Everything You Should Eat to Lower Your Risk Today
Far too many of us, myself included, are familiar with receiving devastating news regarding cancer. Either someone we love or ourselves has been given this dreaded diagnosis all too often. While cancer treatment, particularly blood cancer treatment, improves daily and we have more hope than ever, it remains a life-changing and often tragic diagnosis. Blood Cancer UK defines what the broad term blood cancer means to our health:
Blood cancer is a type of cancer that affects your blood cells. Leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma are some of the most common types of blood cancer.
How to Reduce Risk Factors
Yet, we can reduce our cancer risk in countless ways, and many of these best practices are related to our lifestyles and diet. For example, most of us are aware that certain habits, such as smoking, alcohol, excessive sun exposure and a sedentary lifestyle, increase our risk of developing many types of cancer. More specifically, Yale Medicine states that:
Risk factors for blood cancer are not fully understood, though it is believed that blood cancers develop from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Smoking, radiation exposure and exposure to certain chemicals have all been linked to increased risk of some types of blood cancers. Epstein-Barr virus, HIV and human T-cell lymphoma/leukemia virus infections are also risk factors for developing lymphomas and leukemias.
Like many other cancers, our daily choices, such as a healthy diet, may reduce our risk of developing blood cancer. Specifically, the Mayo Clinic notes that “although eating healthy foods can't ensure cancer prevention, it might reduce the risk.” Moreover, a healthy diet is easier to achieve than you might think; simple changes include avoiding the drive-thru and choosing whole, natural foods over heavily processed foods.
Foods to Eat to Reduce Risk
CancerChoices advises on many lifestyle choices that may reduce your cancer risk, including how to include cancer-fighting foods into your daily diet. While there isn't a specific and rigid ‘cancer diet,’ there are several best and worst choices that you can make when meal planning. First, try to avoid heavily processed and refined foods and excess amounts of red meat. Secondly, choose cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and brightly colored vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, squashes and sweet potatoes.
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Instead of manufactured foods, choose plant-based and whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Whole grains include many yummy options: quinoa, black, brown, red rice, millet, farro, bulgur and barley. CancerChoices states that “what you eat can reduce inflammation—making your body (your terrain) less supportive of cancer growth—and reduce your risk of recurrence.”
Green tea, rich in antioxidants, is an excellent choice as it offers many health benefits. Research suggests that green tea may help with different types of cancer, heart disease, obesity, and liver disease. However, more research is required to determine green tea’s effectiveness in disease prevention.
The Cancer Council recommends consuming fatty fish, rich in omega-three fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines, swordfish and mackerel, which are great for our overall health. However, this council also states that:
Cancer prevention recommendations that are based on strong evidence do not include eating fish because the evidence is not yet strong. However, because of the overall health benefits of fish and omega-3 fats, Cancer Council recommends:
- Eating fish (preferably oily) at least twice per week; and
- Including some plant foods and oils rich in omega-3 fats in your diet.
Sugar does not cause cancer, but excessive amounts of sugar and foods high in sugar may have a negative impact on your overall health. Your blood sugar levels are best discussed with your healthcare team, particularly if you have received a cancer diagnosis or have Type 1 or Type 11 diabetes. In these cases, you may need to follow a more detailed and specific diet designed by a registered nutritionist or dietician. Managing your blood sugar levels can be quite complicated, so seek guidance from an expert.
Darzalex is a prescription drug used to treat multiple myeloma in adults, typically in concert with other prescription drugs and when other treatments have not been successful. Polivy is also a prescription drug used to treat adults with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, where other treatments have not succeeded. Like all prescription drugs, there are pros and cons to taking Darzalex or Polivy; discuss your best course of treatment with your healthcare team. Aflac may provide additional insurance coverage should the unthinkable happen to you or someone in your family; supplemental health insurance coverage may assist with the cost of blood cancer prescription drugs and treatments for blood cancer.
Maintaining a healthy weight throughout your lifetime is beneficial for many reasons, including reducing your risk of diabetes, heart disease, as well as some forms of cancer. Being physically active is not a burden once you find something you love; activity does not necessarily mean going to the gym. Try dancing, hiking, biking or swimming! Aim to be active for at least thirty minutes a day, every day.