Showing posts with label cancer prevention. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cancer prevention. Show all posts

Thursday, June 5, 2014

More on the Medicine Cabinet in Your Kitchen

If our first  Medicine Cabinet in Your Kitchen article whetted your appetite to learn more about how common kitchen spices and herbs benefit your health, you’ll want to bookmark this article as well. 

Yes, it’s true; the kitchen spice rack can be a logical extension of your medicine cabinet, in thanks largely to polyphenols, the plant compounds present in many common kitchen spices and herbs. Consequently, common spices offer numerous health benefits. The benefits of the four spices we feature here include anxiety relief, improved digestion, better brain function, anemia relief,  repelling insects, reducing inflammation, and even fighting cancer and reducing tumors.

Four kitchen herbs and spices with health benefits

In this article, we explore the many health benefits of clove, coriander, cumin, and garlic.

The health benefits of cloves

Cloves – a staple in many recipes, such as ginger bread, pumpkin pie, soups, and chili – are jam-packed with bioactive elements, such as tannins, the antioxidant eugenol, and terpenoids, that aid health.

Studies on mice suggest that cloves contain cancer prevention properties that can change cellular detoxification processes for the better. Scientists believe that the cloves’ eugenol serves as an antimutagen (reducing the frequency of cell mutation) and blocks carcinogen-induced actions that damage the genetic information within a cell.  One study suggested that clove extracts can decrease colon carcinogenesis. Other benefits of clove include:
  • Inflammation relief: Clove’s eugenol and flavonoids function as anti-inflammatory substances.
  • Bug repellent: Clove oil, applied to your skin, repels mosquitoes even more effectively than citronella.
Cloves are nutrient dense – an excellent source of manganese, vitamin K, and dietary fiber.  As an added convenience, cloves can be grown year-round.

The health benefits of coriander

Not all parts of the coriander herb plant are edible, but fresh coriander leaves and dried coriander seeds are a wonderful addition to your recipes. As for your health, coriander contains lots of linalool, a compound that has been shown in studies to support the liver.

Other benefits of coriander:
  • Reduce bad cholesterol. Coriander’s good acids – linoleic, palmitic, ascorbic, and oleic – not only attack the LDL cholesterol in your blood but also elevate your good (HDL) cholesterol.
  • Reduce skin inflammation. Coriander’s essential oil cineole and its linoleic acid are known for their ability to reduce swelling caused by rheumatoid arthritis. And because coriander can induce urination, it can also reduce swelling from anemia or kidney malfunction.
  • Relieve diarrhea. Coriander’s essential oils borneol and linalool help digestion in general and bowel health in particular. One coriander study even showed that coriander can heal infectious forms diarrhea due to its antibacterial properties.
  • Clear up skin issues. Dry skin and skin fungal infections can be mollified by coriander’s antiseptic, disinfectant, antioxidant, and antifungal properties.
Also make sure to add fresh coriander leaves to your salads or appetizer dishes – coriander’s digestive properties can improve your entire meal’s assimilation.

The health benefits of cumin

Cumin seeds – a popular addition to spice racks -- are a rich and natural antioxidant source.  Research on cumin also shows that, thanks to its compound thymoquinone, cumin can suppress tumor cell proliferation. It has shown positive benefits on such cancers as colorectal, breast, skin, pancreatic, ovarian, and leukemia.  Other benefits:

  • Relieve flatulence. Cumin can prevent the formation of gas in your gut and facilitate gas expulsion. So, consider adding some cumin to your favorite bean dishes!
  • Boost blood. Studies show that, because cumin is a rich source of iron, cumin increases red blood cell count, including your blood’s hemoglobin, which aids in oxygen transportation throughout your body. Adding cumin to your daily diet can help with anemia and reduce fatigue and anxiety.
  • Enhance mental focus and improve cognition. The same hemoglobin-boosting properties that make cumin good for anemia also boost brain function, and may even aid in preventing cognitive disorders such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, according to this cumin research.
As if this isn’t enough, other cumin medical research shows it to be beneficial for removing toxins, preventing diabetes, increasing healthy phlegm production, boosting the immune system, and lactation support.

The health benefits of garlic

Garlic is one of the most popular kitchen spices, and it’s also one of the most medicinal.  We’ve previously featured a full article on garlic health benefits and history. Compelling garlic research shows that its components may lower the incidence of breast, colon, skin, uterine, esophagus, and lung cancers.
As well, garlic’s hydrogen sulfide is an effective antioxidant. Another study on garlic’s health benefits suggests that it can prevent the common cold and reduce the longevity of the cold.

Spread the word – share your recipe!

Though the free FamilyWize drug discount card can cut your pharmaceutical costs by as much as 75 percent, why not take also advantage of your spice rack to let nature do its part in preserving your health and supporting your health recovery?

If you’ve got a good recipe that uses any of the healthy spices we featured in this article – garlic, cumin, coriander, or cloves – please use the comments feature below to share with our readers.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cancer Prevention Starts Now

April is National Cancer Control Month, a time to remember those we have lost to cancer, a time to support to Americans who are working to fight cancer, and a time to increase efforts to advance cancer control and cancer cures.

While progress has  been made in fighting cancer, statistics suggest that 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year and a half million will lose their lives in 2013 to cancer.  During the 2013 National Cancer Control Month, we are at a critical moment in the history of cancer research, with many lifesaving discoveries occurring at an accelerated pace.  Yet already this month, I’ve lost a friend to cancer and I have two friends who have also lost loved ones to cancer in the past few weeks.  If you, too, have lost loved ones to cancer, then you no doubt feel the same sense of urgency that I feel – that, until the day when science and medicine are able to cure or prevent malignant cancers of all kinds, we would all be wise to protect ourselves from cancer risk to the degree that it is in our power to do so.  

Calendar reminder for doctor's appointment

Take steps NOW to reduce your cancer risks

You’ve no doubt heard the expression “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  This expression is nowhere more relevant than in cancer control and cancer prevention.   According to, your best defense against cancer is a twofold approach:
  • Make common sense lifestyle decisions to reduce cancer risk.
  • Get cancer screening for early detection.
Fruits and vegetables

What are those common sense steps that you can take can reduce your risk?
  • Avoid tobacco-smoke exposure All types of tobacco significantly heightens your cancer risk. Even being frequently around a smoker puts you at risk of lung cancer. For help and info, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit
  • Eat a healthy diet
    Many forms of cancer have been linked to unhealthy diets, such as highly processed foods.  The best way to boost your body’s effort to fight off carcinogens (substances that can cause cancer growth in living tissue) in your environment or body, and to avoid ingesting carcinogens, is to get lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, as well as minimize alcohol consumption, processed foods, and unhealthy fats. 
  • Exercise regularly Keeping yourself at a healthy weight and keeping your body in shape can go far towards reducing your cancer risk.  Try to get at least a half hour of regular, daily physical activity, but studies show that doing more than 30 minutes of moderate, regular exercise is even better.
  • Go easy on the sun exposure To protect yourself from the risks of skin cancer, limit your sun exposure by staying out of the midday sun – when the dangerous sunrays are their strongest – and use sunscreen when you must be in the sun.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
    A growing body of evidence connects alcohol consumption with cancer. Avoiding alcohol completely is your safest choice, but moderation is your next best precautionary measure.

Sunscreen in the sand

It's also important to attend appropriate and regularly scheduled cancer screenings to ensure their earliest possible detection. Most forms of cancer become harder to treat the further the cancer has progressed in your body.  The sooner a cancer is discovered in your body, the better your odds are of recovery.

Along with regular cancer screenings, certain forms of cancer, such as testicular cancer, melanoma (skin cancer), and breast cancer, can often be detected by performing regular cancer examinations. For more information on cancer self examinations, see:
If you are covered by Medicare, regular cancer screenings with a healthcare professional are likely available to you under the Affordable Care Act at no additional cost. Medicare provides coverage for the following types of cancer screenings:
  • Breast Cancer
  • Cervical and Vaginal Cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
For more information on cancer and cancer prevention, as well as National Cancer Control Month, see

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

All Hail to Kale – The King of the Greens

If you want to punch up your cancer prevention and reduce bad cholesterol, you need the Kale K.O.   We all know how good spinach is for us, but kale gives spinach a run for its money, delivering the knockout punch when it comes to anti-inflammatory properties, system detoxification, and reducing cancer risk.  In fact, the respected George Mateljan Foundation’s World's Healthiest Foods site calls kale “one of the healthiest vegetables around.” WebMD goes so far as to call kale “one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet.”  Maybe it’s time for you to explore the wonders of kale, not only for your health but for your palate.

Kale leaves
Look for kale leaves that are firm and deeply colored

Kale health benefits – and good taste!

Though lesser known than some of the more common greens we use in salads, like lettuce or spinach, kale has a pleasantly mild flavor and tons of health benefits you should know about.  The health benefits of kale include the following:
Kale is nature’s multivitamin
Kale is a great way to get a multitude of critical vitamins into your system – and in the most natural of forms.  A cup of cooked kale loads you up with vitamin K (1327.6% RDA!) as well as vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, fiber, copper, tryptophan, calcium, vitamin B6, potassium, iron, magnesium, and more.
Kale is the king of flavonoids
Flavonoids are plant-based antioxidants that prevent disease and stave off aging. You get more than 45 different flavonoids in every bit of kale, especially the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powerhouses kaempferol and quercetin.  If you want to reduce chronic inflammation and avoid oxidative stress, eat kale.
Kale reduces cancer risk
Scientists reporting in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tell us that kale consumption can reduce your risk of getting colon cancer, bladder cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer.  Kale does this with its glucosinolates (a cancer-preventive catalyst) and its abundance of the antioxidant vitamin K.
Kale detoxifies
Kale K.O.’s the toxicity in your body, thanks to its isothiocyanates (ITCs) and  glucosinolates, which regulate detoxification at the cellular and genetic level. Also aiding in detoxification is kale’s high amounts of sulfur compounds.  Combined with the ITCs, kale’s nutrients work wonders in protecting your body from toxins, both ingested and from the environment.
Kale can lower cholesterol 
Kale is great for you raw, but when you steam kale, it unleashes a cadre of extra cholesterol-lowering benefits. The trick is to boost kale’s binding of its fiber-related components.  Steaming does this, empowering kale to grab onto your digestive tract’s bile acids, which can then be more readily excreted.  And getting rid of that bile lowers your cholesterol levels.

Organic kale
Organic kale is the least likely to be contaminated with insecticides

Any kale health risks?

Given how good kale is for you, you may be surprised to know that, yes, there are some health risks or food combination issues with kale. 
  • Because of its extraordinary amounts of vitamin k, there are risks if you are taking an anticoagulant drug, such as warfarin. 
  • Kale also contains naturally occurring oxalates, which may block the calcium benefits of dairy products when eaten together. 
  • Because of the oxalates, also avoid kale if you have kidney or gallbladder issues.
  • A 2012 report about pesticides in produce cautions that conventionally grown kale is often contaminated with insecticides that are toxic to the nervous system, and therefore recommends getting kale that is grown organically.
  • Kale may interfere with thyroid function if you have goiter issues.
As with any dietary changes, consult your doctor before adding kale to your diet.

How to buy, store, and eat kale

When selecting kale, the healthiest leaves are firm, deeply colored, and don’t have floppy stems.  To keep your kale its freshest, store it unwashed in an air-tight bag in your fridge.
Kale smoothie
One of the easiest ways to enjoy kale raw is to simply add some to any fruit smoothie. 
It will give it a nice green color and its neutral flavor blends well with your other ingredients. 

You can also enjoy it as a crunchy snack using this Cheesy Kale Chips recipe if you have a dehydrator.  I love this one.  Not only is it tasty, but it’s portable, easy to consume on a hike or as a playground munchie for your kids.

Even if you don’t have a dehydrator, you can make kale chips by drizzling a bit of olive oil onto bite-sized pieces of kale, adding a little salt, and then baking on a cookie sheet.  Set your oven to 350 degrees and you should have them ready for munching in less than 15 minutes.

Here are some real kale recipe zingers from
A couple more kale recipes on my try-it list from the Web include this sautéed Kale recipe from Bobby Flay and this chicken and kale casserole from Martha Stewart.   Any way you cut it, kale is a food you want to add to your diet. 

If you have any personal experience with adding kale to your diet, or if you have any killer kale recipes to share, please use the comments below. 

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Monday, October 8, 2012

Think Pink Part II - Ways to Help and Get Help

pain in breast breast cysts

Women have a one in eight chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetimes, according to the National Cancer Institute. A number of different risk factors contribute to a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society lists the following risk factors:
  • Gender - Women are at greater risk than men, although men can get breast cancer.
  • Age - Risk increases with age. 
  • Dense breast tissue - this type of tissue is at greater risk to develop cancer. Dense tissue also makes it more difficult to feel a lump or see one on a mammogram.
  • Family History - A history of breast cancer in a close blood relative, your mom, sister or daughter.
  • BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 Genes - Having these genes does not automatically mean you will get breast cancer and not having them does not mean you will never get it.
  • Some benign breast conditions - Fibrosis, cysts, some benign tumors.

Additional risk factors include lifestyle choices that we can control:
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Post-menopausal without having used menopause drugs
  • Being physically inactive throughout much of life

Living with Breast Cancer

Facing a cancer diagnosis is never easy, even if you have been diagnosed before. There are many questions and fears that race through your mind. Many women find that keeping a cancer journal is a helpful outlet to voice things you may not want to say out loud.

Telling your kids about your breast cancer diagnosis may be the most challenging thing you will have to do after you’ve been diagnosed. advises that it is best to be honest with your children rather than hiding your breast cancer from them.

Talking to Young Children as well as older children and teens can be challenging because each age group has a different awareness of the disease and each reacts differently to emotional stress. advises:

  • Be honest about your diagnosis and don't hide information.
  • Be prepared for their fears about their own health as well as anxiety about the future.
  • Scheduling family meetings where kids can talk about their fears about the changes they see happening.

A personalized story or storybook that you can share with your young child or children might be helpful. Telling friends and family, especially children, about a cancer diagnosis is difficult and scary. Beyond The Shock, a free online resource dedicated to helping women and their families deal with breast cancer, has information for dealing with all aspects of breast cancer.

Remember, you are not alone and other women have gone through each stage of breast cancer. There are breast cancer support groups where you can find advice for talking to family members. Caring Bridge is a free online resource that helps families deal with breast cancer. There are links to leave messages of hope for loved ones, a family support planner and many other links to get involved.

A breast cancer diagnosis does not automatically mean your cancer is incurable. Early diagnosis and a wide variety of treatment options are turning women into survivors every year. Don't be afraid to make plans to do the things you love. One of my friends was diagnosed with an aggressive form of inflammatory breast cancer over three years ago. She chose to change a lot of things in her life, such as diet and exercise, in an effort to counteract the affects of her treatment and to minimize the risk a recurrence. I admire her so much for her strength and sheer will, not only to survive but to thrive. We often laugh because, no matter how bad she felt during the week or how down she got, she made time to go out and enjoy hot wings and beer with her husband every Friday night! If laughter is truly the best medicine, she's living proof.

Cancer research
The Cleveland Leader, Breast Cancer Awareness Walk

Staying ahead of the Curve

Even if you have no personal or family history of breast cancer, stay on top of your annual mammograms and monthly self breast exams. If, during your self-breast exams, you notice a breast lump, pain in breast or breast area, or breast cysts, it is vital to call your doctor and schedule an appointment to get it checked out. More often than not, the lumps and bumps we may find may simply be a cyst in breast tissue that forms during your normal menstrual cycle, but it isn’t worth taking the chance to wait and see if it goes away on its own.

Unfortunately, money issues sometimes cause us to put our own health needs on hold. Insurance companies cover yearly mammograms for women age 40 and over, but if you are younger and you need a mammogram, or you are uninsured, you may be eligible for a free mammogram. Search for “free mammograms +” and your state’s abbreviation to find clinics and programs that provide mammograms free of charge or at very low cost. The National Breast Cancer Foundation also works to provide women with free mammograms, as well as support services.

One final thing to keep in mind as we do our part to reduce our risk of breast cancer. Take the time to eat healthy and include exercise in our daily routine. The National Breast Cancer Foundation shares the following healthy habits to reduce our risk of getting breast cancer:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stay physically active
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Get regular screenings

Be sure to speak with your doctor if you think you have a family history or other risk factors to consider, as this might unveil additional practices for you to try in cancer prevention.

Stay tuned for our next article in the breast cancer miniseries, which will focus on pink ribbon products you can buy to support the fight for a cure!

Kathryn M. D'Imperio
Contributing Writer