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Thursday, 4 December 2014

Anti-cancer diets?

How many times do people say, "ohh you should try ______ because it fights cancer" or "eat loads of ________, it cured some person in America" or even "don't eat anything..starve the cancer"?

Luckily, having only ever been in the 'limbo' stage between 'never had a tumour' and 'oh look I had a probably malignant little tumour', I haven't had to go through a cancer diagnosis and rounds of chemo or radio or HRT and things like that with people throwing advice like "only eating and drinking and living and breathing lemons will CURE your cancer FOREVER" in my face. However, it isn't hard to see this kind of thing all over the internet. You don't have to look very far, or even look at all..the internet is littered with articles and personal stories and blog upon blog upon blog about how certain foods and special diets can fight cancer and how other foods and drinks 'feed' cancer and make it grow.  

Really? Hope is a great thing to have. And actually, if you think objectively, a lot of the so-called anti-cancer diets on the 'net these days are really only advocating healthier eating, which is good for anyone, and could decrease your chance of getting cancer - albeit minimally - by helping to decrease your chance of developing certain risk factors. So, by all means, go for it.

But be scrutinising. If a diet suggests anything other than a balanced selection of the 5 main food groups then I would avoid it like the plague. Fair enough, if it suggests a certain supplement in addition to your main, balanced diet, then fine. But just greens? Only certain colours of food? Simply foods from a certain group? No. Never. Not with a barge pole. This is not only unhealthy, but could potentially kill you. That is the opposite of what you want, isn't it?

I'm no-one to tell you what to do. I'm all for experimental treatments and holistic healing. My aunt was with Star Throwers in Norwich for a while before she passed away, and she also received Reiki treatments, alongside as healthy a diet as a lady with end-stage cancer can manage, and prescription medications with a little bit of palliative radiotherapy to try and reduce a particularly large and uncomfortable tumour on her hip. She enjoyed the Reiki. We believe that the treatment at Star Throwers helped in giving her a few months, rather than a few days. But you have to be careful when choosing alternative therapies and special diets, because that special diet could be entirely the wrong thing for, well, anyone, ever. Seriously, just check with your doctor or cancer nurse. They will know the ins and outs of these diets, and can tell you what you should and shouldn't do, or at least advise you in this regard.

As for me, I'm making a potentially futile attempt to stall my own chances of gaining spare cells, a chance that is already increased by family history, personal history and life in general. I don't want to have tumours. I don't want any of that. And alright, I'm not the healthiest Bob on this planet, but I am trying. I stick to a healthy diet, as much as possible. I get regular exercise in the form of walking and ice hockey. And on top of those, I like to add a sprinkle of antioxidants. A daily shot, if you like. Maybe it's an Innocent smoothie one day, and a pot of blueberries the next. There isn't a great deal of evidence to support antioxidants as a cancer-fighting mechanism but really? I'm giving it a go. 

There's not much you can do about medical history or genetics. I can't go back a few months and stop that first cell from going weird in my appendix. I can't do that for any of my relatives' tumours. It's not something I can change. But maybe I can help the other aspects of my life and hope that my cells stay healthy. Same goes for you BRCA/MEN/BRAF people. You can't unmutate your genes (yeah, ok, that's not a word, who cares?) and lessen your risk like that. Sure, you can remove your breasts and ovaries or have prophylactic treatment in some cases, but that's not always an option and even in the cases where it is, you're still genetically predisposed to cancer.

I'm not saying that extra antioxidants work against cancer, or stop you getting cancer. But they aren't going to kill me, and it's a nice chance to take.