Saturday, January 14, 2012


Cancer is the one scourge that can strike any of us at any time in life. It can hit
in the places we think about and care about on a daily basis—the skin, the
lungs, the brain—or in obscure places we don’t even understand, like the pancreas,
the kidneys, or the lymphatic system.
Simply put, cancer develops when cells in one part of the body begin to grow
out of control. As children, our cells are constantly dividing, creating the new
cells that help us grow. Once we reach adulthood, that cell growth stops, for
the most part. Once we reach our genetically programmed height and weight,
cells in most parts of the body divide only to replace worn-out or dying cells
or to repair injuries. (That’s why there’s no mid-thirties growth spurt, much as
we may wish for it.)
But cancer cells act like kids—they keep growing, dividing, and multiplying,
outliving our normal cells and interfering with the various functions of the
body. The most common type of cancer among men is prostate cancer (the
prostate is the gland located behind the scrotum that produces most of our
seminal fluid). The most common type of cancer among women is breast
cancer. Both result in about a quarter million new cases every year.
We don’t fully understand what causes cancer, but we do know some of the
risk factors: Obesity, low-fiber diets, smoking, heavy alcohol use, overexposure
to the sun, and exposure to radiation and other toxins are among the
biggest dangers. Additionally, there’s a strong link between heredity and
cancer; if one or more close relatives has suffered a bout of the disease,
you’re at increased risk for cancer in general and for that specific form of
cancer in particular.
I’d like to tell you that the Abs Diet is a magic bullet against cancer, but I can’t;
while dietary changes and exercise can dramatically decrease your risk for
heart disease, stroke, and especially diabetes, cancer remains a bit more elusive.
Still, by adopting the principles of the Abs Diet, you’ll automatically decrease
your risk for many forms of cancer, because you’ll decrease your weight
and increase your fiber intake. In the meantime, you can also follow these additional
tips to slash your risk even more.
Toss in the tomatoes. Tomatoes are one of the best sources of lycopene, a
nutrient that has been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells. In
fact, researchers say that two to four servings of tomatoes a week can cut your
prostate cancer risk by 34 percent. (Even better news: Lycopene isn’t diminished
by cooking, so pasta sauce and pizza will strike a blow against the disease
as well.)
H O W T H E A B S D I E T W O R K S 73
Color your plate. A 14-year study found that men whose diets were highest
in fruits and vegetables had a 70 percent lower risk of digestive-tract cancers.
Order the Chilean red. Chilean cabernet sauvignon is 38 percent higher than
French wine in flavonols—compounds called antioxidants that help deter
Try the cheese platter. A large-scale study of 120,000 women found that premenopausal
women who consumed a lot of dairy products, especially low-fat
and fat-free ones, ran a lower risk of breast cancer. Pay attention, men: You
can get breast cancer, too. And Harvard researchers have found that men with
diets high in calcium were up to 50 percent less likely to develop some forms
of colon cancer.
Squeeze a carrot. One 8-ounce glass of Odwalla Carrot Juice—pure pressed
carrot juice—gives you 700 percent of your daily recommendation for betacarotene
(and only 70 calories). Beta-carotene has been linked in several
studies to a lower risk of cancer.
Bite the broccoli. It contains a compound called indole-3-carbinol, which has
been shown to fight various forms of cancer. Don’t like broccoli? Try daikon,
an Asian radish that looks like a big white carrot. It’s a distant cousin.
Serve the salmon. Or any other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s
can help mollify your cancer risk.
Order drinks with a twist. According to University of Arizona research,
lemon zest and orange zest contain d-limonene, an antioxidant that can reduce
your risk of skin cancer by up to 30 percent if you consume quantities as
small as 1 tablespoon per week.
Go green. In a recent Rutgers University study, mice given green tea had 51
percent fewer incidences of skin cancer than control mice. Green tea is another
great source of cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Get a D. Foods high in vitamin D, like low-fat milk, help detoxify cancercausing
chemicals released during the digestion of high-fat foods, according
to a study at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Be Popeye. Japanese researchers found that neoxanthin, a compound in
spinach, was successful at preventing the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Show yourself the whey. Whey protein is a great source of cysteine, a major
building block of the prostate cancer–fighting agent glutathione.
Eat the whole grain. Whole-grain carbohydrates are a great source of fiber.
European researchers found that men with the highest daily intakes of fiber
also had a 40 percent lower risk of developing colon cancer.

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