Be Active Against Cancer: Diet and Lifestyle Tips

The conditions in which we live and work, and our 21st century lifestyles, influence our health and quality of life, increasing the risk of many chronic diseases, including cancer. Although cancer is a difficult and emotive subject, talking about it can improve outcomes at an individual, community and policy level. Many people know of the usual risk factors. Tobacco use is the most common risk factor, as well as alcohol which current trends show an increase in consumption which results in many more cancers, even more so in women. Overweight and obesity is increasing globally at an alarming rate, including among children and adolescents. Also of concern is the high proportion of overweight people living in low resource settings (two-thirds of the global total). Overweight and obesity is also strongly linked to increased risks of bowel, breast, uterine, pancreatic, oesophagus, kidney and gallbladder cancers. Rising rates of obesity will lead to increased cancer rates unless policies and actions are taken to improve people’s diets and levels of physical activity.

On the occasion of World Cancer Day, I am going to dispel the myth that there is nothing we can do about cancer. Research shows that, with a healthier diet and lifestyle a third of the most common cancers can be prevented. I will discuss lifestyle and food choices that can help prevent cancer.

You can join me either at East Sheen Library on the 4th of February at 2:30 or at East Sheen Primary School on the 12th of February at 6pm.

Be active against cancer School talk copy          Be active against cancer copy

If “food is medicine”, why not prescribe it?

Slide1

Published in e-hospice online on the 13th of December (click here)

People with a terminal illness often look for ways to help themselves. Dr Philip Lee, a consultant physician, who passed away in 2011 was treating people with metabolic diseases, many of who needed to make significant changes in their diets in order to survive. Following his diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer and knowing the therapeutic power of food, he changed his diet. See his video on the Help the Hospices website.

Dr Lee was an advocate of the consensus statement on nutritional care for palliative patients, now endorsed by many healthcare professional bodies to improve the training of staff in nutritional care.

Palliative care patients may also suffer from nutritional problems due to late consequences of cancer treatment, such as: anorexia-cachexia, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, abdominal pain and other digestive problems.  A recent conference at the Royal Marsden Hospital considered dietary changes to help these problems, along with other interventions, e.g. antibiotic treatment of small bowel bacterial overgrowth, a major cause of diarrhoea or sometimes constipation. The wife of a patient related how after admission to a hospice her husband’s low fat diet for fat malabsorption was ignored. The sausages and other fatty food he ate worsened his symptoms of diarrhoea and abdominal pain. She could not forget his experience.

Recently, a hospice patient disclosed that she drank her own rice milk because of her allergy to dairy products. When told this ‘special milk’ could be provided by the hospice, she was astonished. She hadn’t thought her dietary needs would be considered part of her care. Other patients in the hospice told us how wonderful they find desserts in small shot cups. With their reduced appetite, they could now manage these portions and no longer felt guilty leaving food uneaten.

Over 2,500 years ago, Hippocrates said: ‘Food is medicine’. Even now research into illness rarely considers food as a factor in our health or recovery. However, there is a greater awareness and evidence:

  • The ‘China Study’ by Dr Colin Campbell showed that diet plays a major role in our health.
  • Michal Pollen in his book In Defense of Food says “don’t eat something your grandmother would not recognise”.
  • Even President Clinton has become a vegan after 2 major heart operations (watch video).

Food is overlooked, taken for granted and people say, without checking, that there is no evidence for food as medicine.  As scientists, our duty is to resist any prejudgement, to delve deeper and ask the question: can nutritious food be prescribed as medicine? After all, this is what patients want.

Dr Eleni Tsiompanou, MSc Nutritional Medicine

 

Health – the greatest of human blessings

More than 50 people attended my talk last Friday, organised by the Stuart Low Trust.

The audience wanted to know how by their own efforts they could improve their health.

Food, physical activity, singing, music, the arts, lifestyle habits and having a spiritual practice, were some of the Hippocratic practices that I explored as ways to restore ‘balance’ and hence a more healthy condition in the body.

Slide1

“Physical Activity Needed in Order to Reap Benefits of Dietary Restriction”

Slide1

Research in flies points to enhanced fatty acid metabolism in muscle 
as a key driver of the lifespan extending process 

Fruit flies on  restriction (DR) need to be physically active in order to get the lifespan extending benefits that come from their Spartan diet.

If the same axiom holds true in humans, those practicing caloric restriction in hopes of living longer need to make sure they eat enough to avoid fatigue.

According to research at the Buck Institute, flies on DR shift their metabolism toward increasing fatty acid synthesis and breakdown, specifically in muscle tissue.

“Dietary restriction is known to enhance spontaneous movement in a variety of species including primates, however this is the first examination of whether enhanced physical activity is necessary for its beneficial effects,” said Buck faculty Pankaj Kapahi, PhD, who runs the lab where the research took place.

“This study establishes a link between DR-mediated metabolic activity in muscle, increased movement and the benefits derived from restricting nutrients,” he said, adding that flies on DR who could not move or had inhibited fat metabolism in their muscle did not exhibit an extended lifespan.

“Our work argues that simply restricting nutrients without physical activity may not be beneficial in humans,” said Kapahi.

The research was published in the July 3, 2012 edition of Cell Metabolism.

For more information: www.thebuck.org

http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/abstract/S1550-4131(12)00242-2