- Colorectal cancer: The importance of diet
- Radiation therapy
- Therapies using medication
- Physical, emotional, and social effects of cancer
- Treatment options by stage
- Remission and the chance of recurrence
- If treatment does not work
- Most Effective Natural Cancer Treatments
- 1. The Gerson Therapy and Juicing
- 2. The Budwig Protocol
- 3. Proteolytic Enzyme Therapy
- 4. Vitamin C Chelation
- 5. Frankincense Essential Oil Therapy
- 6. Probiotic Foods and Supplements
- 7. Sunshine and Vitamin D3
- 8. Turmeric and Curcumin
- 9. Oxygen Therapy and Hyperbaric Chambers
- 10. Prayer and Building Peace
- 11. Immune-Boosting Mushrooms
- 12. Keto Diet
- March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month.
- (1) Arch Med Sci. 2010 Aug 30;6(4):605-10. Epub 2010 Sep 7. Risk of colorectal cancer in relation to frequency and total amount of red meat consumption. Systematic review and meta-analysis. Smoli?ska K, Paluszkiewicz P.
- (2) Food Chem Toxicol. 2012 Feb;50(2):95-103. Epub 2011 Oct 14. Red meat intake-induced increases in fecal water genotoxicity correlate with pro-carcinogenic gene expression changes in the human colon.Hebels DG, Sveje KM, de Kok MC, van Herwijnen MH, Kuhnle GG, Engels LG, Vleugels-Simon CB,Mares WG, Pierik M, Masclee AA, Kleinjans JC, de Kok TM.
- (3) Fleischauer AT, Arab L. Garlic and cancer: A critical review of the epidemiologic literature. Journal of Nutrition 2001; 131(3s):1032S–1040S.
- (4)Shenoy NR, Choughuley AS. Inhibitory effect of diet related sulphydryl compounds on the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines.Cancer Letters 1992;65(3):227–232.
- (5) Milner JA. Mechanisms by which garlic and allyl sulfur compounds suppress carcinogen bioactivation. Garlic and carcinogenesis. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 2001; 492:69–81.
- (6) Russell WR, Drew JE, Scobbie L, Duthie GG. Inhibition of cytokine-induced prostanoid biogenesis by phytochemicals in human colonic fibroblasts. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006;1762:124–130.
- (7) Russell WR, Scobbie L, Chesson A, Richardson AJ, Stewart CS, Duncan SH, Drew JE, Duthie GG. Anti-inflammatory implications of the microbial transformation of dietary phenolic compounds. Nutr Cancer. 2008;60:636–642
- (8) Olive oil, diet and colorectal cancer: an ecological study and an hypothesis. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2000; 54:756-60
- (11) J Sci Food Agric. 2011 Aug 15;91(10):1849-54. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.4394. Epub 2011 Mar 30. Anti-tumorigenic activity of five culinary and medicinal herbs grown under greenhouse conditions and their combination effects.Yi W, Wetzstein HY.
- The new study on alternative cancer treatments
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- The bottom line
- Fight Cancer With This Giant Cancer-Fighting Salad Recipe
- How To Make The Giant Cancer-Fighting Salad
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- Chris’ Story: How a Vegan Diet Helped Me Conquer Colon Cancer
- Hospital Junk Food
- Skipping Chemo in Favor of Raw Fruits and Veggies
- Backlash From My Friends and Doctors
- Integrative Oncology Helped Me Change
- 5 Tips to Gain the Beat Cancer Mindset
- Six Ways to Lower Your Risk for Colorectal Cancer
- Risk factors you can’t change
- Colon Cancer
Colorectal cancer: The importance of diet
They advise patients to stay hydrated and avoid alcohol and caffeine, explaining that some types of medication may clash with these beverages.
But a previous study conducted by researchers at the Institute — which we covered on Medical News Today — indicated that those undergoing treatment for colorectal cancer had an almost halved risk of cancer recurrence if they drank four cups of coffee, or 460 milligrams of caffeine, per day.
As lead study author Charles Fuchs explains, “We found that coffee drinkers had a lower risk of the cancer coming back and a significantly greater survival and chance of a cure.”
Research published last year in JAMA Oncology suggests that a diet high in sources of fiber may improve survival rates for patients with stage one colorectal cancer. Eating whole grains was also linked to a better treatment outcome, the researchers noted.
Another study from last year notes that eating a minimum of 2 ounces (approximately 57 grams) of tree nuts — such as cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, and pistachios — almost halved the risk of colon cancer recurrence for individuals following stage three cancer treatment. Tree nut consumption also reduced the risk of death following treatment by 53 percent.
As for the risk of developing a second cancer following treatment, the ACS say that it can be reduced by making the same healthful diet choices advised for the prevention of a first cancer. These include maintaining a healthy weight, placing “an emphasis on plant foods” in daily meals, and avoiding alcohol intake.
In fact, Dr. Victor Moreno — from the University of Barcelona in Spain — and colleagues found that lifestyle factors are more important than genetic risk factors when it comes to the development of colorectal cancer.
“This is important, considering that lifestyle, unlike genetic traits, is somewhat modifiable.”
First study author Dr. Gemma Ibáñez
This suggests that a “revamp” of personal health choices may go a long way toward supporting positive outcomes.
Many people need to retrain their bowel after surgery. This may take some time and assistance. You should talk with your doctor if you do not regain good control of bowel function.
Learn more about the basics of cancer surgery.
Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells. It is commonly used for treating rectal cancer because this tumor tends to recur near where it originally started. A doctor who specializes in giving radiation therapy to treat cancer is called a radiation oncologist. A radiation therapy regimen, or schedule, usually consists of a specific number of treatments given over a set period of time.
External-beam radiation therapy. External-beam radiation therapy uses a machine to deliver x-rays to where the cancer is located. Radiation treatment is usually given 5 days a week for several weeks. It may be given in the doctor’s office or at the hospital.
Stereotactic radiation therapy. Stereotactic radiation therapy is a type of external-bean radiation therapy that may be used if a tumor has spread to the liver or lungs. This type of radiation therapy delivers a large, precise radiation dose to a small area. This technique can help save parts of the liver and lung tissue that might otherwise have to be removed during surgery. However, not all cancers that have spread to the liver or lungs can be treated in this way.
Other types of radiation therapy. For some people, specialized radiation therapy techniques, such as intraoperative radiation therapy or brachytherapy, may help get rid of small areas of cancer that can not be removed with surgery.
Intraoperative radiation therapy. Intraoperative radiation therapy uses a single, high dose of radiation therapy given during surgery.
Brachytherapy. Brachytherapy is the use of radioactive “seeds” placed inside the body. In 1 type of brachytherapy with a product called SIR-Spheres, tiny amounts of a radioactive substance called yttrium-90 are injected into the liver to treat colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver when surgery is not an option. Limited information is available about how effective this approach is, but some studies suggest that it may help slow the growth of cancer cells.
Radiation therapy for rectal cancer. For rectal cancer, radiation therapy may be used before surgery, called neoadjuvant therapy, to shrink the tumor so that it is easier to remove. It may also be used after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells. Both approaches have worked to treat this disease. Chemotherapy is often given at the same time as radiation therapy, called chemoradiation therapy, to increase the effectiveness of the radiation therapy.
Chemoradiation therapy is often used in rectal cancer before surgery to avoid colostomy or reduce the chance that the cancer will recur. One study found that chemoradiation therapy before surgery worked better and caused fewer side effects than the same radiation therapy and chemotherapy given after surgery. The main benefits included a lower rate of the cancer coming back in the area where it started, fewer patients who needed permanent colostomies, and fewer problems with scarring of the bowel where the radiation therapy was given.
Radiation therapy is typically given in the United States for rectal cancer over 5.5 weeks before surgery. However, for certain patients (and in certain countries), a shorter course of 5 days of radiation therapy before surgery is appropriate and/or preferred.
A newer approach to rectal cancer is currently being used for certain people. It is called total neoadjuvant therapy (or TNT). With TNT, both chemotherapy and chemoradiation therapy are given for about 6 months before surgery. This approach is still being studied to determine which patients will benefit most.
Side effects of radiation therapy
Talk with your doctor about the possible side effects of your radiation therapy regimen. Side effects from radiation therapy may include fatigue, mild skin reactions, upset stomach, and loose bowel movements. It may also cause bloody stools from bleeding through the rectum or blockage of the bowel. Most side effects go away soon after treatment is finished.
Sexual problems, as well as infertility (the inability to have a child) in both men and women, may occur after radiation therapy to the pelvis. Before treatment begins, talk with your doctor about the chances that the treatment will affect sexual health and fertility and the available options for preserving fertility.
Learn more about the basics of radiation therapy.
Therapies using medication
Systemic therapy is the use of medication to destroy cancer cells. This type of medication is given through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells throughout the body. Systemic therapies are generally prescribed by a medical oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with medication.
Common ways to give systemic therapies include an intravenous (IV) tube placed into a vein using a needle or in a pill or capsule that is swallowed (orally).
The types of systemic therapies used for colorectal cancer include:
Each of these types of therapies is discussed below in more detail. A person may receive 1 type of systemic therapy at a time or a combination of systemic therapies given at the same time. They can also be given as part of a treatment plan that includes surgery and/or radiation therapy.
The medications used to treat cancer are continually being evaluated. Talking with your doctor is often the best way to learn about the medications prescribed for you, their purpose, and their potential side effects or interactions with other medications. It is also important to let your doctor know if you are taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medications or supplements. Herbs, supplements, and other drugs can interact with cancer medications. Learn more about your child’s prescriptions by using searchable drug databases.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells, usually by keeping the cancer cells from growing, dividing, and making more cells.
A chemotherapy regimen, or schedule, usually consists of a specific number of cycles given over a set period of time. A patient may receive 1 drug at a time or a combination of different drugs given at the same time.
Chemotherapy may be given after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells. For some people with rectal cancer, the doctor will give chemotherapy and radiation therapy before surgery to reduce the size of a rectal tumor and reduce the chance of the cancer returning.
Many drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat colorectal cancer in the United States. Your doctor may recommend 1 or more of them at different times during treatment. Sometimes these are combined with targeted therapy drugs (see “Targeted therapy” below).
Some common treatment regimens using these drugs include:
5-FU with leucovorin (folinic acid), a vitamin that improves the effectiveness of 5-FU
Capecitabine, an oral form of 5-FU
FOLFOX: 5-FU with leucovorin and oxaliplatin
FOLFIRI: 5-FU with leucovorin and irinotecan
XELIRI/CAPIRI: Capecitabine with irinotecan
XELOX/CAPEOX: Capecitabine with oxaliplatin
Any of the above with 1 of the following targeted therapies (see below): cetuximab (Erbitux), bevacizumab (Avastin), or panitumumab (Vectibix). In addition, FOLFIRI may be combined with either of these targeted therapies (see below): ziv-aflibercept (Zaltrap) or ramucirumab (Cyramza).
Side effects of chemotherapy
Chemotherapy may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, neuropathy, or mouth sores. However, medications to prevent these side effects are available. Because of the way drugs are given, these side effects are less severe than they have been in the past for most people. In addition, patients may be unusually tired, and there is an increased risk of infection. Neuropathy, which causes tingling or numbness in feet or hands, may also occur with some drugs. Significant hair loss is an uncommon side effect with many of the drugs used to treat colorectal cancer, except irinotecan.
If side effects are particularly difficult, the dose of the drug may be lowered or a treatment session may be postponed. If you are receiving chemotherapy, you should talk with your health care team about any side effects regularly and ask which symptoms and side effects your doctor should know about right away. Read more about managing side effects. The side effects from chemotherapy usually go away after treatment is finished.
Learn more about the basics of chemotherapy.
Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells while limiting damage to healthy cells.
Not all tumors have the same targets. To find the most effective treatment, your doctor may run tests to identify the genes, proteins, and other factors in your tumor. This helps doctors better match each patient with the most effective treatment whenever possible. In addition, research studies continue to find out more about specific molecular targets and new treatments directed at them. These drugs are becoming more important in the treatment of colorectal cancer. Learn more about the basics of targeted treatments.
Studies have shown that older patients are able to benefit from targeted therapies, similar to younger patients. In addition, the expected side effects are usually manageable in both older and younger patients.
For colorectal cancer, the following targeted therapies may be options.
Anti-angiogenesis therapy. Anti-angiogenesis therapy is focused on stopping angiogenesis, which is the process of making new blood vessels. Because a tumor needs the nutrients delivered by blood vessels to grow and spread, the goal of anti-angiogenesis therapies is to “starve” the tumor.
Bevacizumab (Avastin). When bevacizumab is given with chemotherapy, it increases the length of time people with advanced colorectal cancer live. In 2004, the FDA approved bevacizumab along with chemotherapy as the first treatment, or first-line treatment, for advanced colorectal cancer. Recent studies have shown it is also effective as second-line therapy along with chemotherapy. There are 2 drugs similar to bevacizumab, bevacizumab-awwb (Mvasi) and bevacizumab-bvzr (Zirabev), that have also been approved by the FDA to treat advanced colorectal cancer. These are called biosimilars.
Regorafenib (Stivarga). This drug is used to treat people with metastatic colorectal cancer who have already received certain types of chemotherapy and other targeted therapies.
Ziv-aflibercept (Zaltrap) and ramucirumab (Cyramza). Either of these drugs can be combined with FOLFIRI chemotherapy as a second-line treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors. Researchers have found that drugs that block EGFR may be effective for stopping or slowing the growth of colorectal cancer.
Cetuximab (Erbitux). Cetuximab is an antibody made from mouse cells that still has some of the mouse structure.
Panitumumab (Vectibix). Panitumumab is made entirely from human proteins and is less likely to cause an allergic reaction than cetuximab.
Recent studies show that cetuximab and panitumumab do not work as well for tumors that have specific mutations, or changes, to a gene called RAS. ASCO recommends that all people with metastatic colorectal cancer who may receive an EFGR inhibitor have their tumors tested for RAS gene mutations. If a tumor has a mutated form of the RAS gene, ASCO recommends that they do not receive EFGR inhibitors. Furthermore, the FDA now recommends that both cetuximab and panitumumab only be given to people with a tumor with non-mutated, sometimes called wild-type, RAS genes.
Tumor-agnostic treatment. Larotrectinib (Vitrakvi) is a type of targeted therapy that is not specific to a certain type of cancer but focuses on a specific genetic change called an NTRK fusion. This type of genetic change is found in a range of cancers, including colorectal cancer. It is approved as a treatment for colorectal cancer that is metastatic or cannot be removed with surgery and has worsened with other treatments.
The tumor may also be tested for other molecular markers, including BRAF, HER2 overexpression, and others. These markers do not have FDA-approved targeted therapies yet, but there may be opportunities in clinical trials that are studying these molecular changes.
Side effects of targeted therapies
Talk with your doctor about possible side effects for a specific medication and how they can be managed. The side effects of targeted treatments can include a rash to the face and upper body, which can be prevented or reduced with various treatments. Find out more about skin reactions to targeted therapies.
Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, is designed to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses materials made either by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function.
Checkpoint inhibitors are an important type of immunotherapy used to treat colorectal cancer. Learn more about the basics of immunotherapy.
Pembrolizumab (Keytruda). Pembrolizumab targets PD-1, a receptor on tumor cells, preventing the tumor cells from hiding from the immune system. Pembrolizumab is used to treat metastatic colorectal cancers that have a molecular feature called microsatellite instability (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficiency (dMMR).
Nivolumab (Opdivo). Nivolumab is used to treat people who are 12 or older and have MSI-H or dMMR metastatic colorectal cancer that has grown or spread after treatment with chemotherapy with a fluoropyrimidine (such as capecitabine and fluorouracil), oxaliplatin, and irinotecan.
Nivolumab and ipilimumab (Yervoy) combination. This combination of checkpoint inhibitors is approved to treat patients who are 12 or older and have MSI-H or dMMR metastatic colorectal cancer that has grown or spread after treatment with chemotherapy with a fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan.
Side effects of immunotherapies
Different types of immunotherapy can cause different side effects. The most common side effects of immunotherapy may include fatigue, rash, diarrhea, nausea, fever, muscle pain, bone pain, joint pain, abdominal pain, itching, vomiting, cough, decreased appetite, and shortness of breath. Talk with your doctor about possible side effects for the immunotherapy recommended for you.
Cancer and its treatment cause physical symptoms and side effects, as well as emotional, social, and financial effects. Managing all of these effects is called palliative care or supportive care. It is an important part of your care that is included along with treatments intended to slow, stop, or eliminate the cancer.
Palliative care focuses on improving how you feel during treatment by managing symptoms and supporting patients and their families with other, non-medical needs. Any person, regardless of age or type and stage of cancer, may receive this type of care. And it often works best when it is started right after a cancer diagnosis. People who receive palliative care along with treatment for the cancer often have less severe symptoms, better quality of life, and report they are more satisfied with treatment.
Palliative treatments vary widely and often include medication, nutritional changes, relaxation techniques, emotional and spiritual support, and other therapies. You may also receive palliative treatments similar to those meant to get rid of the cancer, such as chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy.
Before treatment begins, talk with your doctor about the goals of each treatment in the treatment plan. You should also talk about the possible side effects of the specific treatment plan and palliative care options.
During treatment, your health care team may ask you to answer questions about your symptoms and side effects and to describe each problem. Be sure to tell the health care team if you are experiencing a problem. This helps the health care team treat any symptoms and side effects as quickly as possible. It can also help prevent more serious problems in the future.
Learn more about the importance of tracking side effects in another part of this guide. Learn more about palliative care in a separate section of this website.
Treatment options by stage
In general, stages 0, I, II, and III are often curable with surgery. However, many people with stage III colorectal cancer, and some with stage II, receive chemotherapy after surgery to increase the chance of eliminating the disease. People with stage II and III rectal cancer will also receive radiation therapy with chemotherapy either before or after surgery. Stage IV is not often curable, but it is treatable, and the growth of the cancer and the symptoms of the disease can be managed. Clinical trials are also a treatment option for each stage.
Stage 0 colorectal cancer
The usual treatment is a polypectomy, or removal of a polyp, during a colonoscopy. There is no additional surgery unless the polyp cannot be fully removed.
Stage I colorectal cancer
Surgical removal of the tumor and lymph nodes is usually the only treatment needed.
Stage II colorectal cancer
Surgery is often the first treatment. People with stage II colorectal cancer should talk with their doctor about whether more treatment is needed after surgery because some people receive adjuvant chemotherapy. Adjuvant chemotherapy is treatment after surgery with the goal of trying to destroy any remaining cancer cells. However, cure rates for surgery alone are quite good, and there are few benefits of additional treatment for people with this stage of colorectal cancer. Learn more about adjuvant therapy for stage II colorectal cancer. A clinical trial is also an option after surgery.
For stage II rectal cancer, radiation therapy is usually given in combination with chemotherapy, either before or after surgery. Additional chemotherapy may be given after surgery as well.
Stage III colorectal cancer
Treatment usually involves surgical removal of the tumor followed by adjuvant chemotherapy. A clinical trial may also an option. For rectal cancer, radiation therapy may be used with chemotherapy before or after surgery, along with adjuvant chemotherapy.
Metastatic (stage IV) colorectal cancer
If cancer spreads to another part in the body from where it started, doctors call it metastatic cancer. Colorectal cancer can spread to distant organs, such as the liver, lungs, the tissue called the peritoneum that lines the abdomen, or a woman’s ovaries. If this happens, it is a good idea to talk with doctors who have experience treating this stage of cancer. Doctors can have different opinions about the best standard treatment plan. Clinical trials might also be an option. Learn more about getting a second opinion before starting treatment, so you are comfortable with your chosen treatment plan.
Your treatment plan may include a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy, which can be used to slow the spread of the disease and often temporarily shrink a cancerous tumor. Palliative care will also be important to help relieve symptoms and side effects.
At this stage, surgery to remove the portion of the colon where the cancer started usually cannot cure the cancer, but it can help relieve blockage of the colon or other problems related to the cancer. Surgery may also be used to remove parts of other organs that contain cancer, called resection, and can cure some people if a limited amount of cancer spreads to a single organ, such as the liver or a lung.
If the colorectal cancer has spread only to the liver and if surgery is possible—either before or after chemotherapy—there is a chance of complete cure. Even when curing the cancer is not possible, surgery may add months or even years to a person’s life. Determining who can benefit from surgery for cancer that has spread to the liver is often a complicated process that involves multiple doctors with different specialties working together to plan the best treatment option.
For most people, a diagnosis of metastatic cancer is very stressful and, at times, difficult to bear. You and your family are encouraged to talk about how you feel with doctors, nurses, social workers, or other members of the health care team. It may also be helpful to talk with other patients, including through a support group.
Remission and the chance of recurrence
A remission is when cancer cannot be detected in the body and there are no symptoms. This may also be called having “no evidence of disease” or NED.
A remission may be temporary or permanent. This uncertainty causes many people to worry that the cancer will come back. While many remissions are permanent, it is important to talk with your doctor about the possibility of the cancer returning. Understanding your risk of recurrence and the treatment options may help you feel more prepared if the cancer does return. Learn more about coping with the fear of recurrence.
If the cancer returns after the original treatment, it is called recurrent cancer. It may come back in the same place (called a local recurrence), nearby (regional recurrence), or in another place (distant recurrence).
When this occurs, a new cycle of testing will begin again to learn as much as possible about the recurrence. After this testing is done, you and your doctor will talk about the treatment options. Often the treatment plan will include the treatments described above, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, but they may be used in a different combination or given at a different pace. Your doctor may suggest clinical trials that are studying new ways to treat this type of recurrent cancer. Generally, the treatment options for recurrent cancer are the same as those for metastatic cancer (see above) and include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Whichever treatment plan you choose, palliative care will be important for relieving symptoms and side effects.
People with recurrent cancer often experience emotions such as disbelief or fear. You are encouraged to talk with the health care team about these feelings and ask about support services to help you cope. Learn more about dealing with cancer recurrence.
If treatment does not work
Recovery from cancer is not always possible. If the cancer cannot be cured or controlled, the disease may be called advanced or terminal.
This diagnosis is stressful, and for many people, advanced cancer is difficult to discuss. However, it is important to have open and honest conversations with your health care team to express your feelings, preferences, and concerns. The health care team has special skills, experience, and knowledge to support patients and their families and is there to help. Making sure a person is physically comfortable, free from pain, and emotionally supported is extremely important.
People who have advanced cancer and who are expected to live less than 6 months may want to consider hospice care. Hospice care is designed to provide the best possible quality of life for people who are near the end of life. You and your family are encouraged to talk with the health care team about hospice care options, which include hospice care at home, a special hospice center, or other health care locations. Nursing care and special equipment can make staying at home a workable option for many families. Learn more about advanced cancer care planning.
After the death of a loved one, many people need support to help them cope with the loss. Learn more about grief and loss.
The next section in this guide is About Clinical Trials. It offers more information about research studies that are focused on finding better ways to care for people with cancer. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.
Have you ever wondered how effective natural cancer treatments can be? Around 20 years ago, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was crazy for my family at the time because my mom was a gym teacher, swim instructor and was always considered to be “healthy.”
After her diagnosis, she took the advice of her oncologists at the Cleveland Clinic and underwent a mastectomy followed by many rounds of chemotherapy. I can still remember seeing my mom’s hair fall out and thinking she had aged 10 years in the few weeks following chemo.
Praise God, after all of her treatments, she was diagnosed as being “cancer-free” and healthy. But for the next several years, she was sicker than she’d ever been in her life and struggled with constipation, candida, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Then, around nine years after her first diagnosis, a terrible thing happened: She was diagnosed with cancer again. At that point, I had experience working in the natural health field, so when I flew home, we prayed together and talked about the best healthcare strategy. She decided to pursue natural cancer treatments by focusing on diet and lifestyle changes.
My mom started following an all-natural plan that included vegetable juicing, probiotic foods, immune-boosting supplements, stress reducing techniques and prayer. And after only four months, the tumors on her lungs had shrunk significantly and one year after that, she was again diagnosed as being “cancer-free” and healthy. It’s now been 10 years and my mom recently turned 60 years old — and she is in the best shape of her life, regularly water skiing, running and still going strong.
I want to be clear: I am not claiming that what we did with my mother is a cancer cure. But I believe these natural therapies, either used by themselves or in conjunction with conventional medical treatments, may support the body in the healing process.
I am often asked, “What exactly did your mom do?” Here are the natural cancer treatments and strategies she followed to heal her body.
Most Effective Natural Cancer Treatments
1. The Gerson Therapy and Juicing
I see in him one of the most eminent geniuses in the history of medicine. Many of his basic ideas have been adopted without having his name connected with them. Yet, he has achieved more than seemed possible under adverse conditions. He leaves a legacy which commands attention and which will assure him his due place. Those whom he has cured will now attest to the truth of his ideas.
~ Albert Schweitzer, MD (Nobel Peace Prize Winner, 1952)
Who was Albert Schweitzer talking about?
He was referring to Dr. Max Gerson, the German-born American medical doctor who developed one of the most effective natural cancer treatments over 90 years ago. Coined the “Gerson Therapy,” Dr. Gerson helped hundreds of cancer patients activate their body’s extraordinary ability to heal itself by recommending:
- Organic, plant-based foods
- Raw juices
- Coffee enemas
- Beef liver
- Natural supplements
In the words of the Gerson Institute:
With its whole-body approach to healing, the Gerson Therapy naturally reactivates your body’s magnificent ability to heal itself — with no damaging side effects. This a powerful, natural treatment boosts the body’s own immune system to heal cancer, arthritis, heart disease, allergies, and many other degenerative diseases. (1)
How the Gerson Therapy Works
The Gerson Therapy targets the most significant metabolic requirements in your body. How? Believe it or not, this therapy allows you to reap the nutritional benefits of consuming 15–20 pounds of organically grown fruits and vegetables each day! Here’s the breakdown:
- The Gerson Diet – Consisting of eating only organic fruits, vegetables and sprouted ancient grains, the Gerson Diet is exceptionally rich in vitamins, minerals and enzymes. It’s also very low in fats, proteins and sodium. The meal plan advises cancer patients to drink 13 glasses of freshly prepared juice, eat three plant-based meals, and only snack on fresh fruits each day. Also, the traditional Gerson Therapy recommends consuming raw beef liver since it is the most nutrient-dense food on the planet and extremely high in vitamin B12.
- Juicing – According to the Gerson Institute, “Fresh pressed juice from raw foods provides the easiest and most effective way of providing high quality nutrition.” The cancer-fighting protocol calls for patients to drink fresh vegetables each day, including raw carrots or apples and green-leaf juice. To preserve the nutritional content, the juice should be prepared hourly using a two-step juicer or a masticating juicer used with a separate hydraulic press. This helps prevent denaturation — when vitamins, minerals and enzymes are destroyed. (Most commercial juicers spin so fast that they heat up juice to the point they are basically pasteurized!)
- Detoxification – The Gerson Therapy utilizes coffee enemas as the primary method of detoxing the body by increasing the parasympathetic nervous system. For cancer patients, this may take up to five enemas each day. The importance of keeping the body free of toxins is stressed by Dr. Gerson’s daughter, Charlotte:
The moment a patient is put on the full therapy, the combined effect of the food, the juices and the medication causes the immune system to attack and kill tumor tissue, besides working to flush out accumulated toxins from the body tissues. This great clearing-out procedure carries the risk of overburdening and poisoning the liver — the all-important organ of detoxification, which, in a cancer patient, is bound to be already damaged and debilitated.
- Supplements – The Gerson Therapy recommends the following organic medicinal therapies:
- Lugol’s solution
- Pancreatic enzymes
- Potassium compound
- Thyroid hormone
- Vitamin B12
2. The Budwig Protocol
Over the years, I have been given a lot of different advice as well, so when I heard about Dr. Budwig’s protocol I too was very skeptical, until I tried it. Numerous, independent clinical cancer studies published in major medical journals world-wide confirm Dr. Budwig’s findings. Over 40 years ago, Dr. Budwig presented clear and convincing evidence, which has been confirmed by hundreds of other related scientific research papers since, that the essential fatty acids were at the core of the answer to the cancer problem.
~ Robert E. Willner, MD, PhD (The Cancer Solution)
In 1952, Dr. Johanna Budwig was the German Government’s Senior Expert on lipids and pharmacology and was considered one of the leading global authorities on fats and oils. During her research, she discovered that many of the conventional processed fats and hydrogenated oils were destroying the membranes of our cells, and this caused diseased cells and toxicity.
Developing a specific diet — in this case, the Budwig diet protocol — to counteract this cancer-causing process, Dr. Budwig claimed to have had over a 90 percent success rate with her protocol over a 50-year period!
How the Budwig Protocol Works
When you replace deadly processed fats and oils with life-giving unsaturated/saturated fatty acids, your cells rebuild and are rejuvenated. Dr. Budwig found that consuming a mixture of cottage cheese, flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil had the best results. (2)
When cottage cheese (which is rich in sulfur protein and saturated fats) and flax (which is high in electron-rich unsaturated fatty acids) are combined this way, your body is able to absorb these vital nutrients easier and quicker.
My “Beyond Budwig” Recipe
Because of the changes in agriculture, I suggest this updated 21st century version of the Budwig Protocol:
- 6 ounces cultured dairy (cottage cheese, goat’s milk kefir or amasai)
- 4 tablespoons sprouted and ground chia or flax
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Mix all the ingredients together in bowl or blender and consume once daily.
For more details, check out the article and video I posted on the Budwig Diet Protocol for Cancer.
3. Proteolytic Enzyme Therapy
In 1906, John Beard first proposed that pancreatic proteolytic enzymes represent the body’s main defense against cancer. Beard focused on high dose porcine-based pancreatic enzyme therapy and eating a holistic diet to create an internal environment in which the body can more thoroughly heal itself. (3)
While it wasn’t researched for most of the 20th century, a few scientists picked up the concept in the 1960s. But it wasn’t until Nicholas J. Gonzalez, MD started to evaluate the concept at Cornell University Medical College in 1981 that people started to seriously consider this natural approach.
How the Pancreatic Proteolytic Enzyme Approach Works
The autonomic nervous system consists of the sympathetic (“fight” or “flight”) and autonomic (“rest” and “digest”) nervous systems. Basing his protocol off of Dr. Francis Pottenger’s research in the 1920s and 1930s, Gonzalez’s work centers on balancing these two systems, as they are suspected to be one of the major causes of cancer.
He discovered that a vegetarian diet suppresses sympathetic function, whereas the opposite is true with a meat-rich diet. So after dividing patients into different categories based of their metabolic differences, genetic and physical make-up, here are the recommendations:
- People with epithelial tumors like lung, pancreas, colon, prostate, uterine cancers are prescribed a largely plant-based diet with minimal to no animal protein.
- People with blood or immune based tumors like leukemia, myeloma or lymphoma are put on a high-animal protein, high-fat diet with minimal-to-moderate plant foods.
In addition, these physicians recommend taking 5 grams of proteolytic enzymes 3 times daily on an empty stomach between meals to reduce inflammation.
According to Dr. Josef Beuth, the research behind this natural cancer treatment is pretty airtight:
These studies demonstrated that systemic enzyme therapy significantly decreased tumor-induced and therapy-induced side effects and complaints such as nausea, gastrointestinal complaints, fatigue, weight loss, and restlessness and obviously stabilized the quality of life. (4)
4. Vitamin C Chelation
Chelation therapy uses chemicals or natural compounds to remove toxic metals from the body. The word “chelate” means to grab onto something, which describes chelating agents’ ability to grab onto toxins.
Generally, only holistic doctors and naturopaths use chelation therapy because it is not an officially “approved therapy” for most conditions in medicine today. When it is employed in the medical system, however, it is most commonly used to remove calcium deposits from arteries.
In a study published in Free Radical Biology & Medicine, vitamin C chelation therapy was found to be highly pro-oxidant after just one hour of treatment. This benefit lasted more than 16 treatments in the absence of nutrient supplementation and even provided “beneficial long-term antioxidant effects.” (5)
Pro-oxidation isn’t always good, but in this case it is.
It was discovered that, “Pro-oxidant effects appear to be responsible for destroying tumor cells. These pro-oxidant effects may also induce endogenous antioxidant systems in normal tissues that offer protection against carcinogenic insult!”
Along with vitamin C chelation, consuming more vitamin C-rich foods may also prevent and fight cancer. (6)
5. Frankincense Essential Oil Therapy
Dr. Budwig recommends frankincense essential oil (especially when it comes to fighting brain tumors). And now research trials highlighting frankincense’s potential canter-fighting abilities are filling medical journals. Specifically, Indian Frankincense (Boswellia serrata) has been shown clinically to being a potentially effective treatment for:
- Brain cancer
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Stomach cancer (7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
According to researchers out of Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, the potential cancer-killing effects of frankincense are due in part to its ability to influence your genes to promote healing. Baylor cancer scientists emphasize that this potency makes Boswellia serrata a viable candidate for both cancer prevention and treatment!
How Frankincense Essential Oil Therapy Works
Rub frankincense essential oil on your neck three times daily. Also, drink three drops in 8 ounces of water three times daily.
6. Probiotic Foods and Supplements
Best known as “good bacteria,” probiotics are microorganisms that promote a natural balance in your intestinal microflora. The best way to include probiotics in your diet is in their most natural state, which includes raw milk products such as cheese, kefir and yogurt.
Recent research has suggested that probiotic supplementation may be able to stop tumor growth. (12) And this makes perfect sense because 80 percent of your immune system is housed in your gut. In addition to supporting your immunity to disease, research has also shown that probiotics can improve digestive function and mineral absorption as well as aid in healing leaky gut, which all contribute to helping prevent cancer!
7. Sunshine and Vitamin D3
Science continues to support the fact that high levels of heart healthy, fat-soluble vitamins and minerals are key to keeping your body free of cancer. And recently, there has been considerable progress regarding the role that fat-soluble vitamin D3 plays in cancer prevention.
Research studies are mounting and a 2007 randomized placebo controlled double blind clinical trial suggests that vitamin D may be a highly effective way to help prevent cancer.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is truly groundbreaking as it evaluated nearly 1,200 postmenopausal women for four years and tracked how a 1,400–1,500 milligram supplement of calcium compared to a calcium supplement plus 1,100 IU vitamin D3 in preventing cancer. (13)
The results were amazing. After just one year of vitamin D3-added supplementation, the risk of developing all cancer types was decreased by an astounding 77 percent! Compared to the 0 percent improvement in the placebo and calcium supplement only groups, this is truly remarkable!
The Best Way to Get Vitamin D
To best prevent breast cancer, research suggests you should supplement so that your vitamin D3 levels are at least 40-60 ng/ml and up to 80 ng/ml.
The sweet spot you’re shooting for is 50-70 ng/ml. Here’s the best way to get there:
- Optimize vitamin D3 through 20 minutes of sun exposure everyday. This is best done by exposing 40 percent of your body to the sun between 10 am and 2 pm.
- Take an oral supplement containing around 5,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. Because they are fat-soluble, make sure that you take them with some healthy “fatty” foods containing coconut oil or a probiotic-rich drink like kefir.
It can be challenging to find a pure supplement on the market, so try to find a combination formula of astaxanthin, omega-3 fish oil and vitamin D3.
8. Turmeric and Curcumin
While the link between curcumin and disease reversal has been widely examined, the use of this spice in relation to cancer is one of the most thoroughly researched topics.
A number of laboratory studies on cancer cells suggest that curcumin does have anticancer effects. It seems to be able to fight cancer cells and prevent more from growing. It seems to be most effective against breast cancer, bowel cancer, stomach cancer and skin cancer cells.
In fact, a 2007 laboratory study showed that the combined treatment of curcumin with chemotherapy eliminated more bowel cancer cells than chemotherapy alone.
Other laboratory studies have also shown that curcumin interferes with cancer development, growth and spread. And researchers have reported that curcumin blocked the formation of cancer-causing enzymes in rodents.
Bottom line: Evidence suggests that in general turmeric works well to help stop cancer in its tracks and is especially effective at helping to treat breast cancer, colon cancer and skin cancer.
9. Oxygen Therapy and Hyperbaric Chambers
All normal cells have an absolute requirement for oxygen, but cancer cells can live without oxygen — a rule without exception. Deprive a cell 35 percent of its oxygen for 48 hours and it may become cancerous.
~ Otto Warburg, MD (Nobel Prize in Physiology Winner, 1931)
Dr. Warburg made it clear that the root cause of cancer is oxygen deficiency, which creates an acidic state in the human body. He also discovered that cancer cells do not breathe oxygen and cannot survive in the presence of high levels of oxygen, as found in an alkaline state.
We’ve all heard that antioxidants kill free radicals in the body and reverse oxidative stress-causing chronic disease. This is one of the reasons why I love to use blueberries in my morning Berry Protein Smoothie! But is eating blueberries enough to cure cancer?
Probably not. That’s why supplementing with oxygen therapy and utilizing a hyperbaric chamber is highly beneficial for people seeking natural cancer treatments.
Because the air pressure inside a hyperbaric oxygen chamber is about 2.5 times greater than the normal pressure in the atmosphere, it causes your blood to carry more oxygen to the organs and tissues in your body. Thought to heal everything from infected wounds to radiation injuries, many people claim that it has cured them of cancer. While it’s not quite mainstream yet, a growing numbers of hospitals have purchased some units to help their patients.
10. Prayer and Building Peace
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.
~ Proverbs 17:22
In addition to the many research studies that have been conducted on the healing benefits of prayer, maintaining mental peace and a positive outlook are absolutely critical to cancer prevention and treatment.
Some people utilize Eastern techniques like practicing tai chi or simply feeling gratitude, and these are highly effective in their own right. My favorite forms of meditation, however, consist of prayer, gratitude and reading the Bible.
Whatever your preference, make sure your focus is on living a stress-free lifestyle filled with peace and joy!
11. Immune-Boosting Mushrooms
Mushrooms have been used in Chinese medicine for over 4,000 years, and research regarding the cordycep and reishi species and cancer therapy has been pretty straightforward. They can:
- Potentially increase survival
- Help shrink tumors
- Boost your immune system
- Reduce radiotherapy and chemotherapy side effects like nausea and hair loss (14)
12. Keto Diet
A keto diet that eliminates excess refined sugar and other processed carbohydrates may be effective in reducing or fighting cancer. It’s not a coincidence that some of the best cancer-fighting foods are on the keto diet food list.
Of course, these results all depend on which extracts you choose and their concentrations. Some sources even suggest that supplementing with a complementary dose of vitamin C is also necessary.
March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month.
According to the Colon Cancer Alliance and the American Cancer Society, colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the US.
Colon Cancer is considered a PREVENTABLE cancer.
Why? Primarily because by changing our diet we can reduce risk dramatically. And if we get regular screenings (colonscopy), we will be diagnosed only with precancerous or early stage cancer cells that are easily removed and treated.
Here are 8 proven steps you can take right now to promote a healthy anti-cancer intestinal environment and fight colorectal cancer (bowel cancer) naturally:
Colorectal cancer is a “food-related” cancer. Everything you eat passes over the lining of your digestive tract. The lining of the large intestine and the rectum at the lower end of the digestive tube contains waste, digestive fluids, bile acids and fiber.
That lining is bathed by chemicals in food, your own hormones and secretions, healthy and unhealthy bacteria. The contents of your intestines has a direct impact on the health of the tissue it touches as it passes through. Colorectal cancer is directly impacted by your diet.
1. Eat Less Red Meat. Studies show that eating red meat “frequently” increases the incidence of colon cancer. Eating red meat daily, and especially more than one serving per day, increases risk.
Plant based diets show the lowest risk (1). Increased risk is associated with increased inflammation associated with chemicals released by digestion of red meat. These chemicals increase damage to and inhibit the repair of DNA (genetic material) in the cells lining your intestines. (2) Damage to DNA is a primary cause of all cancers.
2. Eat More Garlic. According to the National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet on Garlic and Cancer Prevention:
Preliminary studies suggest that garlic consumption may reduce the risk of developing several types of cancer, especially cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. Protective effects from garlic may arise from its antibacterial properties or from its ability to block the formation of cancer-causing substances, halt the activation of cancer-causing substances, enhance repair, reduce cell proliferation, or induce cell death. Garlic is high in the minerals sulfur and selenium as well as plant chemicals such as allicilin and flavonoids, all known to be beneficial to health. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines for general health promotion for adults is a daily dose of 2 to 5 g of fresh garlic (approximately one clove) daily. (3) (4)
Other food plants in this family with similar properties include onions, leeks, scallions, and chives.
3. Eat A Rainbow of Plant Antioxidants. The deep, bright colors of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices contribute a wide variety of antioxidants to the diet.
Examples of antioxidant rich, deeply pigmented foods are blueberries, cranberries, pomegranates, carrots, apricots, canteloupe, kale, broccoli, spinach, avocado, tomato, apples, red cabbage, red and purple grapes, pink grapefruit, tumeric, saffron, oregano, sage, and rosemary.
Color signals the presence of antioxidant plant chemicals that turn on cancer suppressor genes and turn off cancer promoter genes.
Studies show increased levels of inflammation and oxidative stress in the colon with diets lacking plant antioxidants. Increased inflammation and low antioxidant levels is an environment that promotes colon cancer (6) (7). Eat 6-10 servings daily.
4. Use Olive Oil. Olive oil contains plant chemicals that have anti-cancer properties. Olive oil reduces bile acid and increases enzymes that regulate cell turn over in the lining of the intestines promoting healthy tissue. Antioxidant compounds (phenolics) present in olive oil also exert a cancer protective antioxidant effect (8).
5. Include Selenium Rich Foods. Studies show that selenium not only inhibits colon cancer but can also enhance or work with some cancer drugs. Selenium also inhibits growth and promotes death of colon cancer cells (9).
In some areas the soil is very poor in selenium. Therefore taking a supplement of methyselenocysteine, a biologically active form of oral selenium, may provide a source absent in the diet.
6. Include Spices and Herbs That Inhibit Colon Cancer. Studies show that Garlic, Ginger, Tumeric, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, Spearmint, and Peppermint all inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells (11).
7. Include Omega 3 Oils. A diet rich in anti-inflammatory Omega 3 oils (EPA and DHA) decreases incidence of colon cancer.
Omega 3 oils are found in cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and cod as well as flax oil. Omega 3 oils decrease the levels of pro-inflammatory molecules that promote cancer. Because it is not always easy to get adequate levels of Omega 3 oils (EPA and DHA) in the modern diet, oral supplementation is a good alternative. (12)
8. Drink Ginseng Tea. Numerous studies have shown that several species of the prized longevity herb ginseng root decrease growth and proliferation of colon cancer cells, increase their demise (apoptosis), and act as a potent protective anti-cancer anti-oxidant.
Asian ginsengs (Panax ginseng, Panax notoginseng) as well as American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) all exhibit these properties. Ginseng root is widely available in tea and extract form as a beverage tea. Under the guidance of a knowledgable clinician ginseng root has been traditionally used as an herbal medicine for a wide variety of applications (13) (14).
Reflecting upon these recommendations for dietary choices, we are describing both traditional Mediterranean and traditional Asian Diets.
These diets are naturally low in red meats and animal proteins, high in fish and omega 3 oils, high in olive oil and a wide variety of whole grains and fruits and vegetables as well as herbs and spices with known anti-cancer properties.
Cultures where traditional diets are still eaten today have lower rates of colon cancer than countries such as the United States and some European countries where a modern diet seems to promote and create higher risk for colon cancer (1) (2) (7) (8) (10) (11) (12). The choices seem clear, and pretty tasty.
You may have seen the ads in the Sunday paper or on TV: “Try this all-natural remedy! Thousands already have!”
Some of these ads grab your attention with the headline, “Here’s something your doctors don’t want you to know.” I highly doubt that your doctor is interested in keeping secrets from you, especially if there was something safe and effective that could improve your health. In addition, the treatments promoted in these ads are typically untested, unproven, and largely unregulated.
While I rarely object to my patients pursuing “alternative remedies” that seem safe, I am concerned when the ads suggest that you can “throw away all those pills” your doctor recommended because the advertised treatment will make them unnecessary. That always seemed like a hazardous claim. A new study suggests that there is danger in relying on unproven treatments over those that have been well-tested.
The new study on alternative cancer treatments
Researchers analyzed data from nearly two million patients with cancer treated at accredited medical centers throughout the US. They only included patients with cancers of the breast, lung, colon, or prostate that had not spread to other areas of the body.
Compared with those who received only conventional cancer treatments (including surgery, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and/or hormone therapy), those who chose a “complementary” cancer treatment (such as herbs or acupuncture) along with at least one conventional cancer treatment:
- tended to be younger, female, have higher socioeconomic status and educational level, and live in Pacific or Intermountain West regions of the United States.
- declined additional conventional treatments more often. For example, chemotherapy was refused by 34% of those choosing unproven remedies, but by only 3% of the conventional treatment-only group.
- did not live as long. The five-year survival was 82% in the unproven treatment group, and 87% in the conventional treatment group.
- had a higher rate of death that appeared to be due to delay or refusal of conventional treatment.
While the difference in five-year survival was small, it was statistically significant. And if this were a comparison of two new treatments, a 5% difference would be considered important.
Caveats about this study
This study was not designed to directly compare non-conventional therapies with conventional ones, and the results do not mean that all unproven remedies are useless. In fact, an unproven treatment may become conventional if rigorous research proves its worth. There are many types of alternative treatments (including herbs, vitamins, homeopathy, yoga, and acupuncture) that might have different effects and have not yet been well studied. Importantly, this study did not examine the interaction of conventional and alternative treatments (which in some cases may cause problems).
In addition, this study did not actually find that complementary treatments along with conventional treatments were harmful. But it did suggest that relying on unproven remedies instead of conventional therapies might be.
Finally, this study did not examine all types of cancer, all types of treatments, or the impact of treatment on quality of life. Different results might have been observed if other outcomes of interest (such as quality of life) had been included.
If you have cancer and are interested in herbs, acupuncture, or other alternative treatments, talk to your doctor. Think twice before declining conventional treatments. But if you do decline recommended treatment, make sure you understand the pros and cons of doing so, including the possibility of shorter survival.
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling
Fight cancer, prevent cancer, and achieve optimal health by eating cancer-fighting foods every day. This salad and dressing recipe was created by Chris Wark, who beat cancer using nutrition and natural therapies, including eating this salad daily.
By Chris Wark • Originally published on ChrisBeatCancer.com
To strengthen your body’s ability to fight cancer, you can eat what I ate:
The biggest, baddest, healthiest salad on the planet!
It consists of raw organic vegetables, sprouts, seeds, nuts, and homemade dressing.
This salad is super healthy, delicious, and will fill you up without zapping your energy.
The Raw Vegan Diet was a huge part of my anti-cancer strategy and I ate this salad every day, sometimes twice a day, during the first few years of my Chemo-Free Cancer Battle.
I wanted to put as many vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and enzymes into my body as possible and there’s no better way than juicing and eating fresh raw organic fruits and vegetables.
Fight Cancer With This Giant Cancer-Fighting Salad Recipe
There’s really no secret formula to this salad, but there are some guidelines to follow:
- Absolutely no cheese, meat, or store-bought salad dressing.
- It’s also a good idea to avoid fruit which can cause some indigestion when eaten with vegetables.
- It is important that you use organic produce, which is free of toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
- And of course, wash everything before you eat it. Then, just chop it all up and throw it in a bowl!
Note: You might need some bigger bowls. Mine doesn’t look very big in the photo, but it holds over 6 cups. That’s six servings of vegetables! 6-10 servings per day of fruits and vegetables are ideal for cancer prevention and healing.
How To Make The Giant Cancer-Fighting Salad
Editor’s Note: Use as many of the following ingredients as you can. Choose organic produce if possible to avoid pesticides, harmful chemicals, and GMOs. If you use sprouted garbanzo beans, mung beans, red lentils, or green lentils, and you aren’t trying to eat 100% raw, you may want to cook them to improve digestibility.
- Start with the most nutrient dense dark leafy greens: Kale and Spinach. (Do not exceed 10 cups per day)
- Broccoli (The best source of sulforaphane which promotes liver detoxification, and Indole-3-carbinol, an anticarcinogenic compound)
- Broccoli Sprouts (Concentrated sulforaphane & I3C. Do not exceed four cups of sprouts per day)
- Purple cabbage (cheapest source of antioxidants per ounce in the world!)
- Slice of red onion (yellow or green onions may actually be better)
- Red, Yellow, or Green Peppers
- Mushrooms: Bella, Crimini, Shiitake, etc. (Editor’s Note: Mushrooms should be eaten cooked, never raw, to avoid toxins.)
- 1/2 an Avocado
- Raw Sunflower seeds (sprouted is better)
- Raw Almonds (sprouted is better)
- Sprouted Garbanzo Beans
- Sprouted Mung Beans
- Sprouted Red or Green Lentils
Then I top it off with either one of these naturally fermented foods:
- Bubbies Old Fashioned Sauerkraut
Bubbies is made with only three ingredients: cabbage, water, and salt. It is fermented and cured with all natural enzymes intact, and there is no vinegar added. (Bubbies Kosher dill pickles are super tasty too.) Look for it in the refrigerated section of your local grocer or health food store.
- Kimchi (Pronounced “Kim Chee”)
Kimchi is a spicy Korean version of sauerkraut typically consisting of fermented cabbage, onions, garlic, and pepper. Kim Chi has high concentrations of Vitamin C and carotene in addition to Vitamin A, B1, B2, calcium, iron and beneficial lactic acid bacteria. It’s recognized as one of the Top Five “World’s Healthiest Foods” by Health magazine. Also in the refrigerated section.
Fermented foods are great for digestion and repopulate your intestinal flora with beneficial bacteria essential for health.
Repeat: Absolutely no cheese, meat, fruit, or store-bought salad dressing.
I know it seems weird to exclude fruit. Here’s why:
Fruits and vegetables need different digestive juices, and when eaten together, they can create excess acid and indigestion.
That is why it’s a good idea to eat them separately, especially if you are sick. This even includes non-sweet fruits, like tomatoes and cucumbers.
My Homemade “Zesty Italian” Salad Dressing
This is hands down the healthiest salad dressing on the planet!
It’s super easy and delicious.
Here’s how you make it:
- Add 1 tbsp Bragg organic extra virgin olive oil to your salad
- Add 1 tbsp Barleans cold-pressed flax oil to your salad
- Lightly drizzle Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar to taste (another super healthy fermented food!)
- Then shake on as much of these Four Cancer Fighting Spices as you can stand:
- Organic Oregano
- Organic Garlic Powder
- Organic Turmeric or Curry Powder
- Organic Cayenne Pepper (this will spice it up quick, go easy the first time)
Editor’s Note: You can leave out the oil to make this recipe oil-free. You can also use ground flaxseeds in your dressing instead of flaxseed oil.
I can’t tell you many times I have eaten this salad! Over a thousand I bet.
And what’s funny is I have several books filled with of raw vegan recipes, but this Giant Salad ended up being my staple meal.
Most days I ate it for lunch and dinner. I didn’t mind eating the same thing every day because it was simple and quick to prepare.
I didn’t have to put any time into planning my meals. I knew exactly what to buy at the grocery store every week, and it’s so delicious and full of flavor it never got old!
One final note: The salad really doesn’t have to be “giant.” I make big ones because that’s what it takes to fill me up. Not everyone needs to eat that much. A small version is fine too. Just focus on getting as many nutrient-dense vegetables in there as you can and make it big enough to satisfy your appetite.
Chris’ Story: How a Vegan Diet Helped Me Conquer Colon Cancer
On New Years Eve 2003, I woke up in a hospital with a third of my colon gone and a diagnosis of stage 3 colon cancer. I was 26 years old. I had been having abdominal pain for the better part of the year and being the stereotypical macho man, I put it off, thinking it would get better.
But it didn’t.
Eventually the pain became so intense that I found myself balled up on the couch every night after dinner. Time to see a doctor.
After a misdiagnosis and inconclusive tests, I was sent for a colonoscopy. Surprise! There was a golf-ball sized tumor in my colon. Two days later, a biopsy confirmed I had colon cancer. I was in shock. How does a 26-year-old end up with a cancer that almost never occurs in people under 50?
I was told the cancer had to be removed before it spread, and they rushed me into surgery. On the operating table the surgeon discovered that the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. The next day they informed me that I would need 9 to 12 months of chemotherapy as soon as I recovered from surgery.
Hospital Junk Food
Several things happened in the hospital that got me thinking. The first meal they served me after removing a third of my large intestine was the worst elementary school cafeteria food imaginable: a Sloppy Joe. What am I, 10? I hadn’t eaten in three days, but could still only get down a few bites. I couldn’t understand why they thought it was okay to feed junk food to a cancer patient.
Like any post-surgery patient, I was concerned about doing anything that might mess with my newly stitched-up guts, so I asked the surgeon, “Are there any foods I need to avoid?” He said, “Nah, just don’t lift anything heavier than a beer.” Not the advice I was expecting.
During my recovery back home, I thought about what my future would look like, and when I thought about chemotherapy, I was conflicted. Instinctively, the idea of poisoning my way back to health did not make sense. I didn’t want to do it, but I didn’t know what else to do. So I did what most people do when they are desperate. I prayed. My wife and I sat down on the couch and prayed together. I asked God that if there were another way besides chemotherapy that He would reveal it to me.
Two days later, a book arrived on my doorstep, sent to me from a man in Alaska whom I’d never met, a friend of my dad. That book was written by a man who claimed he had healed his colon cancer nearly 30 years prior using only nutrition–a raw vegan diet and tons of juicing, especially carrot juice. I knew it was the answer to my prayer.
Skipping Chemo in Favor of Raw Fruits and Veggies
I began to read and research the known causes of cancer and learned that environmental toxins, an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, and stress were all key health-destroying factors. I realized that my nutrient-deficient diet of processed food, fast food, junk food, and factory-farmed animal products was poisoning and polluting my body. I also came to understand that my thoughts, attitudes and emotions were toxic as well.
As I researched chemotherapy, I discovered that it was much worse than I had been lead to believe. Chemotherapy temporarily reduces some cancerous cells in the body, but my research showed that it could also destroy the immune system; make cancer stem cells more aggressive; cause secondary cancers; cause permanent damage to the brain, liver, kidneys, lungs, heart; and would likely make me infertile.
That’s when I decided against chemotherapy. I chose to overdose on nutrition instead, giving my body everything it needed to repair, regenerate, and detoxify. I immediately adopted a raw vegan diet, eating only fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, and drinking eight glasses of fresh vegetable juice every day.
Backlash From My Friends and Doctors
To my surprise, my decision to go vegan was not well received by many people close to me. An oncologist told me I had a 60 percent chance of living five years with conventional therapies, which didn’t sound much better than a coin toss. I asked him about alternative therapies. He looked me dead in the eye and said, “There are none. If you don’t do chemo, you are insane… And I’m not saying this because I need your business.”
My wife and I left the clinic terrified. We sat in the car, held hands, cried, and prayed. I was afraid of dying and of looking like a fool for going against conventional medical advice, but I knew God was leading me down a different path. I stepped out in faith, into the unknown and He gave me peace in the midst of uncertainty and opposition.
I never went back to the cancer clinic. It was clear to me that I hadn’t been taking care of myself and that I could make massive, radical changes to my diet and lifestyle. So I decided to take responsibility for my health and recovery. And if that didn’t work, chemo would be my last resort.
Integrative Oncology Helped Me Change
I found a holistic nutritionist and an integrative oncologist in Memphis who were tremendous allies. With their guidance, I did every natural non-toxic therapy I could find and afford. I was determined to live and willing to do whatever it took to restore my health. By taking control of my health and radically transforming my diet and lifestyle, I enabled my body to heal and become a place where cancer could not thrive.
I’m not unique, I’m not special, and I’m not the only person who believes he has healed his own cancer. There are thousands of us. The key factors that all cancer healers have in common are documented in a terrific new book called Radical Remission by Dr. Kelly Turner, PhD.
Today, over 10 years after my diagnosis, my wife and I have two beautiful daughters, I am still cancer-free and in the best physical shape of my life.
Chris Wark is a writer, speaker and health coach in Memphis, Tenn. His mission is inspiring people to take control of their health and reverse disease with a radical transformation of diet and lifestyle, and faith. Chris has a health blog that has reached millions of people worldwide, and he has made many appearances on radio and television including The Ricki Lake Show and The Lisa Oz Show. He is the author of an upcoming book, Chris Beat Cancer. For more information on nutrition and natural therapies as well as testimonials from others who have healed cancer visit www.chrisbeatcancer.com. You can also find Chris on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
5 Tips to Gain the Beat Cancer Mindset
The purpose of my book, Chris Beat Cancer, is to tell you my story, explain the methods that I and many others have successfully used to heal, and share what I’ve learned about the power of nutrition and lifestyle medicine.
In the first year of my healing journey, one of the physical therapies I employed, along with chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture, was a form of therapeutic massage called structural integration, also known as “Rolfing.”
Three months after my diagnosis, I went to see a structural integration practitioner named Elinor. During our first meeting, she asked me a series of questions, the last of which was surprising and slightly terrifying. She said, “Before we get started, I need to know if you really want to live.”
Like many cancer patients, I had mainly been focused on not dying. No one had ever asked me if I actually wanted to live. Isn’t that a given? Doesn’t everybody want to live?
Did I really want to live?
For a brief moment, I feared that maybe deep down I didn’t, that perhaps, subconsciously, I had a death wish. So I asked myself, Do I want to live? Do I? I searched my heart. At first, I didn’t know what the answer was. Despite my ambition and the confidence I outwardly projected, I had never really liked myself. I was afraid that secretly maybe I didn’t want to live and that maybe my cancer was the manifestation of years of painful insecurity and mental and emotional self-sabotage. But in that moment, I realized that even if that was true, I could confront those thoughts and feelings and behavior. I could change.
“Yes. I want to live.”
If you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, this is the most powerful question you can ask yourself. So go ahead, ask yourself, “Do I want to live?” If your answer is yes, my next question for you is “Why?” Why do you want to live? If you are not sure, take a few minutes to think about what you have to live for.
Your reasons to live might be people in your life who need you, people you want to love and serve.
Your reason might be a purpose, a calling, a mission you haven’t accomplished, a dream you haven’t fulfilled, or it might be all of the above. Write down or type up the list of your reasons to live and put this list in places where you will see it every day. Tack the list on the wall. Write it in lipstick on your bathroom mirror. Make it the background on your computer screen. Take a picture and make it the lock screen on your phone. Keep your reasons to live in front of you and on your mind throughout the day every day.
I had several strong reasons to live. First and foremost I wanted to live for my wife and for my parents.
At the time of my diagnosis, Micah and I had been together for eight years (dated for six, married for two). I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her a widow. Equally painful was the thought of my parents standing beside her at my graveside, burying me, their only child. Beyond that I had dreams and aspirations. I wanted to live a long, full life. I had an entrepreneurial spirit, and I wanted to build a successful business. I wanted to have children and grandchildren, and maybe even meet my great-grandchildren. I wanted to have adventures and travel the world. I wanted to serve the purpose of God in my generation.
Healing cancer starts in your mind and your heart, and with a choice. The choice to live. Some cancer patients don’t have a strong will to live. They may be satisfi ed with what they’ve accomplished in life and are ready to die.
If this is you, that’s okay! What I would like to encourage you to do is to help the people around you understand that you are ready to die so they won’t continue to pressure you into doing things you don’t want to do. If you don’t want to do treatment, don’t do it. This is your life and you should do what you want to do. You should make the most of the time you have left and live your life to the fullest. Spend time with people you love. Make your bucket list and start checking it off.
In January 2012, my cousin Jeff was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.
He was told that he would only live for about six months without chemo but that he could live up to two years if he did treatment. He accepted his prognosis and agreed to the treatments that his doctors said would “buy him more time” but would not cure him. He set up a CaringBridge page and chronicled his journey through cancer treatment, which showed his inspiring strength and courage.
In one e-mail to family, he mentioned that he hoped to be able run one more marathon between chemo treatments, but the tone of his e-mails suggested that he had accepted that he would not be cured.
During this time his mother was strongly encouraging him to get a second opinion and to consider incorporating nutrition and nontoxic therapies as I did. She begged him to talk to me and I reached out to him via e-mail, but he did not respond. Later he told his mother in another e-mail that he and I were very different and that he didn’t buy into fads or self-help books.
After surgery to remove the tumor in his colon, Jeff felt better and was in good spirits, but within a few weeks after starting chemo his health took a dramatic turn for the worse as the tumors grew rapidly in his abdomen and liver. He could not eat or even keep water down, and he told the doctors that if living meant continuing to be in the condition he was in—i.e., not being able to eat or drink—he did not want to live and would just let the cancer take him, and he hoped it would be quick. Jeff was gone in about three months after diagnosis, just after his 49th birthday.
THE BEAT CANCER MINDSET
As I’ve thought about my cousin’s cancer experience and reflected on the path he chose, I’ve come to realize that he was right. He and I are different. Introspection does not come naturally to me, but as I began teaching others about health, nutrition, healing, and survival, I was often asked why I made the decisions I made, and I was forced to self-analyze.
I realized what made me different; it was the mindset I adopted, which was born out of my determination to get well and to live. Since I started my journey, I’ve read about, met, and interviewed many people who have healed all types and stages of cancer, and I’ve seen that same mindset in every single one of them. I call it the Beat Cancer Mindset. This mindset is the single most important factor, the linchpin in every successful healing story.
The Beat Cancer Mindset has five components:
1. Accept total responsibility for your health.
2. Be willing to do whatever it takes.
3. Take massive action.
4. Make plans for the future.
5. Enjoy your life and the process.
1) Accept total responsibility for your health.
The fi rst question on a cancer patient’s mind after diagnosis is “Why did this happen to me? How did I get cancer?” The revelation I had in January 2004 was that the way I was living was killing me. If you have cancer, I believe you should assume the same.
My intention is not to blame you or shame you but to empower you to take control of your situation and change your life.
Many of the cancer-causing factors in your life can be removed and your risk of getting a recurrence or dying from cancer can be greatly reduced, just by your choices. Your choices matter. People who care about you are going to tell you the truth. Sometimes the truth stings a little, but the truth will set you free.
Accepting responsibility for your health starts with considering the possibility that cancer may be your fault.
Maybe some bad decisions, bad habits, or ignorance over the course of your life contributed to your cancer. I know mine did. There’s no need to beat yourself up about it or wallow in guilt, self-pity, or regret.
Instead now is the time to evaluate your life, accept whatever part you played, and learn from your mistakes. Now is the time to identify the cancer causers in your life, radically change, and move forward.
One of the most troubling things I’ve ever heard a cancer patient say is, “I’m not going to let cancer change me.”
On the surface, this proclamation of defiance to the disease gives the impression of strength, determination, and willpower and could easily serve as a rallying cry for cancer fighters, but tragically, it is denial and disempowerment in disguise.
It was denial that she had contributed in any way to her situation, and it was an acknowledgment that she did not believe she had the power to affect her health and her future. She did not survive. And the gravity of her statement still haunts me. Denial is far more dangerous than blaming yourself. Accepting the blame is taking responsibility.
Taking responsibility for your circumstance empowers you to take control of your life and to change for the better.
Every day in cancer clinics all over the world, patients are told that their cancer is probably the result of bad luck or bad genes.
This turns patients into victims. The logic is simple: nothing you did caused or contributed to your disease; therefore, there is nothing you can do to reverse it. If you have family history, they may tell you it’s genetic. If you don’t have any family history, they may still tell you it’s genetic.
Heredity and genetics are easy scapegoats, but fewer than 5 percent of cancers are genetic, and not everyone with a “cancer gene” develops cancer. Genes may load the gun, but your diet, lifestyle, and environment pull the trigger. However, if you believe that you are powerless and that there is nothing you can do to positively affect your health and your future, your only hope is medical procedures and pharmaceutical drugs.
You are not powerless and you are not a victim. The health or disease you are experiencing today is largely the result of the diet and lifestyle decisions you’ve made in the past.
If you abuse your body, it is going to break down sooner, but if you take care of your body it will work better and you will increase your odds of health, healing, and long life. Today’s choices affect tomorrow’s health.
Your choices matter!
2) Be willing to do whatever it takes.
Once you have accepted responsibility for your health, the next step is being willing to do whatever it takes to get well, which means being willing to turn your life upside down, to change everything. If restoring my health meant getting as close to nature as possible by sleeping in the woods in a tent, I was willing to do it.
If it meant trekking out into the wilderness for a 40-day water fast like Jesus, I was willing to do it.
Fortunately I didn’t have to resort to either of those two things, but they were on my radar. I became a detective, determined to identify and eliminate anything in my life that may have contributed to my disease. I stopped eating to satisfy my appetite and sensual cravings and began eating to feed my cells, restore my health, and save my life. I wasn’t living to eat anymore; I was eating to live.
Most cancer patients have a strong will to live in the beginning, but unfortunately, most of them have also been convinced that “doing whatever it takes,” “living strong,” and “fighting cancer” just mean suffering through brutal and destructive cancer treatments. Whether you do conventional treatments or not, the Beat Cancer Mindset means taking an active role in your health
and healing, not solely relying on someone else to cure you. I radically changed my diet and lifestyle. I gave up all the unhealthy food I loved to eat. I did every natural, nontoxic therapy I could find and afford. I faced my fears, admitted my faults, changed the way I thought, reached out to God and asked for help, and forgave everyone who had hurt me.
This was a lot more work than showing up for chemo and having my doctor’s permission to eat burgers, ice cream, and pizza, and not changing my life, but I knew I had to do it.
The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is not motivation. Motivation is unpredictable and unreliable.
It is easy to be motivated when you’ve started something new and exciting, but when the excitement wears off so does the motivation, and lack of motivation becomes an excuse for inaction.
What keeps people going when their motivation is low is determination.
Determination is the force inside you that cannot be stopped, even when the storms of life come against you.
Determination is doing what you know needs to be done, whether or not you feel like it at the time.
During this process, I became acutely aware of the spirit-mind-body connection as it relates to health and realized that not only did I need to change my diet and lifestyle, but I also needed to change the way I was thinking.
My perspective on cancer is different from most. I don’t see cancer as something to be fought or killed; I see it as something to be healed. There is a battle involved in healing cancer, but it’s not so much a battle in the body as it is a battle in the mind. In order to heal your body, you must first win the battle in your mind.
Changing your thoughts will change your life.
When I caught myself thinking negatively, I chose to think positively. I chose to speak life out of my mouth and not allow outside influences, fear, and doubt to sway me.
When you think and speak this way, you empower your creative subconscious mind to assist you in the process, and you find supernatural strength to do things you never thought you could.
Your conscious mind and subconscious mind are powerful.
Your beliefs are powerful. Patients who believe treatment will help them often respond better than those who don’t.
The placebo effect is real.
In my experience patients who go through the motions of treatment and therapies to appease those around them but don’t believe they can get well rarely do. They subliminally sabotage the process and often make impulsive, irrational, emotion-based decisions that are not conducive to healing.
When a doctor tells a patient they are going to die in a matter of months, it can become a self-fulfi lling prophecy. They often lose all hope and stop trying to live. They believe they are going to die and they usually do, as predicted.
This is eerily not unlike a hex or a curse. No doctor has the authority to dictate the end of your life unless you give it to them.
They do not know when you will die. They are just lumping you into a statistical group based on your age, cancer type, stage, and other factors.
Your thoughts and beliefs create your life, your health, and your future. And when faced with a terminal prognosis, you have a choice of how to process that information. You can choose to believe it, or you can choose to reject it and become determined to prove your doctor wrong.
It’s okay to accept a diagnosis, assuming it has been validated by several sources, but you don’t have to accept a prognosis that you’re going to die in a certain amount of time because a doctor or a statistic said so. Defy the odds and be the exception.
3) Take massive action.
The third characteristic of successful survivors is massive action.
The minimal action typically produces minimal results, but massive action produces massive results. Massive Action is radical action.
It’s going against the grain. It’s swimming upstream when everyone else is floating downstream. It’s action that draws jealousy and criticism from others. Humans by nature are resistant to change and tend to have a “crab mentality.”
If you put crabs in a bucket and one tries to escape, the other crabs will pull it back down. In the same way, people often pull each other down out of envy, spite, or competitiveness.
Massive Action may appear crazy to people around you and they may try to talk you out of it, like they did me, but don’t let them. Massive Action is facing your fl aws, faults, and fears, changing your whole life, getting rid of everything that might be keeping you sick, and replacing disease promoters with health promoters.
Sometimes small changes can produce big results. I love when that happens. But if that’s what you’re hoping for, your hope is in the wrong place because your hope is for a quick fix.
That’s not the Beat Cancer Mindset. That’s the Magic Bullet Mindset. And the conventional and alternative cancer industries are both full of people ready to take advantage of anyone looking for a shortcut.
You didn’t get cancer overnight and you aren’t going to get rid of it overnight. There is no miracle cure or magic bullet. Long-term healing requires massive action and a total life change. Point your ship toward Healthy Island and stay the course.
I’ve seen many cancer patients experience dramatic turnarounds in their health and have tumors shrink and even disappear in as little as 30 to 90 days using nutrition and nontoxic therapies, but I’ve also seen some of them become lazy and complacent and slide back into their old unhealthy habits.
Then cancer comes back. The first two years after a cancer diagnosis are the most critical. This is when cancer is most likely to return or spread. Two years of hard-core healthy living is an ideal short-term target, and beyond that, in order to stay healthy long term, you have to make your health a priority for life.
Every day of your life is a page in your story. Your thoughts, decisions, and actions each day write your story. Take massive action to change your life and be 100 percent committed to the process. 100 percent is easy. 99 percent is hard.
4) Make plans for the future.
Document every detail of your cancer journey. Journal. Do a video diary. Plan on being well and document what you’re doing so you can use what you’ve learned to help other people once you are well.
You need a future goal to work toward, and making plans for the future is very important. The spirit-mind-body connection is a mystery, but something powerful happens when you plan for the future.
You’re planning to live. You’re sending signals of life to your body. Don’t be afraid to make plans for the future. I know the default response is, “Well, I don’t know if I’ll be here in a year or two years . . .” Instead of thinking that way, plan on living a long life. Sketch out your life goals, write down the things you want to accomplish, and keep those goals in front of you and start working toward them.
Making plans for the future is so important. When I was diagnosed, I didn’t have children and I really wanted to have a family.
I wanted to be a dad. The decision to start a family three months after being diagnosed was a huge risk, but it took my focus off cancer, strengthened my will to live, and brought a new dimension of purpose into my life. If Micah and I had agreed not to have children for fear of an unknown future, we would not have our two beautiful daughters, the greatest joys in our life.
5) Enjoy your life and the process.
Don’t let fear and worry steal your joy. Make a decision to live in the present and to enjoy your life right now. Depression suppresses your immune system. If you’re depressed, fearful, anxious, or worried, it makes you more vulnerable to cancer. Instead focus on things that bring you hope, optimism, encouragement, and joy. Start living your life, really living. There’s an organization for young adult cancer patients called Stupid Cancer and I love their slogan, which is “Get Busy Living.”
Now is the time to live. There are a thousand different ways you could die besides cancer. You could die in a car wreck. You could trip and hit your head on the pavement. You could choke on a peppermint. There’s no point in letting cancer paralyze you into depression and inaction. Start doing things you’ve always wanted to do. Get out there. Live your life. Do fun stuff. Do some skydiving, mountain climbing, and bull riding like it says in the Tim McGraw song “Live Like You Were Dying.” Make a commitment to enjoy your life and to enjoy the process. And Get Busy Living!
Even if some of these changes are diffi cult for you, like quitting smoking, giving up your favorite unhealthy foods, or eating vegetables you’ve never liked, you’ve got to keep your perspective because there are way worse things than vegetables. And when you get well, you can look back and know it was all worth it.
This is a new chapter, a new season in life, a new adventure that should be dominated by gratitude.
Gratitude is the secret to happiness.
Count your blessings every day.
Don’t focus on what you don’t have. Focus on what you do have. Don’t focus on what you can’t do. Focus on what you can do. Cancer cut a dividing line in your life.
If you’re focused on the past, longing for the days before cancer and wishing things were the way they used to be, you will only make yourself more miserable. What you focus on expands.
Focus on joy, happiness, love, and gratitude and they will increase in your life.
Focus on the present and on the things you can do today to improve your health and make your life better.
In 2004 I was struggling to build a real estate business, barely making ends meet, and living in a tiny house, and I had cancer.
I had every reason to be negative, bitter, and angry. But I learned how to exercise gratitude, how to be thankful, how to focus on all the good things in my life instead of the bad, and how to be happy in my most difficult season of life. And although I would rather not go through cancer again, I know with absolute certainty that what it taught me changed me for the better. The worst thing that ever happened to me has made my life more fulfilling than I could ever have imagined.
That’s the Cancer Mindset.
Six Ways to Lower Your Risk for Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is one of the more common cancers in the US. About 1 in 23 men and 1 in 25 women will develop colon or rectal cancer at some point during their lifetime. But there are things you can do to help lower your risk.
Here are 6 ways to help protect your colorectal health.
- Get screened for colorectal cancer. Screenings are tests that look for cancer before signs and symptoms develop. Colorectal screenings can often find growths on the colon or rectum called polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer. These tests also can find colon or rectal cancer earlier, when treatments are more likely to be successful. The American Cancer Society recommends testing starting at age 45 for people at average risk; talk to your health care provider about when you should start and which tests might be right for you.
- Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Diets that include lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains have been linked with a decreased risk of colon or rectal cancer. Eat less red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) and processed meats (hot dogs and some luncheon meats), which have been linked with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
- Get regular exercise. If you are not physically active, you may have a greater chance of developing colon or rectal cancer. Increasing your activity may help reduce your risk. Learn more about how to meet diet and exercise goals at cancer.org/foodandfitness.
- Watch your weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of getting and dying from colon or rectal cancer. Eating healthier and increasing your physical activity can help you control your weight.
- Don’t smoke. Long-term smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop and die from colon or rectal cancer. If you smoke and you want to quit, or know someone else who does, see the American Cancer Society guide to quitting tobacco, or call us at 1-800-227-2345. Getting help increases your chances of quitting successfully.
- Limit alcohol. Alcohol use has been linked with a higher risk of colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women. A single drink amounts to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1½ ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (hard liquor).
Research shows that habits related to diet, weight, and exercise are linked to colorectal cancer risk, and those links are stronger than for other types of cancer. Changing some of these lifestyle habits may be hard. But making the changes can also lower the risk for many other types of cancer, as well as other serious diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Risk factors you can’t change
Recent data has shown that new cases of colorectal cancer are on the rise in younger populations. That’s why the American Cancer Society recommends colorectal cancer screening begin at age 45 for people at average risk. But some people have certain risk factors that make them more likely to develop colorectal cancer, and to get it at an earlier age. For these people, this may mean they should start screening earlier, or get tested more often than other people.
One of these risk factors is a family history of colorectal cancer or pre-cancerous polyps, especially in parents, brothers and sisters, or children. As many as 1 in 3 people who develop colon or rectal cancer have other family members who’ve had it. Family history of other colorectal problems can also increase risk. These include hereditary syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer, also known as Lynch syndrome.
Your personal history can also affect your risk. For example, you are more likely to get colon or rectal cancer if you have had pre-cancerous colon polyps in the past. Having other conditions, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or type 2 diabetes can also increase your risk of colorectal cancer. If you have any of these problems, talk to your health care provider about which screening options might be best for you.
Medically reviewed by Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD
Colorectal cancer and its treatments can often impact the way the body digests foods, fluids and absorbs nutrients. For patients and survivors, incorporating healthy, plant-based foods and lean protein into your diet can help your body stay strong and nourished during and after treatment.
Patients with colorectal cancer should try to eat small, frequent meals to help ease digestion and manage side effects of treatment.
Many of the side effects of colorectal cancer and treatment – diarrhea, constipation, unwanted weight loss or weight gain, appetite changes, heartburn, fatigue, low blood counts and increased risk of infection – can make it hard for you to give your body all the vital nutrients it needs. Here are some tips for which foods to aim for and which to avoid:
- Fill your plate with lots of fruits and vegetables. There is no one winner; each color family is ideal because they are packed with immune system-supporting nutrients. Dark green leafy veggies, mangos, berries, and melon (like cantaloupe), are healthy choices and can be a great snack.
- Drink water and stay hydrated. This can aid in digestion and ease side effects like constipation and fatigue. Try infusing your water with berries or lemons if plain water is not appealing.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol. This can also help to improve energy and many medications do not mix well with usual amounts of caffeine and alcohol.
- Try minimally processed dairy foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D, such as plain Greek yogurt. The probiotics in these foods can be helpful for digestion.
- Look for whole grains like steel-cut oats, quinoa, and brown rice, which provide fiber and important vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium and folate.
- Stay away from excess sugar. An ideal colorectal cancer diet is similar to that of a diet for diabetes patients; eat often, include a protein source and limit processed, refined carbohydrates, sugary drinks and desserts.
- Eat small, frequent meals. This can make it easier to get all the nutrition you need when dealing with appetite or weight changes, and may also help the body ease digestion and absorption. Small, frequent meals are a great strategy for symptom management beyond appetite changes, like fatigue, reflux and diarrhea.
When it comes to prevention, studies have shown that a plant-based diet that incorporates fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce inflammation and lower the risk of some types of cancer, says Dana-Farber nutrition expert Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO. Many fatty fish are also a rich source of vitamin D, which has been shown to help protect against colon cancer and other malignancies, Kennedy says.
“In addition plant-based foods, patients and survivors should consider incorporating wild fish like salmon into their diets,” says Kennedy. “Overall, patients and survivors should try to limit eating red and processed meats as well as refined sugars.”
Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Linda
Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, behind lung cancer. At least 70% of colon cancer cases are avoidable. Numerous studies suggest that a plant-based diet may be beneficial in the prevention, treatment, and even reversal of cancer.
What may contribute to colon cancer?
Heterocyclic amines, carcinogens created by cooking muscle tissue, are associated with colon cancer, as are dangerous compounds called nitrosamines found in cured meats. Too much iron in the body, especially the type of iron that comes from meat, may also increase the risk of colon cancer. Animal protein consumption is associated with an increase in a cancer-promoting growth hormone called IGF-1. High saturated fat from animal products stimulates elevated levels of bile acids, which have been shown to be cancer-causing. When animal protein putrefies in the colon, ammonia is produced, which is associated with cancer risk. Poultry and other animal products contain viruses that are known to cause cancer in animals and may be passed to humans. Additionally, dioxins in fish and eggs may contribute to colon cancer risk.
What may help prevent colon cancer?
The rarity of colon cancer in Africans is attributable to very low animal-product consumption. The significantly lower pH in the colon resulting from a plant-based diet helps lower the risk of colon cancer. Specific protective foods include beans, berries (including Indian gooseberries and organic strawberries), broccoli, black beans, a number of herbal varieties of tea, carob, coffee, apples, turmeric, cranberries, sweet potatoes, nuts, and lemon rind and seeds. Vitamin D may also play a role in preventing colon cancer. The kind of “resistant starch” that comes from plant foods like cooked beans, peas, lentils, and raw oatmeal—can block the accumulation of potentially harmful byproducts of animal-protein metabolism in the colon.
Stool size may be an important factor in colon cancer prevention. A plant-based diet produces the healthiest stools, and leads to consistently larger bowel movements.
Image Credit: Internet Archive Book Images / Flickr. This image has been modified.