My belief as a frugal nurse is that each of us has the power to improve our health and lower our health care costs. Prevention is key, and in my posts I advocate such preventive actions as vaccinations, hand washing, adequate sleep, drug safety, exercise and a healthy diet.
Diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and, I think, is crucial to cancer prevention.
Dr. Katz interviewed a one-time student, Nicole Larizza, a nutritionist currently doing research into the effects of childhood nutrition on the development of breast cancer later in life.
Before I retired, my specialty was breast cancer, and at times I felt as if every woman in America had the disease. That’s not true, of course, but the incidence of breast cancer has certainly increased in the last 20 years, and the age at diagnosis has gotten younger. Is our risk increased by poor nutrition at a vulnerable time, that is puberty?
Cancer Prevention Starts in Childhood
Ms. Larizza explains that certain foods, soy for example, can benefit the early development of the breast and reduce the risk of breast cancer.
The food a young girl eats may directly affect her risk of breast cancer by intervening at the earliest points along the cancer continuum. The presence of antioxidants and other nutrients may protect cells from becoming damaged in the first place, and may slow down or prevent the promotion of cell damage thereafter. Conversely, toxins and anti-nutrients like sugar and synthetic fats may actually cause cell damage or create a cellular environment in which cancer grows and thrives.
Dr. Katz’s entire post is well worth reading, but here are a few of the specific foods Ms. Larizza recommends, as well as some easy tips of the “eat this, not that” variety:
- Use extra-virgin olive oil on vegetables rather than butter.
- Spread natural peanut butter, almond butter or hummus rather than cream cheese on a whole-grain bagel.
- Replace sliced cheese on a sandwich with sliced avocado.
- Make vegetarian chili loaded with kidney beans, vegetables, and spices.
- Switch to whole-grain, high-fiber pasta.
- Experiment with higher-fiber grains like wheatberries, farro, quinoa, barley, and wild rice rather than white rice.
- Blend kale leaves into a smoothie for a dose of cruciferous vegetables (and great color).
Although Ms. Larizza’s research is aimed at young girls and breast cancer, I certainly believe healthy food choices will benefit the future health of growing boys, as well.
One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is a fundamental understanding of good nutrition that they can use throughout their lives. Teaching kids at a young age to take care of themselves is a preventive action that will last a lifetime.