Learning from Cancer

Cancer expert Lise Alschuler shares keys to prevention-and hope
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Lise N. Alschuler, ND, FABNO, a board-certified naturopathic oncologist, believes that there is healing potential within the experience of cancer itself. "Cancer can be a door to greater health and life-affirming well-being," she writes in her book Definitive Guide to Cancer: An Integrative Approach to Prevention, Treatment and Healing, which she co-wrote with Karolyn A. Gazella. Alschuler has also established the Web site fivetothriveplan.com, which features a free monthly newsletter with up-to-date information for people interested in cancer prevention and integrated cancer treatment. We talked with her about what she believes are the most powerful tools to prevent cancer, those found within our lifestyle-specifically, diet, activity, and sleep.

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Q:What are some of the most effective natural ways to reduce our overall risk of cancer?

a: Reducing our risk of cancer ideally starts when we are children and continues throughout our lives. A lifetime of healthy habits builds our resistance to all cancers. If we weren't wise to the benefits of healthy living as youngsters, there is still opportunity as adults to reduce our risk of cancer. Eating a diet of colorful, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, and lean protein provides us with essential cancer-fighting antioxidants, immune supportive vitamins and minerals, anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids, and plenty of other cancer-fighting phytonutrients. Add at least 30 minutes of daily exercise to this healthful diet, and you will reduce your cancer risk significantly, even up to 50 percent for some cancers. Sleep is often a neglected ingredient in cancer prevention recipes; however, it is a crucial one. Adequate sleep-at least 8 hours every night for most people-allows your body to repair damaged DNA, balance critical hormones and blood sugar, support active immunity, and stimulate detoxification of cancer-causing compounds.

Q:What are some of the most important factors for cancer survivors?

A: Cancer survivors who rediscover their connection to life, their purpose in living, and their joy in doing so will experience the most wellness. Healthful habits are much easier to implement when one is motivated, not just by fear but also by optimism and joy. People who have survived a diagnosis of cancer have typically been through a frightening and usually disempowering experience of the disease and its treatments. Learning how to once again trust one's own body, to be in a position of empowered wellness, and to fight for life is the key to turning surviving into thriving.

Q:What are the top anti-cancer nutrients?

A: Nutrients with anti-cancer benefits include the following:

  • Green tea: Intake of at least 8 cups of green tea daily has been demonstrated in many large population studies to lower the risk of almost all cancers. Green tea extract has been shown to have anti-cancer actions against many cancers, including colon, breast, and prostate cancers.
  • Essential fatty acids: EFAs from fish, seeds, and nuts reduce inflammation, which, in turn, reduces cancer risk.
  • Antioxidants: Glutathione and other antioxidants provide critical support for cell repair, detoxification of cancer-causing compounds, and strong immune surveillance.
  • Probiotics: Beneficial bacteria keep the digestive system
    and immune system functioning optimally. Healthy digestion is foundational to cancer prevention, as is a strong immune defense.

Q:Where can patients get trustworthy information about natural options?

A: Go to naturedoctor.org to find a naturopathic physician near you. Naturopathic doctors with board certification in naturopathic oncology can be found online at oncanp.org.

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