The Diet-Health Connection 

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Having lost a few friends and family members to cancer, I know how crucial it can be to find the most up-to-date information on how to prevent cancer through proper diet and lifestyle choices.

It's even more pressing when you consider that only 5 to 10 percent of cancer cases are genetic, according to the Dr. David Heber, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition and author of "What Color Is Your Diet?"

A vast majority of cancers − at least 90 percent at the time of the book's publication in 2002 − occur in people with no family history of the disease. It's less a case of bringing bad genes to the family table, and more a matter of bringing poor dietary and lifestyle choices to the table. Dr. Heber writes that "individuals eating a plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables have a reduced rate of most common forms of cancer."

Poor dietary choices, including eating too much sugar, can cause damage to the cells and DNA, which is how many cancers begin. Dr. Patrick Quillin, author of "Beating Cancer With Nutrition," calls sugar a "cancer feeder." He also says that more than 40 percent of cancer patients actually die from malnutrition. Proper nutrition can also improve the outcome of cancer treatment by increasing the tumor-killing capacity of chemotherapy, radiation and hyperthermia, and by decreasing toxic side effects of radiation and some chemotherapy. Good nutrition also makes chemo and radiation therapy more of a selective toxin against cancer and not a general toxin upon the patient.

It starts early. In North America, more children and adolescents die of cancer than of any other disease. Dr. David Katz of Yale's School of Public Health says that "children are harmed more by poor nutrition than drugs, alcohol and tobacco combined." Our children are consuming way too much of the wrong foods, and not enough of the good, healing foods, like fruits and vegetables.

I teach my audiences to ask themselves a simple question before consuming anything: "Is this food or beverage going to help, heal and create my cells and DNA, or is it going to damage, mutate and kill?" More and more research is indicating that dietary habits are the key to preventing cancer and almost every other disease, including, obviously, obesity.

Speaking of obesity, in 2005, 60 percent of Virginians were considered overweight and 24 percent were obese. Virginia ranks 25th in the nation for childhood obesity, and 30 percent of our children are either overweight or obese. A study at the University of Baltimore gives Virginia a D for its efforts to control overall obesity and an F for its efforts to control childhood obesity.

In an effort to combat these statistics, the Obesity Action Coalition has organized the first annual "Walk for Children's Health" Saturday, Nov. 3, at Byrd Park at 11 a.m. Health education materials, interactive booths and other information will be available at the event. More information can be found at www.walkfromobesity.com.

Resources:"The China Study"

by Dr. T. Colin Campbell

"Beating Cancer With Nutrition"

by Dr. Patrick Quillin




A Richmond resident, nationally recognized as The Queen of Health, Tami Hulcher is a health educator, mother of three, and president and chief executive of Ola Loa Inc. For more information, call 323-3222 or visit www.thequeenofhealth.com.




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