Every April since 1932, presidents of the United States have taken the time to draft a proclamation for National Cancer Control Month. This year, an estimated half million Americans will lose their lives to cancer, and three times as many will be diagnosed with this devastating illness. While cancer treatments have become more effective in defeating, minimizing and slowing the growth of cancer – thus increasing life expectancy and lowering the mortality rate of cancer patients – prevention and early detection remain the most important factors. It is this point that National Cancer Control Month seeks to raise awareness for.
Here is a selection from President Barack Obama’s 2014 address:
This month, let us renew our push to defeat cancer, honor those we have lost, lend our support to survivors, and bring new hope to all those struggling with this disease. The Congress of the United States, by joint resolution approved March 28, 1938 (52 Stat. 148; 36 U.S.C. 103), as amended, has requested the President to issue an annual proclamation declaring April as “Cancer Control Month.”
While it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of cancer, we can take action to reduce our chances of developing this disease. Not smoking, eating a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables, getting regular exercise, and limiting alcohol consumption and sun exposure can decrease the risk of certain cancers while also keeping us healthy day-to-day.
The Ketogenic Diet
Many people are frustrated with today’s cancer treatments. They’re expensive, painful and often just don’t work. However, there is a cancer treatment that is free, has virtually no side effects and can be used in conjunction with other cancer treatments. It’s called the ketogenic diet and involves cutting out carbohydrates, beginning with the worst carb of all – sugar.
Here is why cutting back on carbs appears to curtail cancer growth: Cancer cells primarily use glucose for fuel, but healthy cells primarily use oxygen and secondary glucose, fatty acids and ketone bodies. The idea behind the ketogenic diet is to “starve” cancer cells by depriving them of glucose, while continuing to provide healthy cells with ketone bodies for energy. If you deprive cells of glucose, they adapt to the alternate fuel cells – ketone bodies. However, cancer cells lack the metabolic flexibility to adapt and can only be fueled by glucose.
Dr. Thomas Seyfried, one of the leading pioneer academic researchers in promoting the treatment of cancer nutritionally, found the ketogenic diet highly effective in fighting cancer. He’s been teaching neurogenetics and neurochemistry as it relates to cancer treatment at Yale University and Boston College for the past 25 years.
The diet itself consists of almost zero carbohydrates, but lots of natural proteins and fats. Try these five easy steps to begin a ketogenic diet:
1. Swap out red meat for fatty fish. The American Heart Association recommends limiting consumption of red meat due to high cholesterol and saturated fat. Fatty fish, such as salmon or mackerel, on the other hand, contain omega-3 fats that may reduce your risk of heart disease.
2. Snack on unsalted nuts and seeds. Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, cashews, pecans, Brazil nuts and macadamias are all good choices, along with pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds. Nuts provide mainly healthy monounsaturated fats, while seeds give you polyunsaturated fats.
3. Add olive oil to your salads and vegetables. Skip the mayo and sugar-packed salad dressings and go with olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar instead. You could also use avocado oil, canola oil or nut oil.
4. Make your own guacamole to dip vegetable sticks in. It’s important to eat vegetables on the ketogenic diet, as grains are out and you need to get fiber from somewhere. Vegetables on their own can be boring, so make low-carb guacamole using avocados, lemon juice and chilies.
5. Reach for the peanut butter when you’re craving something sweet. Natural peanut butter contains the same healthy fats as regular nuts and can be a great craving buster, while being low in carbohydrates. For something a little different, try almond or cashew butters, too.