Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
How To Not Get Cancer
In Nine Easy-ish Steps

Cancer sucks. Click here for a graphic, first-hand account of how hard cancer sucks.

Cancer is on the verge of overtaking heart disease as our number one killer. Nearly 1.5 million people were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2008, with 560,000 deaths. You can't completely eliminate your risk of getting cancer – bad luck and time (*) are both factors.

That said: Cancer is understood to be primarily an environmental disease – with 80-95% of cases due to environmental factors which can be controlled. The two keys are prevention and early detection. Prevention is better.

Prevention

  1. Stop smoking: About 25-30% of cancers (and 90% of lung cancer) are directly caused by tobacco, which contains 50 known carcinogens. (*)
  2. Eat better: Poor diet and obesity are directly linked to 30-40% of cancers. You'll note that's more than smoking.
    • Eat a lot more fruits and vegetables: Eating more vegetables and fruits – which are naturally high in nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber – is the second most effective way to reduce your risk of cancer, after not smoking.
    • Eat cancer-preventing superfoods: These have the most vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, flavenoids, carotenoids, phytochemicals, and other compounds shown to reduce cancer risk. The 20 best are red and orange peppers, kiwi fruit, brazil nuts, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, sweet potatoes, carrots, mangoes, strawberries, watercress, sunflower seeds, salmon, Brussels sprouts, virgin olive oil, cabbage, wholegrain bread, garlic, oranges, and spinach. (Details and recipes, PDF.)
    • Eat a primarily plant-based diet: Vegetarians die from cancer at only about half the rate of the general population. Vegetarians have dramatically lower rates of breast, lung, prostate, and (especially) colon cancer.
    • Don't eat red meats or processed meats (cold cuts, hot dogs, bacon): They contain known carcinogens and saturated fat. Daily red meat eaters have three times the colon cancer risk.
    • Cut out refined carbs: Reduce or eliminate added sugars; and replace white bread, white pasta, and white rice with their whole grain equivalents. Bleached white flour products have all of the nutrients, healthy oils, and fiber removed. A diet high in refined sugars and starches may increase your odds of getting some cancers (such as kidney, pancreatic, and colorectal) three-fold. (*)
    • Eat wild salmon or other oily fish, if you're not veg. If you are veg, eat flaxseed (either oil or milled) or walnuts, which contain similar inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids.
    • Cook your food in extra virgin olive oil.
    • Everyone likes red wine and dark chocolate.
    • Consider eating some soy-based foods and/or green tea: Both contain powerful anti-carcinogens, such as lignans and flavenoids, and may be the cause of the lower cancer rates in Japan and lower breast cancer rates across Asia.
  3. Get regular exercise: You should get at least 30 (ideally 60) minutes of vigorous physical exercise – on as many days as possible (seven isn't too many, but fewer than three is too few). (*) Regular physical activity reduces the risk of a host of cancers, including breast, colon, uterine, and prostate. (The benefits also go far beyond this – slashing your risk of heart disease and stroke, the other two of our top three killers).
  4. Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity is clearly linked with breast, colon, uterine, esophageal, and kidney cancer. It raises the risk of a host of other cancers.
  5. Take a daily multi-vitamin: Consuming nutrients in natural food sources is more effective at lowering cancer risk. But an (ideally mega-) multi-vitamin will help make sure you're not missing cancer-fighting substances such as vitamin C, selenium, vitamin D, folic acid (B9), and beta-carotene.
  6. Limit your alcohol intake: No more than two drinks per day for men, and one for women. Alcohol is a known cause of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and breast. (*)
  7. Keep stress under control: Higher levels of stress are associated with higher risk of cancer. Consider meditation, yoga, or (again) regular vigorous exercise. Also take care to cultivate close and caring relationships with friends and family – strong, supportive social networks protect enormously against the effects of stress. You're also really going to want to get enough sleep.
  8. Limit your exposure to environmental toxins and chemicals:
    • Eat organic produce if possible (grown without toxic chemicals).
    • Limit meat (especially red meat), poultry, and fish (which, higher up the food chain, concentrate toxins in the fat).
    • Be careful around solvents, cleaners, glues, and paints – and use nontoxic alternatives when possible.
  9. Get some sunlight – but not too much! Sunlight on the skin produces vitamin D, which has been shown to protect against many types of cancer, including breast, colon, ovary, prostate, and lymphoma. On the other hand, skin cancer – which can be caused by overexposure – is particularly nasty. Get out before 10am, or after 4pm. At other times, cover up or wear sunscreen.
Did I mention you should eat plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds) – and get daily exercise?

We'll cover early detection guidelines in a subsequent dispatch.

Sources:

  exercise     health     science     veg'ism     take-aways  
about
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
DON'T SHOOT ME IN THE ASS, AND OTHER STORIES by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
ARISEN : Odyssey
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