October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and to be honest, the whole idea kind of irritated me. Granted, the Race for the Cure tends to raise a lot of money for cancer research, but I’m not convinced that money is going to the right places. We need more emphasis on nutrition and prevention, not on developing more ineffective, toxic drugs.
And then there’s the whole issue of pinkwashing — organizations selling products purported to support breast-cancer research when many of those products are made with chemicals that are part of the problem. For another thing, with the cancer rate now 1 in 2 people, I’m pretty sure most of us are aware of the devastating effects of cancer in one form or another.
What most people aren’t aware of, however, is how to prevent cancer in the first place. How our everyday choices increase our risk of coming down with this or some other deadly disease. How we are living in a world that is poisoned by more toxins than ever before, and those toxins accumulate in our bodies, manifesting as tumors and allergies and digestive disorders and all kind of health problems. According to a recent article on Huffington Post by Dr. Mark Hyman, tumors can grow for 30 years before they are detected. That means that 17 million Americans — maybe even you and I — are walking around with cancer cells in their body and they don’t even know it. So the time to get serious about cancer prevention is now, before it’s too late.
So if you want to fight cancer, here are a few things you can do that can actually make a difference. You’ll notice most of them are related to nutrition. As I noted in my recent post about the Gerson anti-cancer diet, a key risk factor for disease is nutritional deficiency. Hyman reports that in medical school, he learned that 70 percent of all cancers are related to diet. I’m willing to bet the actual number is even higher.
1. Say no to GMOs. The effects of genetically modified organisms in our foods are revealing themselves in frightening ways, but the FDA keeps telling us they are safe. Many countries in Europe have long banned GMOs. GMOs have been linked to pre-cancerous cell growth, liver damage, impaired immune systems, cell anomalies, and reproductive issues.
It can be difficult to avoid buying GMOs because the FDA does not require labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients. But if you are buying corn, soy, or canola and it is not organic, then it has been genetically modified.
2. Get involved. Visit the Health page at Change.org to learn more about health causes and sign petitions. Sign up for action alerts from the Alliance of Natural Health. It’s easy to add your name to a petition once you’ve signed up: just remain signed in on your computer and all your information is saved. It only takes a few sections to make your voice heard.
3. Vote with your dollar. Every product you buy tells manufacturers that you want more of it. Quit buying products made with preservatives or artificial anything (including sweeteners like Splenda or Aspartame). Read ingredients. If you don’t know what it is or can’t pronounce it, chances are it’s toxic. Don’t buy meat or dairy from animals raised with growth hormones.Buy organic. It’s not just healthier for you, it’s better for the planet. Pesticides and herbicides don’t just kill bugs, they kill the nutrients that your body needs to be healthy. And besides, organic food tastes better. If you can, buy from a farmers’ market or community supported agriculture group.
Download the Non-GMO Shopping Guide to learn which food brands have committed to using no GMOs in their products. If your grocery store doesn’t carry non-GMO or organic foods, ask for them!
4. Reduce your environmental impact and your toxic load. The health of our planet and the health of its inhabitants are closely intertwined. The more we pollute our air, rivers, oceans, and soil, the more those pollutants come back to us in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Reduce your carbon footprint as much as you can. Recycle. Take public transport. Buy sustainable or refurbished products. Use less. Share more.Re-evaluate everything you are putting in or on your body or using in your home. Avoid soaps, shampoos, moisturizers, and other personal care products containing preservatives, parabens, SLS, and other harmful chemicals. Use non-toxic cleaning products. Explore natural means of treating disease rather than relying on prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Choose eco-friendly carpet, furniture, paint, and other products when completing home-repair projects.
5. Quit being “polite.” Chances are you know someone whose health is at risk due to unhealthy habits. Maybe you have a friend who starts every morning with a bottle of chemical-filled Diet Coke, a co-worker who freely admits to never eating vegetables, or a family member whose dietary staple is preservative- and sodium-laden frozen dinners. Maybe you think they’re putting their health in jeopardy but you’ve kept quiet because you think it would be rude to criticize another person’s choices. Well, you aren’t doing them any favors by not speaking up. The standard American diet, full of processed foods, sugar, and preservatives, practically guarantees serious health problems eventually. Encourage your friends and family members to rethink their choices. Work on a diet plan together and support one another in your efforts to be healthy. Start by eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting down on processed foods. It’s okay if you start small. Just start somewhere.