cancer prevention Archives - NFCR

cancer prevention

National Cancer Control Month: Smoking Prevention and Cessation

The new age of cancer prevention has begun. People no longer need be subject to the deterministic paradigm of the past, where genetics ruled over lifestyle and environment. The fact is, 90 -95% of cancer diagnoses have their roots in environment and lifestyle. Up to 30% of cancer deaths are due to tobacco use, 20-35% are due to diet, 15-20% are due to infections and the remaining 10-20% are due to stress, radiation, physical activity and environmental pollutants. With more information than ever before and close to the highest rates of cancer diagnoses ever seen, the time for prevention is now. Given that smoking is the single most direct contributor to cancer, this aspect is of primary importance for prevention.

Smoking is one of the greatest barriers to health. It has been widely established as causative for various cancers, including cancers of the lung, oral cavity, larynx, esophagus, bladder, pancreas, kidney, cervix and stomach, as well as acute myeloid leukemia. Smoking disrupts the ability of the body to efficiently take in oxygen and transport it into the blood stream where it is a required substrate for our cells metabolic processes. Not only does smoking interfere with health function by diminishing physiological processes, it also adds carcinogenic materials into the body which actively promote pathogenic processes. Smoking cessation and smoking prevention are major targets in cancer prevention.

Personal finances and mindfulness are two important, under-rated aspects of smoking prevention and cessation. The simple act of engaging in budgeting or financial planning can reduce smoking by raising awareness of the financial cost of the habit. When people are aware of the real life sacrifices that are being made or would be made as a result of smoking, they are much less likely to participate in the act. In fact, the financial aspect of smoking is more effective than health education for smoking cessation and prevention.

Engagement in futuristic thought can also help people idealize themselves and their lives. This can increase their motivation for creating positive change by allowing them to connect to their aspirations for the future. In this process, it often becomes abundantly clear that smoking is a direct financial hindrance to future experiences including travel, home purchases, higher education and retirement.

Mindfulness coaching can also play a major role in reducing smoking. Mindfulness is defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.”

Mindfulness can help reduce smoking in numerous ways. It can assist in the recognition of habit-driven or secondary behavior-driven smoking. For example, smoking for a mental break from work, smoking right before bed to relax or smoking in the car. This type of smoking is mindless and driven by secondary influences. These behaviors can be recognized and more appropriate ones can be substituted. For example, walking outside to have a moment to clear one’s head can provide a healthy mental break. The addition of smoking to this behavior is not needed. Similarly, listening to calming music or a guided meditation before bed can efficiently help with relaxation. Finally, focusing on breath while driving can help people experience alertness or presence without the addition of cigarettes. In other words, the helpful act of mindful inhalation and exhalation, doesn’t require cigarettes.

Mindfulness allows people to recognize the primary motivator behind their behaviors. Smoking is generally not the most effective behavior to promote one’s desired experience. Often, smoking is habitually tied to helpful behaviors which are providing the real benefits.

Increasing mindfulness so as to experience the real implications of smoking can also be extremely motivating. This can be achieved by engaging in exercise, noticing the feeling of respiratory exhausting and, then, realizing that this feeling would be increased if smoking was introduced or decreased if smoking were reduced. In this way, mindfulness can help people bring attention to the experiential health consequences that smoking produces. The mindful experience of health compromise is more motivating than the conceptual understanding of the health compromise.

Finally, mindfulness can be a powerful tool in the process of quitting smoking. It can assist in recognizing urges before they are too powerful to overcome. It can help people identify smoking triggers within their external or internal environments. With this information, the reaction to the trigger can be controlled or the trigger can be avoided. Mindfulness can also support the addition of lifestyle changes which can combat some of the withdrawal symptoms. This may include regular exercise, increased water consumption, regular eating or even relaxing meditation.

 References:

 

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Two of Our Favorite Healthy Holiday Cookie Recipes

During the holidays, it’s easy to let your healthy eating habits slide. Tasty treats are everywhere – especially cookies. And they’re nearly impossible to resist!  To help during this copious cookie time, we’ve hand-picked two of our favorite recipes that offer a healthier take on your favorite holiday treats. These recipes use wholesome ingredients so you can feel good about snacking.

Give Pick-Me-Up Cookie Balls and Good-for-You Gingerbread Cookies a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Pick-Me-Up Cookie Balls

(Adapted from Kale & Chocolate)

INGREDIENTS:cookie-balls

1 cup cashews
½ cup pecans
½ cup walnuts
¼ cup goji berries
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp coconut oil
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp cacao nibs (pulse at the end)
Pinch of sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the nuts in the food processor and process until the nuts are in pieces but not a powder.
  2. Add the goji berries, coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla and sea salt. (Reserve cacao nibs)
  3. Combine all ingredients and process until a dough-like consistency begins to form, but there are still little chunks of nuts and goji berries remaining.
  4. Add the cacao nibs and pulse a few times to incorporate them into the dough.
  5. To make the balls: use a small scooper ( about 1 ½ inches) or roll 1 Tbsp at a time in your hands. Because the mixture is mostly nuts, it will feel oily if you roll the balls by hand. Make sure to pack the dough tightly against the scooper or in your hands before placing on a plate or tray.
  6. Put in the freezer for 30 minutes to set. Store in refrigerator up to 5 days or freezer for 2 months.

Good-for-you Gingerbread Cookies

(Adapted from Pheebs Foods)

INGREDIENTS:ginger-cookies

5 cups almond meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of Salt
4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
4 Tbsp blackstrap molasses

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well until the spices are evenly distributed.
  3. Whisk all wet ingredients in another bowl, adding the oil last to ensure it doesn’t harden.
  4. Pour wet mix into dry and mix well with a spoon until a dough forms – it will be a lot stickier then normal dough and a bit more fragile
  5. Turn dough out onto a well-floured board (using a small amount of white flour makes kneading easier).
  6. Form dough into a well-mixed ball. Cover in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  7. Once chilled, roll out dough to approximately 1/2 cm thick and use a cookie cutter to cut out your gingerbread men.
  8. Place onto baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes, longer depending on how crunchy or soft you like your cookies.
  9. Allow to cool fully before decorating.

For more healthy holiday ideas, read 6 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays

 

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6 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays

The holiday season is a time to celebrate with friends and family. Unfortunately, it can also be a time for overindulging, weight gain and even illness. So when you see the piled-up desserts or sugar-heavy side dishes, remember that research links certain cancers – including breast, prostate, colorectal, esophageal, endometrial, kidney and pancreatic – to obesity.

But don’t fret! There are some straightforward ways to enjoy festive food while putting your health first. Follow these simple tips for eating and living healthy this holiday season:

1. Swap it out

Creating healthier versions of your holiday favorites is easy – just swap out a few ingredients for more healthy ones.  For instance,

  • Replace white flour with finely-ground soft white wheat flour, almond flour or coconut flour.
  • Replace oil with unsweetened applesauce.
  • Replace refined sugar with maple syrup, agave nectar, honey or coconut sugar.

[Try our recipe for Superfood Cranberry Sauce that uses a smart swap so it’s not loaded with white sugar]

2. Indulge with healthier desserts

strawberriesSweets and treats don’t have to be completely off-limits.  You can choose desserts made with healthy, cancer-fighting ingredients such as:

[Did you know pumpkin has cancer-fighting power? To learn more, click here]

3. Go a little nuts

nutsSnack on a handful nuts before you go to a holiday party.  When you arrive to a holiday event with a full stomach, you will less likely overeat or over-indulge in sweets, alcohol, and other unhealthy foods.

Choose from almonds, walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts or pistachio- they all have great cancer-fighting power.

4. Consume alcohol in moderation

Although moderate alcohol use has possible health benefits, it’s also not risk-free.  Not only can alcohol impair your judgment, but excessive use can cause liver damage, heart problems, and even cancer.  To reduce your lifetime risk of cancer, men should not consume more than 2 drinks per day and women should not consume more than 3 drinks per week.

5. Keep moving

running Finding time to exercise – especially during the holidays – is no easy feat.  Go for a quick run or create opportunities to walk for at least 10 minutes at a time. When you have the chance to walk up and down stairs, do it – even offer to get someone else’s food or drink for them (cordiality points are a bonus)! Jumping rope is another quick way to get in an intense cardio workout in just a few minutes – plus, it can be done just about anywhere.  Regardless of how you do it, try not to stop moving around the holidays – exercise helps relieve holiday stress, weight gain and reduces cancer-related risks.

6. Stay germ-free

Colds and the flu run rampant this time of year.  Washing your hands regularly and urging others to do the same will help prevent illness.  Use warm soap and water whenever possible.  Get your flu shot if you haven’t already – especially if you have or have had cancer.

[Have you read What You Should Know About the 2016-2017 Flu Season?]

 

From all of us at NFCR, we wish you a safe, happy, wonderful holiday season!

 

Superfood Cranberry Sauce
(Adapted from Kale & Chocolate)
*Serves 8 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cranberries, washed
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup or coconut sugar
  • Juice of half an orange (about 1 ounce)
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Optional: grate in fresh ginger and/or add up to one teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

  1. In a medium pot bring water, sweetener and cranberries to a boil.
  2. Turn down to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the cranberries split open and most of the water has reduced.
  3. Remove from the heat. Squeeze the fresh juice of half of an orange into the mixture.
  4. Mix in the optional spices if using. Add the chia seeds, orange zest, and pinch of salt and mix. Allow the sauce to cool for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
  5. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
  6. Stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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7 Facts You Need to Know About Lung Cancer

With lung cancer continuing to affect the lives of so many people, it’s important to understand the disease and what we can do to improve our chances of beating it.

Background:

  • In the United States, an estimated 222,500 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year.
  • Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women.
  • More people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined, as it claims nearly 160,000 lives every year.

Here’s a list of seven facts you need to know about lung cancer. (And make sure you read about related work by NFCR-funded scientists Dr. Daniel Haber and Dr. Alice Shaw)

1. Targeted therapies are showing great promise in treating lung cancer.

If you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer, talk to your doctor about comprehensive genomic tumor testing. It is best to have this discussion before the initial biopsy, but it is never too late to discuss this with your doctor.

2. CT screenings can save lives.

Get screened using a low-dose CT scan- it’s the only proven effective way to screen for lung cancer.  X-rays do not detect lung cancer at it’s earliest of stages.

3. Smoking is the #1 risk factor….

Cigarette smoking is the #1 risk factor for lung cancer.  Smoking cigars, pipes and hooka also increases your risk.  If you are a current or former smoker, your risk of developing lung may be up to 25 times higher than someone who never smoked. Quitting reduces your risk, even if you’ve smoked for years.

In addition to causing cancer, smoking damages nearly every organ and organ system in your body.  Consider taking part in the Great American Smokeout on Thursday, November 16, 2017.  Talk to your doctor about strategies or stop-smoking aids that can help you quit.

4. …But, be aware, nonsmokers can get lung cancer too.

Roughly 10 to 15 percent of lung cancer cases occur in non-smokers.  Risk factors include:  exposure to radon gas, secondhand smoke, carcinogens like asbestos or diesel exhaust, air pollution and even gene mutations.

5. There are identifiable warning signs that can lead to early diagnosis.

Only 16% of people with lung cancer will be diagnosed when at the earliest stage, when the disease is most treatable.  If you are experiencing a chronic cough, coughing up blood, hoarseness, wheezing, frequent shortness of breath, chest pain, bone pain, or unexplained weight loss, talk to your doctor right away.

Also talk to your doctor if you have a family history of lung cancer – especially a parent or sibling.

6. There are different types of lung cancer. 

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, making up 80-85% of all cases.   Adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma and large cell neuroendocrine tumors are considered to be part of this group.

Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) makes up 15-20% of all lung cancer cases.  This is a fast-growing cancer that spreads rapidly to other parts of the body.

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of organs and can originate in the lungs or the abdomen, heart, and chest.  It is associated with exposure to asbestos.

Carcinoid tumors are a type of neuroendocrine tumor that can originate in the lungs or small intestine.

7. Cutting-Edge research helps us attack lung cancer head on.

NFCR-funded scientists are working around-the-clock on projects that can help us attack lung cancer. For example, in July, the FDA approved the drug Iressa® as front-line treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The approval is extended to only those patients whose tumors contain specific mutations, which were originally identified by NFCR scientist Dr. Daniel Haber. 

Also, thanks to NFCR-funded research by Dr. Alice Shaw, a new and better way to treat resistant cancers is emerging. By successfully identifying drug combinations that halted the growth of resistant cells in tumor models, her research will hopefully lead to the development of effective therapeutic strategies for patients with ALK-positive NSCLC (mutations in the ALK gene), which could be clinically tested within one to two years.

Read about NFCR supporters that help fund Dr. Shaw’s research projects.


This blog was originally published on November17, 2016

Please show your support by spreading awareness AND by taking action against the disease.

Support cancer research.  Without funding, we are not able to sustain our efforts to find a cure for lung cancer and all cancers.

Supporters’ Story

The Hillsberg Lung Cancer Translational Research Grant

Each year, about 8,000 patients in the United States and 40,000 worldwide are diagnosed with ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). And while patients typically respond well initially to targeted ALK-inhibitor therapy, unfortunately, almost all patients eventually develop resistance to these drugs and their disease progresses.

The lack of clinical development to address this issue caught the attention of two NFCR donors, Sanford and Penny Hillsberg, who are long-time supporters of cancer research.  They were determined to take action to solve this particular drug resistance problem. They turned to NFCR and established a donor-initiated research fund in 2013 to support promising research in this critical field.  Their biggest hope is that their partnership with NFCR will help accelerate the clinical development of new and effective treatments for those who have already run out of options for their resistant lung cancer.

“We are so happy to be part of this important research effort,” said Mr. Hillsberg.  “We have worked with NFCR for years, and we know their excellent track record of supporting high-quality science. That’s why we were excited to participate in their donor-initiated research model, which matched our interest in translational lung cancer research with some of the best scientists in the world. We know these efforts will benefit patients fighting cancer, and we are fully committed to continuing our support of the excellent translational lung cancer projects at NFCR.”

If you, too, are interested in establishing a donor-initiated research fund at NFCR, call us at 1-800-321-CURE (2873).

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7 Ways to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

The statistics are staggering. Today, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 8 for U.S. women and 1 in 1,000 for U.S. men. Although there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, there are things we can do to significantly reduce our breast cancer risk. And there are steps we can take to find it early- when it’s most treatable- if it does occur. Follow these 7 steps to minimize your breast cancer risk.

1. Know your family history- even your father’s.

You may be at a higher risk of breast cancer if you have family members (parent, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews) who have developed breast, ovarian or prostate cancer—especially at an early age.

Men and women with a strong family history of cancer may want to consider genetic counseling. Talk to your doctor or genetic counselor.

 

2. Watch your weight and give your body the nutrients it needs.

Maintaining a healthy weight throughout life and nourishing your body with fruits and vegetables can help lower risk of breast cancer. Studies have shown that women’s breast cancer risk is increased with obesity (being extremely overweight) especially after menopause. Obesity is probably a risk factor for male breast cancer as well.

 
3. Get moving!

Studies have conclusively shown that exercise can help cut down your breast cancer risk and even help breast cancer survivors live longer. So get out there and dance, run, swim, bike or walk. Exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes every day.

 Other examples of moderate intensity exercise include:

  • Cleaning such as washing windows, vacuuming and mopping
  • Tennis doubles
  • Mowing lawn (power mower)

 

4. Avoid tobacco.

If you’re a smoker, quit! Smoking not only causes many different cancers including breast cancer, it can also damage nearly every organ in your body, including the lungs, heart, blood vessels, eyes, skin and bones.

Smoking causes a number of diseases and is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer in younger, premenopausal women.

Avoid second hand smoke whenever possible—it can be just as damaging.  Research also has shown that there may be link between very heavy second-hand smoke exposure and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women.


5. Limit your alcohol intake.

Women should limit their alcohol intake to less than 3 drinks per week. New studies suggest that women who drink 3 to 6 drinks per week of any type of alcohol have a 15% increase in their risk of breast cancer.

Men can have high estrogen levels as a result of being heavy users of alcohol, which can limit the liver’s ability to regulate blood estrogen levels.

 


6. Avoid or limit Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Research has shown that menopausal women who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be more likely to develop breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about the different options to manage the side effects of menopause, and the risks and benefits of each.

 

7. Get screened.

Monthly self-breast exams and annual mammograms for women don’t prevent cancer, but they can help find cancer at the earliest stages when it’s most treatable. Please consult your physician for a specific screening schedule tailored to your risk profile.
Cancer research breakthroughs are constantly introducing new tools in the prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer. Support cancer research. Without funding, we are not able to sustain our efforts to find a cure for breast cancer- and all cancers.

 

 

Give a gift to support life-saving cancer research!

 

(This blog was originally published on October 21, 2016 and updated on October 18, 2017)

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7 Simple Strategies to Boost Your Health

When it comes to a diet rich in cancer-fighting foods, most experts agree that it should consist of a predominantly plant-based diet as fruits and vegetables. Since June is National Fruit and Vegetable Month, it’s the perfect time to incorporate more healthy eating habits into your daily routine.

Fruits and vegetables provide the essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and disease-fighting phytochemicals our bodies need to thrive. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help to reduce our risk of heart disease, eye disease, high blood pressure and stroke, ease digestive problems, aid in healthy weight management and prevent certain types of cancer.

Research has shown that maintaining a healthy weight throughout life can lower your risk of breast, uterine, prostate, lung, colon, kidney, pancreatic, esophageal, multiple myeloma, gallbladder, gastric, ovarian and thyroid cancers. Furthermore, people who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of many serious health conditions, including cancers. In fact, obesity is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking.

Although it may seem simple to follow the USDA guidelines and eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, less than 30% of Americans do it. Here are 7 simple strategies to boost your fruit and vegetable consumption:

1.  Keep fruits and veggies where you can see them. Whether you store your produce on the counter or in the fridge, placing them where you can easily see them increases the likelihood that you’ll actually eat them. To keep your produce as fresh as possible, follow these guidelines from Real Simple Magazine.

2.  Double the veggies. Most recipes call for a specific amount of vegetables. When it comes to something like soups, salads or casseroles, adding even more vegetables can enhance the flavor of your meal and boost its nutritional content.  Consider adding vegetable toppings to your pizza, sandwich or favorite pasta dish.  In these instances, more really is better.

3.  Blend a smoothie. Smoothies are a great way to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat. They’re easy to make and are a perfect portable breakfast and satisfying snack. Try our Green Goddess Smoothie. It’s delicious and nutritious!

4.  Eat a rainbow. Choosing a variety of different-colored whole foods throughout the day and week doesn’t just make for beautiful meals—it’s a good way to make sure you’re getting a variety of vitamins and nutrients that can help prevent cancer, as well as other health concerns.  The deeper the color, the greater concentration of nutrients and antioxidants. Try our Rainbow Salsa with grilled chicken or fish tonight.

5.  Go meatless on Mondays. Join the “Meatless Monday” Movement and replace meat with vegetables one day a week. Salads and stir fries are two ideas for getting tasty vegetables on your plate. Try our Brazil Nut Pesto served over for extra cancer-fighting power.

6.  Make a few simple swaps. Grab an apple or an orange instead of cookies or substitute cucumbers and baby carrots for crackers. Dip them in guacamole or to add even more fruits and vegetables.

7.  Roast away. If you aren’t a fan of raw veggies, try roasting some squash, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or eggplant. Long exposure to high heat will cause these foods to caramelize, which enhances their natural sweetness and reduces bitterness. Our Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash & Toasted Almonds is truly delicious.

Preventative Cancer Research

A proactive way to reduce the number of patients dying from cancer is to prevent the disease from developing in the first place. That’s why NFCR-funded scientists have been investigating cancer prevention methodologies – and specifically links between nutrition and cancer – for decades. 

Scientist Dr. Helmut Sies¸ whose work has been funded by NFCR for over 30 years, discovered that the antioxidant lycopene, a micronutrient found in tomatoes and other foods, can reduce the damaging effects of oxygen produced by our body’s essential metabolic processes. Lycopene has strong skin cancer prevention effects.

His most recent research has been focused on selenium, a trace metal found in certain foods that is essential for good health. There is evidence that selenium improves human health and helps prevent cancer – specifically colon cancer.  *Prevention tip: Read about how to add selenium to your diet.

Additionally, during his career, Dr. Sies studied essential fatty acids that can prevent inflammation and cellular signaling pathways in cancer development, and looked at the role of nitric oxide in cancer and heart disease-related events.

Dr. Michael Sporn, whose research was supported by NFCR, is known as the “Father of Chemoprevention” because his work led to the development of several synthetic triterpenoid compounds. These compounds are a class of chemical agents that have potent preventative effects against several types of cancer, including breast, lung and pancreatic cancers. For individuals with a family history (or are otherwise at high risk of developing these diseases), the promising results of Dr. Sporn’s research offers hope that their chances of developing cancer could be dramatically reduced with the use of chemoprevention.

 

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Simple, Sensational Cancer-Fighting Salsa

Snacking on salsa is a simple and tasty way to add cancer-fighting fruits and veggies to your diet.  With a variety of ingredients from tomatoes, jalapenos or habanero peppers to mangoes, pineapples, strawberries and even beans, salsa can spice up meal-time.

Salsa is not just a savory dip for chips or tacos- it’s also a delicious topping served over chicken, fish and even scrambled eggs.

Try our Sensational Salsa below. It contains two of our favorite cancer-fighting foods- tomatoes and hot peppers. Also give our nutritious, delicious Rainbow Salsa a try- you won’t be disappointed!

Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A, C and E, and the antioxidant lycopene, which may help prevent prostate, lung, and stomach cancers. Lycopene may also help reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Plus, there’s some evidence that cancers of the pancreas, colon and rectum, esophagus, oral cavity, breast and cervix can be reduced with increased lycopene intake.

The active ingredient in hot peppers, capsaicin, has anticancer, antiulcer and antibacterial properties. Lab studies have shown capsaicin to shrink prostate, lung, breast and pancreatic cancer cells. TIP: the hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. Bell peppers contain little to no capsaicin, while some varieties of habanero contain so much it would cause your skin to blister.

Sensational Salsa

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients

2-3 medium sized fresh tomatoes (from 1 lb to 1 1/2 lb), stems removed

1/2 red onion

2 serrano chiles or 1 jalapeño chile (stems, ribs, seeds removed), less or more to taste

Juice of one lime

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of dried oregano (crumble in your fingers before adding), more to taste

Pinch of ground cumin, more to taste

Method

  1. Start by roughly chopping the tomatoes, chiles, and onions. Be very careful while handling the chile peppers. If you can, avoid touching the cut peppers with your hands. Set aside some of the seeds from the peppers. If the salsa isn’t hot enough, you can add a few for more heat. (Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling and avoid touching your eyes for several hours.)
  2. Place all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse only a few times, just enough to finely dice the ingredients, not enough to purée. If you don’t have a food processor, you can finely dice by hand.
  3. Place in a serving bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. If the chilies make the salsa too hot, add some more chopped tomato. If it’s not hot enough, carefully add a few of the seeds from the chilies, or add a little more ground cumin.
  4. Let sit for an hour for the flavors to combine.

Fun Facts About Salsa

  • May is National Salsa Month
  • Salsa is the Spanish word for “sauce”.
  • In 2003, chips and salsa were designated as the Official State Snack of Texas.
  • Tomatoes and jalapenos are actually fruits, not vegetables.
  • For a list of 22 of the world’s hottest peppers, click here.
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6 Facts You Need to Know About Kidney Cancer


March is National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month and, as this disease continues affecting the lives of so many people every year, it’s important to understand it.

Background:

  • Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in both men and women.
  • In the United States, an estimated 63,990 people will be diagnosed with kidney cancer this year.
  • While the number of people diagnosed with kidney cancer has been slowly rising since the 1990’s, the death rate has been slowly declining.
  • The overall (all stages included) five-year survival rate for people with kidney cancer is 74%.[i]

Here’s a list of six facts you need to know about kidney cancer. And make sure you read about related work by NFCR-funded scientist Dr. Wayne Marasco.

1. Men are twice as likely to develop kidney cancer.


An estimated 40,610 men and 23,380 women in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed with kidney cancer this year.[ii] That means nearly twice as many men will be diagnosed! Yet the exact reasons for this difference are unknown. Possible factors include higher levels of chemical exposure and higher smoking rates. Men are more likely to be smokers and are more likely to be exposed to cancer-causing chemicals at work.[iii]

2. Kidney cancer most often occurs in people over age 55.

The risk for developing kidney cancer increases with age and the average age of diagnosis is 64 years old. Although kidney cancer is very uncommon in people younger than age 45, there is a type of kidney cancer, known as Wilms tumors, that tends to affect children. About 5% of all cancers in children are Wilms tumors.[iv]

3. Smoking and other factors increase risk.


Smoking has been linked with as many as one third of all kidney cancer cases.[v] And if you are a current or former smoker, your risk of developing kidney cancer is twice as high as someone who never smoked. Quitting reduces your risk, even if you’ve smoked for years.

Other major risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure and exposure to chemicals like asbestos and cadmium. In addition, people who receive long-term dialysis to treat kidney failure have a higher risk of developing kidney cancer.

4. Pay close attention to your family history.

Your family history may predispose you to kidney cancer. If you have a first-degree relative (mother, father, brother, sister or child) who was diagnosed with kidney cancer, you are at increased risk of developing the disease. This risk is highest for brothers or sisters of those with the cancer.[vi]

Also, people born with certain inherited syndromes may have an increased risk of kidney cancer, including those who have von Hippel-Lindau disease, Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome, tuberous sclerosis and familial papillary renal cell carcinoma.

5. There are warning signs, but not EARLY warning signs.

Like lung cancer, colorectal cancer and cervical cancer, kidney cancer rarely causes signs or symptoms in its early stages.

Possible warning signs or symptoms may include: blood in your urine (this may be painless and appear one day and not the next); back pain just below the ribs that doesn’t go away and was not caused by injury; weight loss; fatigue; or intermittent fever. If you notice any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.

6. Cutting-edge research is helping us attack kidney cancer head on.

Battling Renal Cell Carcinoma with Mabs

For cancer, as well as HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, one possible treatment involves the use of human monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) – which are proteins that scientists develop to bind to only one substance. For cancer treatments, Mabs bind only to cancer cells and produce immunological responses against the cancer cells. There is great promise with Mabs because their tumor-fighting effects would be less harmful to normal cells than that of traditional cancer treatments.

In an effort to greatly expand the use of Mabs in the treatment of cancer, Dr. Wayne Marasco— a world-renowned antibody engineering expert who works on infectious diseases and cancer immunotherapies — and NFCR joined forces to create the NFCR Center for Therapeutic Antibody Engineering. At the Center, Dr. Marasco collaborates with accomplished global cancer investigators in a joint effort to uncover new Mabs using his laboratory’s huge human antibody library.

Most recently, his team at the NFCR Center developed a combination immunotherapy treatment that holds promise for treating metastatic kidney cancer more effectively. The immunotherapy they have engineered includes not only the CAIX antibody that detects and binds to CAIX growth-promoting proteins on cancerous kidney cells, but also unblocks T cells to enable more rigorous attacks against cancer. Moreover, this double treatment approach could be adapted to treat advanced colon, breast, brain and other difficult-to-treat solid cancers using different antibodies.

[i]https://www.cancer.org/cancer/kidney-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
[ii] https://www.cancer.org/cancer/kidney-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
[iii] https://www.cancer.org/cancer/kidney-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html
[iv] https://www.cancer.org/cancer/wilms-tumor/about/key-statistics.html
[v] http://www.kidneycancerkonnection.com/
[vi] https://www.cancer.org/cancer/kidney-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html

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The Amazing Antioxidants in Artichokes

Often seen on menus in dips or on the top of salads, artichokes are a superfood in every sense of the word. They are a naturally rich source of vitamins A, K, C, B-6, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc.

Research has shown that artichokes can help strengthen the immune system, lower cholesterol, detoxify the liver and may also protect against cancer, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. Artichokes are high in fiber and can help ease digestive issues, reduce blood pressure and even eliminate hangovers.[i]

Cancer-Preventing Antioxidants

Artichokes contain the highest levels of antioxidants of any vegetable (polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanins among others) and are loaded with an army of beneficial nutrients that can protect the body from cancer.
One artichoke supplies 25% of the recommended daily requirement of vitamin C. Studies have shown that people with high intakes of vitamin C from fruits and vegetables might have a lower risk of getting many types of cancer, including lung, breast and colon cancer.[ii]

Artichokes are also a great source of silymarin, a flavonoid antioxidant that may help prevent skin cancer.[iii]

Adding Artichokes to Your Diet

It’s easy to start eating more artichokes — you can grill them, bake them, add them to your favorite salads or pasta or team them up with spinach to make a delicious cancer-fighting dip.

Super Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Adapted from a recipe by the Mayo Clinic Staff

Ingredients

  • 2 cups artichoke hearts
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 4 cups chopped spinach
  • 1 teaspoon minced thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 cup white beans, prepared
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream

Directions

  • Mix all ingredients together.
  • Put in glass or ceramic dish and bake at 350˚ F for 30 minutes.
  • Serve with whole-grain bread, crackers or vegetables for dipping.
artichoke-dip
Spinach-DYK-57407

[i] https://organicfacts.net/health-benefits/other/health-benefits-of-artichokes.html

[ii] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/

[iii] http://foodfacts.mercola.com/artichoke.html

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Top Nutrition Tips to Cut Your Cancer Risk

 

March is National Nutrition Month, so let’s talk about some cancer-fighting benefits of making healthy food choices. What you eat and what you don’t eat has a powerful effect on your health. Maintaining a healthy weight and nourishing your body with certain foods is key to good health and to reducing your risk of cancer.

Although there’s no one diet program that is right for everyone, it’s important to have some sort of healthy-eating plan. So, put your best fork forward with these five cancer-fighting strategies.

1. Know your healthy weight & maintain it

People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of many serious health conditions, including cancers. To control weight gain, it’s about knowing what weight is healthy for you and maintaining that weight. (No, a few pounds here or there shouldn’t lead to extreme dieting, but knowing yourself and your ideal body weight is key.)

Maintaining a healthy weight throughout life can lower your risk of breast, uterine, prostate, lung, colon, kidney, pancreatic, esophageal, multiple myeloma, gallbladder, gastric, ovarian and thyroid cancers.

2. Replace one processed item a day with real food

Processed foods aren’t just microwavable meals – the term ‘processed food’ applies to foods that have been altered from their natural state in some way (and it can be for a variety of reasons, including safety, aesthetic desirability and convenience). Ingredients such as salt, sugar and fat are often added to processed foods, which leads to the consumption of these additives at more than the recommended amount.

But a few simple swaps can make a big difference in how you look and feel – and can also help lower your risk of cancer.
* Grab an apple or an orange instead of cookies.
* Substitute cucumbers and baby carrots for crackers. (Dip them hummus for a tasty treat!)
* Replace soda with a glass of water or sparkling water. Water helps your body get rid of toxins that put you at risk for diseases like cancer.

(Bonus tip – the perimeter of the supermarket usually contains natural foods and the center aisles contain processed foods… so stay on the border to stay healthier.) 

3. Add superfoods to your diet

Superfoods are nutrient powerhouses that contain large doses of cancer-fighting antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
* Add dark green veggies like spinach, broccoli and kale to your salads and omelets.
* Snack on a handful of raw almonds or roasted pumpkin seeds instead of a bag of chips.
* Also, check out some of our favorite cancer-fighting recipes that contain superfoods.

4.  Limit red and processed meats

Research shows that people who eat more red meat (beef, pork and lamb) and processed meats (like bacon, sausage, hot dogs and salami) have a higher risk of developing colorectal and prostate cancers. Although there is not scientific consensus, the observed increased risk is often explained by the high iron and fat content in red meat and/or the salt and nitrates in processed meat. Additionally, cooking meats at a very high temperature can create chemicals on your food that may increase your cancer risk.
Need some red meat alternatives? Try some of our favorite cancer-fighting recipes like Rainbow Salsa (with grilled fish or chicken) and Pumpkin Soup (with a Garlic, Kale and Sesame Topping).

5. Reduce your alcohol intake

Although moderate alcohol use has possible health benefits, it’s also not risk-free. Excessive use can cause liver damage, heart problems and even cancer. To reduce your lifetime risk of cancer, NFCR recommends: On average, men should not consume more than 2 drinks per day and women should not consume more than 3 drinks per week

 

Preventative Cancer Research

A proactive way to reduce the number of patients dying from cancer is to prevent the disease from developing in the first place. That’s why NFCR-sponsored researchers have been investigating cancer prevention methodologies – and specifically links between nutrition and cancer – for decades. 

Scientist Dr. Helmut Sies¸ whose work was funded by NFCR for over 30 years, discovered that the antioxidant lycopene, a micronutrient found in tomatoes and other foods, can reduce the damaging effects of oxygen produced by our body’s essential metabolic processes. Lycopene has strong skin cancer prevention effects. His more recent research was focused on selenium, a trace metal found in certain foods that is essential for good health. There is evidence that selenium improves human health and helps prevent cancer – specifically colon cancer.  *Prevention tip: Read about how to add selenium to your diet.

Additionally, during his career, Dr. Sies studied essential fatty acids that can prevent inflammation and cellular signaling pathways in cancer development, and looked at the role of nitric oxide in cancer and heart disease-related events.

 

Dr. Michael Sporn, whose research was supported by NFCR, is known as the “Father of Chemoprevention” because his work led to the development of several synthetic triterpenoid compounds. These compounds are a class of chemical agents that have potent preventative effects against several types of cancer, including breast, lung and pancreatic cancers.

For individuals with a family history (or are otherwise at high risk of developing these diseases), the promising results of Dr. Sporn’s research offers hope that their chances of developing cancer could be dramatically reduced with the use of chemoprevention.

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