the age of 70, were observed over three years. A combination of high dose vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids and a simple home training programme reduced the risk of cancer by 61% compared to placebo.
The risk of getting cancer increases as you get older. Apart from not smoking and sun protection, getting appropriate vaccines and screening, there is not that much left to do. As Vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids and physical exercise are all promising factors in cancer reduction, various combinations of them were tried. Blood pressure, physical performance, cognition, fractures and infections were looked at. They were divided into 8 groups looking at placebo, training only, and then various combinations and single interventions.
Most groups showed no difference from placebo but the combination of vitamin D, omega 3s and training did. The number needed to treat to prevent one cancer over the three years was 53 which is considered pretty good. Researchers thought the outcome was good enough to recommend this to any one over 70 who was looking to improve their health.