YOU Tips: 5 Ways to Prevent Cancer

Take steps now to protect yourself from cancer.
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While a wide-open frontier of medicine is finding cures for cancers, our job in the meantime is to avoid getting them in the first place. Of course, genetics plays a large role, but that doesn't mean that you're simply a card in a game of cancerous blackjack. Luck doesn't determine everything; in fact, we'd argue that you have enough control to make sure it doesn't. The main thing you can do to decrease your chances of cancer is reduce the repetitive injury to your normal cells—so that there's less chance that p53 will make a mistake and allow cancer to kill off a weakened but necessary cell, and then grow and spread.

How do you do that? By being aware and taking steps to protect yourself against many of the Major Agers that we have already discussed, such as toxins, infections, mitochondrial damage from oxygen free radicals and genetic defects. In addition, take these steps to help prevent the birth (and spread) of cancer cells. See the next page to get started.

Excerpted from "YOU: Staying Young" by Michael F. Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. Copyright © 2007 by Michael F. Roizen, M.D., and Oz Works LLC, f/s/o Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.

1
Fortify Yourself With Vitamin D
Getting limited amounts of sun and taking vitamin D supplements can decrease your risk for cancer.
Getting limited amounts of sun and taking vitamin D supplements can decrease your risk for cancer.
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Vitamin D decreases the risk of cancer, perhaps because it's toxic to cancer cells. The other theory is that D bolsters the ability of the guard dog p53 gene to spot cancerous cells and kill them. Most Americans don't get enough D because we're indoors most of the time, and when we're outdoors, we're wearing sunscreen. We recommend getting 800 IU a day if you're younger than sixty and 1,000 IU if you're over sixty. You can do it through supplements or food (though you probably won't get more than 300 or so IUs through food alone, so supplementation is smart). Getting some sunlight, ideally around twenty minutes daily of direct exposure, is also protective. You cannot get enough sun in most of the U.S. and all of Canada between October 1 and April 15 to turn inactive vitamin D into active vitamin D. So we recommend you get insurance D in foods supplemented with vitamin D3 or in supplements. Don't get more than 2,000 IUs a day.

2
B Protected
Folate, found in orange juice, can be boosted with supplements.
Folate, found in orange juice, can be boosted with supplements.
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Research shows that a deficiency of folate, part of the B complex of vitamins, is linked to cancer. Folate supplementation decreases colon cancer rates by 20 percent to 50 percent, but more than 50 percent of Americans don't even get the recommended amount, and 90 percent don't get the amount that seems to reduce colon cancer (800 micrograms a day). Lots of foods — like spinach, tomatoes, and orange juice — contain folate, but it's absorbed less well than folic acid from supplements. The average intake of folate through food is 275 to 375 micrograms, so you need a supplement of about 400 micrograms to reduce your risk of cancer. That's especially important if you're allowing sun exposure to deplete your folate levels, which happens when you get more than twenty minutes of sun exposure a day. Be sure to add B6 and crystalline B12.

3
Get Sauced
Studies show that the risk of developing certain cancers decreases when you eat 10 or more tablespoons a week of tomato sauce.
Studies show that the risk of developing certain cancers decreases when you eat 10 or more tablespoons a week of tomato sauce.
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As if your grandmother's spaghetti sauce recipe weren't enough incentive. Studies show that the risk of developing certain cancers decreases when you eat 10 or more tablespoons a week of tomato sauce. Many believe that the active ingredient responsible is lycopene, a carotenoid known for its antioxidant properties. All tomato products contains lots of lycopene, but it's more available to your body when it's cooked. While you're at it, add some cruciferous vegetables like broccoli to your sauce. They contain chemicals that prevent cancer.

4
Oil On
Olive oil may help deter cancer.
Olive oil may help deter cancer.
©iStockphoto.com/VMJones

In a test of olive oils, researchers found anticarcinogenic properties in monounsaturated fat. That would mean that olive oil, rich in monounsaturated fat, is not only a heart helper but may also deter cancer. That helps explain why, compared to northern Europeans, southern Europeans, whose diets tend to overflow with the oil, have lower rates of both heart disease and cancer.

5
Tea It Up
Green tea is high in antioxidants.
Green tea is high in antioxidants.
©iStockphoto.com/knape

Green tea has been shown to have the highest content of polyphenols, which are chemicals with potent antioxidant properties (believed to be greater than even vitamin C). They give tea its bitter flavor. Because green tea leaves are young and have not been oxidized, green tea has up to 40 percent polyphenols, while black tea contains only about 10 percent. Another interesting note: Green tea has one-third the caffeine of black tea. Even better, it's been shown to yield the same level of excitement and attentiveness, but in more even levels than the ups and downs associated with other caffeinated drinks. Just don't drink milk with it; the casein in milk has been shown to inhibit the beneficial effects of tea.

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Excerpted from "YOU: Staying Young" by Michael F. Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. Copyright © 2007 by Michael F. Roizen, M.D., and Oz Works LLC, f/s/o Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.