World cancer day

Food & Nutrition

Today is world cancer day. Cancer is the biggest killer worldwide. Cancer Research UK states in 2014 there were 356,860 new cases reported.

Here are 20 ways in which to help prevent it, I am sure we will not all choose to adopt all 20. However if we take on board 10 and in turn look to be aware of the other 10 that is fantastic.

It affects many of our lives in different ways. Sometimes we are the victims of cancer, in other situations we are the family member or friend of the victim.

1. Filter your tap water
You’ll reduce your exposure to known or suspected carcinogens and hormone-disrupting chemicals. A report from the President’s Cancer Panel on how to reduce exposure to carcinogens suggests that home-filtered tap water is a safer bet than bottled water, whose quality often is not higher—and in some cases is worse—than that of municipal sources, according to a study by the Environmental Working Group. (Consumer Reports’ top picks for faucet-mounted filters: Culligan, Pur Vertical, and the Brita OPFF-100.) Store water in stainless steel or glass to avoid chemical contaminants such as BPA that can leach from plastic bottles.

2. Stop topping your tank
So say the EPA and the President’s Cancer Panel: Pumping one last squirt of gas into your car after the nozzle clicks off can spill fuel and foil the pump’s vapor recovery system, designed to keep toxic chemicals such as cancer-causing benzene out of the air, where they can come in contact with your skin or get into your lungs.

3. Marinate meat first
Processed, charred, and well-done meats can contain cancer-causing heterocyclic amines, which form when meat is seared at high temperatures, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which get into food when it’s charcoal broiled. “The recommendation to cut down on grilled meat has really solid scientific evidence behind it,” says Cheryl Lyn Walker, PhD, a professor of carcinogenesis at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. If you do grill, add rosemary and thyme to your favorite marinade and soak meat for at least an hour before cooking. The antioxidant-rich spices can cut HCAs by as much as 87%, according to research at Kansas State University.

4. Caffeinate every day
Java lovers who drank 5 or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a 40% decreased risk of brain cancer, compared with people who drank the least, in a 2010 British study. A 5-cup-a-day coffee habit reduces risks of oral and throat cancer almost as much. Researchers credit the caffeine: Decaf had no comparable effect. But coffee was a more potent protector against these cancers than tea, which the British researchers said also offered protection against brain cancer.

5. Water down your risk
Drinking plenty of water and other liquids may reduce the risk of bladder cancer by diluting the concentration of cancer-causing agents in urine and helping to flush them through the bladder faster. Drink at least 8 cups of liquid a day, suggests the American Cancer Society.

6. Load up on green greens
Next time you’re choosing salad fixings, reach for the darkest varieties. The chlorophyll that gives them their color is loaded with magnesium, which some large studies have found lowers the risk of colon cancer in women. “Magnesium affects signaling in cells, and without the right amount, cells may do things like divide and replicate when they shouldn’t,” says Walker. Just 1/2 cup of cooked spinach provides 75 mg of magnesium, 20% of the daily value.

7. Snack on Brazil nuts
They’re a stellar source of selenium, an antioxidant that lowers the risk of bladder cancer in women, according to research from Dartmouth Medical School. Other studies have found that people with high blood levels of selenium have lower rates of dying of lung cancer and colorectal cancer. Researchers think selenium not only protects cells from free radical damage but also may enhance immune function and suppress formation of blood vessels that nourish tumors.

8. Burn off your risk
Moderate exercise such as brisk walking 2 hours a week cuts risk of breast cancer 18%. Regular workouts may lower your risks by helping you burn fat, which otherwise produces its own estrogen, a known contributor to breast cancer. (Try these 14 Walking Workouts That Blast Fat.)

9. Skip the dry cleaner
A solvent known as perc (short for perchloroethylene) that’s used in traditional dry cleaning may cause liver and kidney cancers and leukemia, according to an EPA finding backed in early 2010 by the National Academies of Science. The main dangers are to workers who handle chemicals or treated clothes using older machines, although experts have not concluded that consumers are also at increased cancer risk. Less toxic alternatives: Hand-wash clothes with mild soap and air-dry them, spot cleaning if necessary with white vinegar.

10. Ask about breast density
Women whose mammograms have revealed breast density readings of 75% or more have a breast cancer risk 4 to 5 times higher than that of women with low density scores, according to recent research. One theory is that denser breasts result from higher levels of estrogen—making exercise particularly important (see #8). “Shrinking your body fat also changes growth factors, signaling proteins such as adipokines and hormones like insulin in ways that tend to turn off cancer-promoting processes in cells,” Walker says.

11. Head off cell phone risks
Use your cell phone only for short calls or texts, or use a hands-free device that keeps the phone—and the radio frequency energy it emits—away from your head. The point is more to preempt any risk than to protect against a proven danger: Evidence that cell phones increase brain cancer risk is “neither consistent nor conclusive,” says the President’s Cancer Panel report. But a number of review studies suggest there’s a link.

12. Block cancer with color
Choosing your outdoor outfit wisely may help protect against skin cancer, say Spanish scientists. In their research, blue and red fabrics offered significantly better protection against the sun’s UV rays than white and yellow ones did. Don’t forget to put on a hat: Though melanoma can appear anywhere on the body, it’s more common in areas the sun hits, and researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found that people with melanomas on the scalp or neck die at almost twice the rate of people with the cancer on other areas of the body.

13. Pick a doc with a past
Experience—lots of it—is critical when it comes to accurately reading mammograms. A study from the University of California, San Francisco, found that doctors with at least 25 years’ experience were more accurate at interpreting images and less likely to give false positives. Ask about your radiologist’s track record. If she is freshly minted or doesn’t check a high volume of mammograms, get a second read from someone with more mileage.

14. Eat clean foods
The President’s Cancer Panel recommends buying meat free of antibiotics and added hormones, which are suspected of causing endocrine problems, including cancer. The report also advises that you purchase produce grown without pesticides and wash conventionally grown food thoroughly to remove residues. (The foods with the most pesticides: celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, and blueberries. See the full list of dirtiest fruits and vegetables here.) “At least 40 known carcinogens are found in pesticides and we should absolutely try to reduce exposure,” Sellers says.

15. Do a folic acid check
The B vitamin, essential for women who may become or are pregnant to prevent birth defects, is a double-edged sword when it comes to cancer risk. Consuming too much of the synthetic form (not folate, found in leafy green veggies, orange juice, and other foods) has been linked to increased colon cancer risk, as well as higher lung cancer and prostate cancer risks. Rethink your multivitamin, especially if you eat a lot of cereal and fortified foods. A CDC study discovered that half of supplement users who took supplements with more than 400 mcg of folic acid exceeded 1,000 mcg per day of folic acid. Most supplements pack 400 mcg. Individual supplements (of vitamin D and calcium, for instance) may be a smarter choice for most women who aren’t thinking of having kids.

16. Up your calcium intake
Milk’s main claim to fame may also help protect you from colon cancer. Those who took calcium faithfully for 4 years had a 36% reduction in the development of new precancerous colon polyps 5 years after the study had ended, revealed Dartmouth Medical School researchers. (They tracked 822 people who took either 1,200 mg of calcium every day or a placebo.) Though the study was not on milk itself, you can get the same amount of calcium in three 8-ounce glasses of fat-free milk, along with an 8-ounce serving of yogurt or a 2- to 3-ounce serving of low-fat cheese daily.

MORE: How To Prevent Osteoporosis

17. Commit to whole grains
You know whole wheat is better for you than white bread. Here’s more proof why you should switch once and for all: If you eat a lot of things with a high glycemic load—a measurement of how quickly food raises your blood sugar—you may run a higher risk of colorectal cancer than women who eat low-glycemic-load foods, found a Harvard Medical School study involving 38,000 women. The problem eats are mostly white: white bread, pasta, potatoes, and sugary pastries. The low-glycemic-load stuff comes with fiber.

18. Pay attention to pain
If you’re experiencing a bloated belly, pelvic pain, and an urgent need to urinate, see your doctor. These symptoms may signal ovarian cancer, particularly if they’re severe and frequent. Women and physicians often ignore these symptoms, and that’s the very reason that this disease can be deadly. When caught early, before cancer has spread outside the ovary, the relative 5-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is a jaw-dropping 90 to 95%.

19. Avoid unnecessary scans
CT scans are a great diagnostic tool, but they deliver much more radiation than x-rays and may be overused, says Barton Kamen, MD, PhD, chief medical officer for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. In fact, researchers suggest that one-third of CT scans could be unnecessary. High doses of radiation can trigger leukemia, so make sure scans are not repeated if you see multiple doctors, and ask if another test, such as an ultrasound or MRI, could substitute.

20. Drop 10 pounds
Being overweight or obese accounts for 20% of all cancer deaths among women and 14% among men, notes the American Cancer Society. (You’re overweight if your body mass index is between 25 and 29.9; you’re obese if it’s 30 or more.) Plus, losing excess pounds reduces the body’s production of female hormones, which may protect against breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and ovarian cancer. Even if you’re not technically overweight, gaining just 10 pounds after the age of 30 increases your risk of developing breast, pancreatic, and cervical, among other cancers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Diane Pulley

Owner and Director of AspireYou
Diane Pulley is a BACP accredited and UKRC psychotherapist and Life Coach having graduated from Warwick university. She has worked in private practise for many years with clients presenting various issues, from trauma, depression, anxiety and self confidence. Diane works with both individuals and couples. Her experience has lead her to work with corporate clients delivering stress management training for both staff and management. Aspire You has been born from a personal journey, of Diane's own marriage breaking down after 28 years, when she identified there is a need to support women through this process and help them rebuild their lives. "everyone has the potential to lead fulfilling lives and i am committed to helping individuals achieve that desire"
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Diane’s Story

Two years ago I made the jump ….. I did a sky dive and jumped 15,000 feet from a plane in New Zealand. I knew if I could do that I could do anything.

I then returned home with my family and left a 28-year marriage, three businesses a beautiful home and a lifestyle!!!!

 The marriage in it’s final stages had become very much an abusive one.
However in the early years it was a happy marriage, driven by young love.

I married at 24, coming from a strict family upbringing.

I was not allowed to move into the house I had bought with my fiancée until I was married.

After being married for three years, aged 27, Hannah was born and at 30 I then had a son.

My son we later identified having ADHD and dyslexia.

My husband committed adultery when our son was just one.

I had a very hyperactive child who liked to wake at 5am.

Business took my husband away from home a lot and finally it became apparent there was someone else in the relationship.

These were the first cracks in the marriage.

However I chose to forgive him, as I still very much loved him and he in turn said he had made a huge mistake and he loved me dearly.

In hindsight …. which is a wonderful thing, I should have ended the marriage then.

Why didn’t I? I had two young children who I felt needed a father in their lives and I did not want to share my children of a weekend. Also who would want me with two children. In turn, one being both beautiful and hyperactive, all at the same time.

I chose to stay with a very low self-worth.

From the outset it was always a happy marriage, with dark episodes every 6-12 months. The dark episodes left me feeling very disempowered and wanting to leave the marriage. However some family event would be happening.

It was my sons birthday my daughter was graduating, my father was ill the dog was poorly…. Does this resonate!!!!

It was never the right time to leave.

We would then have a family holiday, this left me feeling, this is not as bad as I think it will be ok I just need to try harder.

I was a dedicated wife and mother, however I always worked and enjoyed it immensely. I chose to sacrifice a career, for my family, as they were my priority.

My husbands business was always his priority and I supported him in every way to enable that to become a success.

When the children were still at school I realised I was not utilising my academic skills and needed more mental stimulation.

I decided to retrain as a psychotherapist and Life Coach. This was incredibly empowering and rewarding, I felt alive again.

Having retrained I then became a senior BACP Accredited therapist.

I initially worked with children who had been sexually abused within Barnardos. I then moved on to work within Higher Education.

I eventually set up my own business with a private practise as a Counsellor, Life Coach and Trainer, winning a contract to work with doctors and nurses within the NHS.

In turn I also delivered Stress Management and Group Work to corporate clients, Jaguar Land Rover being one of those clients.

My work still always revolved around my role within my husbands business and the children.

Yes you may ask when did I sleep?  ….. I did, but had very little life other than work and my family.

Something had to give, so more of me disappeared ……

Whilst everything else on the surface looked like the perfect life.

I developed M.E.

When I was diagnosed my husband said go away for the week and have some rest… Not I will take you away for the week and look after you.

I would shower in a morning and have to lie down afterwards for 15 minutes to recover, the illness is so debilitating.

I could not even remember the way home from work. I can remember driving on the motorway thinking where am I going. I was on the M42, a journey I had done hundreds of times. I had to pull over and stop for a while until it came back to me where I was.

But I still continued to try to be the prefect wife and mother.

I overcame the M.E, again with the help of Hannah who took a week off work and took me away to a hotel to just relax and do nothing except sleep. Something I would not have been able to do at home, as my husband still if I was there expected me to do the ironing or pay the wages or whatever else needed doing. I was also privileged to be in the industry of self care and I knew from my knowledge of the illness and my understanding from a therapeutic perspective of how to take care of myself.

I had done a really good job of becoming burnt out!!!!

I was the epitome of a graceful swan on the outside, desperately paddling underneath the surface in order to keep afloat. A neighbour knocked the door one day as our new home did not have a door bell and said “What do you buy the lady who has everything”

I wanted to scream “If only you knew how unhappy I am”.

Breaking away from the marriage was the hardest yet most empowering thing I have ever done.

Yet then the next challenge came along ……. getting back into the world as a single woman!!

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Hanna’s Story

People underestimate the understanding children have of circumstances around them, from such a young age. But children are very inquisitive, they know what is happening.

People talk about a mother’s maternal instinct, I believe as a child you have that instinct within you for your parents well being and in my case very much for my mother.

I can remember many things throughout my childhood and teenage years. I can remember being sat on the corner of the spiral staircase, hidden whilst my parents argued. Throughout all of the arguments I did not need to hear the words that were being said, but just to know that everything was ok.

I can still remember distinctly I was around five and I heard my mom crying in the hall, there had been raised voices. I did not know if he chose to or, she had told him to leave. But at age five I just remember wanting to be there for her so I could stop her pain. It was later on I understood it was because he had had an affair.

You will hear people say the impact it has on a child when parents separate and you yourself will have your own opinion, of what is right and what is wrong.

Well I was a child of a ‘failed’ marriage whose parents did not separate until later on in life. A Large part of me wishes my mother had left when I was younger, because I witnessed every part of the love that was in their relationship disappear and turn to hatred.

But it did not effect my education – it was instilled in me that school and education were essential; it led to opportunities in life and gave you choices. I had left school, got though colleague, and because of my parents I went on to do a degree at Westminster University in business and fashion buying which I loved. Realizing for the first time, I am intelligent, I can achieve top grades despite my dyslexia, I just have to try a lot harder and put in more hours than others to attain it. I was able to use my passion and drive to push my capabilities, and achieve a first class honors degree.

But I know it could have been a very different story if my parents had separated as a child and it had happened during my school years.

A key part of my story is the relationship we share as mother and daughter. We have always been so close. We shared some dark times together, however we supported each other.

It helped having a mother as a therapist and counselor, although rather annoying at times for a teenage girl, I was very much aware of her understanding of human behavior, she did not miss a trick but it bought us closer.

Over the years, the bond we shared compelled me to support my mother even more. I recognise I compensated for my father.

Not being there for her when my grandfather passed away.

The emotion and pressure I felt to support her when she explained she had M.E. Begging him to be more understanding to take it seriously, to take some pressure off me because I could not always be there.

It is safe to say he always worked, he loved success but stress affected him. Work was the priority it came first before his family. I felt he did not really know me because of his absence. There are always secrets behind closed doors but to me it was clear day-to-day that there was a lot of unhappiness in my mother’s life. Although he tried to compensate with a beautiful home, nice cars, expensive gifts. It was not real, it does not build a relationship and it does not make you happy. It was just his way of showing love and saying sorry.

I knew when my mother left I would have to be very strong. I had wanted the marriage to end many years before, I question maybe if I had been strong enough to support her like I have now we might have left sooner.

When she had finally had enough. I knew it would not be easy, I knew my mother would need to be very strong to do it because my father would make it very difficult. He did not want his wife to leave that cooked, cleaned, the mother of his children, his personal assistant and joint director in the businesses. I knew how strong she would have to be, and I knew in turn how strong I would have to be.

I was right because it has been two years and there have been and still are so many hurdles. I reduced my social life felt guilty anytime I spent away from my mother, even when I was at work. I felt responsible and I knew mom had no one else that understood the pain like I did. You can talk to friends but you know they do not understand because they are not living it as you are and it is hard to imagine the raw emotion until you are. There are only so many times you can cry to your friends about the same issue.

But who supported me, I needed support in supporting my mother, as a child you want to help and being older, I did support her but I felt a big weight on my shoulders. I always picked myself up but there were dark days, times when I just wished someone understood the pain. We supported each other, as she likewise was the only person who I felt understood my pain. In the end I decided to see a counselor to help me manage my emotions, to have an outsider to talk to.

There are hurdles before you leave and there are the ones we face now. Divorce impacts your life for many years.

I am proud of what I have done; I am proud to say that I supported my mom and I would not have changed a thing. I also would not wish it on anybody; it is heart breaking, emotionally exhausting why should it have to be that hard?

The question everyone asks me is do you still have a relationship with your father. To that the simple answer is no. The pain he put me through, at this time I have no forgiveness left for him. You can only forgive someone so many times when they continue to make the same mistake for years, I did and I now have to think of myself.

A man that I am meant to feel the most love and safety from look up to and go to for advice is someone that has hurt me the most in the world. He was someone I most feared before we left.

He continues to hurt my mother and our freedom will come when the divorce comes through. We left two years ago and he still impacts our lives.

We have already overcome so much and from our situation AspireYou, has been born, in order for us to be able to help other women to make the change, to support them and to make a difference in their lives

A quote my mother showed me resonated, you have to climb a mountain before you can see the view.

We are so close now I can nearly see the view.