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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Simple Steps for Cancer Prevention: Adding them to your daily routine is easy, says Dr. Jonathan Psenka

Feb 01, 2013 03:57PM ● By Jonathan Psenka, NMD

February has been designated as National Cancer Prevention Month. Many cancers are preventable and in 2012 alone it has been estimated that about 200,000 cancer deaths in the U.S. could have been prevented. While there is much more to a cancer prevention plan than not smoking, it is not difficult to incorporate it into your day-to-day routine.

The official estimates concerning cancer prevention are that about one-third of U.S. cancer deaths are related to obesity, physical inactivity and poor nutrition. Some common cancers are more sensitive to prevention measures than others. The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has reported that in the U.S., 70 percent of endometrial cancers, 69 percent of esophageal cancers, 47 percent of stomach cancers, 45 percent of colorectal cancers, 39 percent of pancreatic cancers and 38 percent of breast cancers could be prevented if people ate a healthy diet, exercised and maintained a healthy body weight. Even cancers that have not yet been completely proven by research to be preventable, such as prostate cancer, are beginning to accumulate data supporting the effectiveness of lifestyle-related prevention efforts.

The first step in a cancer prevention plan is to stop smoking. For many people, this is not an easy thing to do. While quitting after being diagnosed does confer a small survival benefit, quitting earlier and never being diagnosed confers a much greater benefit. There are many resources to help people quit smoking, such as, a website devoted to providing resources for people trying to quit. Some people have found benefit from therapies such as acupuncture while kicking the habit.

A good second step is to assess one’s diet. When asked about their diet, many people with cancer answer, “Well I eat a lot of vegetables now.” The average American consumes three half-cup servings of fruits and vegetables per day when potatoes are excluded. The key to a good prevention program is to start eating a vegetable-based diet now. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends between two-and-a-half and six-and-a-half cups of fruits and vegetables per day, depending on one’s metabolic rate. Again, potatoes are excluded from this recommended intake because they are more of a starch than vegetable and should be used sparingly. Non-starchy vegetables such as lettuce and other leafy greens, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, garlic and onions contain powerful cancer-fighting chemicals and should be used liberally.

Additionally, asking a physician to measure body mass index (BMI) and resting metabolic rate (RMR) can be helpful when assessing any diet. The BMI is a number calculated from a person’s height and weight that is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal. A BMI of below 18.5 is considered an underweight reading, and those above 24.9 are considered overweight. The RMR is a measure of the energy expended at rest. The RMR can be used along with estimates of a person’s daily exercise and other activities to provide the actual amount of calories a person should be eating per day to reach their goal weight.

Starting a good exercise routine is the next big step in a cancer prevention program. The National Institute of Health suggests that all adults engage in either 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise five times per week or 20 minutes of vigorous activity at least three times per week. There are many ways exercise decreases cancer risk, such as influencing energy balance, hormone metabolism, insulin regulation, increasing bowel transit time, lowering stress levels and immune system stimulation.

When beginning a lifestyle-based prevention program, many people can receive great benefit from enlisting the help of a physician experienced in this area. Prevention programs can sometimes seem overwhelming at first, and having a personalized plan of action can help ensure long-term success.

Dr. Psenka works with integrative cancer therapies, IV therapy, allergies, ozone, UVBI, diet and exercise education for the treatment and prevention of disease. For more information, call 602-493-2273 or visit