Preventing Cancer

Thanks to my friend Anthony who sent me the link, (thank you, Anthony!) I finally have the answer I have been waiting/searching for.  ('for which I have been waiting/searching' for the grammatical freaks out there)  Anthony linked me up to the Diet and Cancer Report.  Why is this what I have been waiting for?  Since reading The China Study by Campbell last fall, I have been trying to find someway to verify his conclusions.  If you aren't familiar with his study, his basic finding is a direct link between animal protein and cancer.  His recommendation is to limit animal protein in your diet to 10% or less of your total dietary intake.  I haven't found any credible source that would disprove his findings, but haven't found anything that would support it either.  Until now...

In comes the report from this organization.  The two main organizations behind this report are the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research.  But the WCRF has many organizations in countries around the world under its umbrella.  The point being, that this is a credible source.

What they have put out is a report entitled "Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective."  This report is the culmination of a five year study involving over 100 scientists from 30 countries.  The content was "driven by an independent panel of 21 world renowned scientists." This is critical to know because if you have ever dealt with research, you can almost always find some research out there that will support the conclusion you want.  This group was able to do what most of us can not do on our own - look at ALL the research available, compare the studies, sort out the conclusions, and determine final recommendations based on the whole body of science.  On their website you can download the report and read it in full or download the summary.  

Here are the eight general recommendations  for preventing cancer:

1. Body Fatness
Be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight.
-keep adult body mass index (BMI) between 21-23

2. Physical Activity
Be physically active as part of everyday life.
-start with 30 minutes moderate activity daily, working up to 60 minutes or more moderate or 30 minutes vigorous activity

3. Foods and Drinks That Promote Weight Gain
Limit consumption of energy-dense foods.  Avoid sugary drinks.
This one has quite a few clarifications: energy-dense foods are defined as having more than 225-275calories per 100g with a recommendation to get your food density down to about 125kcal per 100g; relatively unprocessed nuts and seeds, while energy-dense, are not considered to be of concern in promoting weight gain and provide valuable nutrients.
- sugary drinks also includes fruit juices which should be limited
- consume 'fast foods' sparingly, if at all  

4. Plant Foods
Eat mostly foods of plant origin.
- eat at least five servings of non-starchy vegetables and fruits daily (remember anything with seeds is a fruit - tomato, cucumber, peppers, etc.); eat relatively unprocessed grains or legumes with every meal; limit refined starchy foods 
"It is likely that there is further protective 
benefit from consuming more than five portions/
servings of non-starchy vegetables and fruits."

5. Animal Foods
Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat.
- consume less than 18 oz/week of beef, pork, lamb, or goat and very little of it processed; processing is defined as meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or addition of chemical preservatives
Interestingly enough they emphasize that they are not recommending diets with no meat, or no foods of animal origin.

6. Alcoholic Drinks
Limit alcoholic drinks.
- if alcohol is consumed, limit consumption to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women
They do say the following: "The evidence on cancer justifies a recommendation not to 
drink alcoholic drinks. Other evidence shows that modest 
amounts of alcoholic drinks are likely to reduce risk of coronary 
heart disease."  So, even though they are supposed to be reporting on how to reduce your risk of cancer, they don't come right out and say no alcohol even though by their own admission, the evidence justifies it.  I'm shaking my head over that one.  

In other words, if you prefer, you can keep drinking and know that you are likely to reduce your risk of coronary heart disease with that glass of wine or beer, but you are trading that risk for the opportunity to get cancer of the mouth, pharynx and larynx, oesophagus, or breast, or for men, colorectal cancer - all of which the evidence is convincing. (oh, and let's not forget it's a probable cause of liver and colorectal cancer in women)

7. Preservation, Processing, Preparation
Limit consumption of salt.  Avoid moldy grains or legumes.
- average consumption of salt from all sources to be less than 5 grams (2 g sodium) a day

8. Dietary Supplements
Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone.
- dietary supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention

So, that sums up the recommendations.  Now they didn't come right out and say that there is a direct link between cancer and consumption of animal protein.  But if you follow their recommendations, you will be eating a mostly plant based diet, a flexitarian diet, just like I adopted after reading Campbell's work.  This is enough confirmation for me, to continue to limit the amount of animal protein in my diet and for my family.

Now, before I end this post, I want to also point out the two special recommendations that they made - and remember this is in relation to preventing cancer.

1. Breastfeeding
Women to breastfeed; children to be breastfed.
-aim to breastfeed exclusively for six months and with complementary feeding thereafter
(hmmm... they didn't say "babies" to be breastfed, they said "children"...)

2. Cancer Survivors
Follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.
-all cancer survivors to receive nutritional care from an appropriately trained professional

I don't know about you, but a lot of the recommendations were things I would have related to people dieting - you know, eat right, exercise, ya-da, ya-da, ya-da.  I was not aware that so many of these lifestyle choices directly affected our risk for getting cancer.  Very enlightening report, indeed.

I hope that what you can take away from this is not discouragement - focusing on changes you may need to make that could be difficult, (no more Mike's Hard Lemonade?!?) but rather encouragement - we don't have to live in fear of getting a cancer diagnosis.  We can take proactive steps to prevent cancer.

Can I recommend a green smoothie for your first step?! ;)

 How Now Brown Cow

Well, we are seriously shopping for a new member to our family here on our little country acre.  We are going to get a milk cow.  Seems like a crazy idea for a family that doesn't even go through a gallon of milk a week.  But part of that is because I don't like giving pasteurized milk from factory farms to my children to drink, and here in Iowa it is illegal to sell raw milk.  I personally feel they are healthier without it.  But if I could give them fresh milk from our own pastured cow - now that's another story entirely.  I still think they are better off drinking water, and they now ask for it instead of juice all the time - hooray! (in fact they usually say it like this: "Mom, can I have some healthy water?")  But having some fresh milk, home-made butter and cheese, I'm totally up for that. :)

So I started researching milk cows.  The more I read up on them, the more I fell in love with the idea of a mini breed.  Mini breeds are ideal for someone in our situation where we just have one acre.  They eat and drink a lot less than their larger counterparts and are easier on the pasture.  Maintenance of fences and structure is easier too as they are not as destructive as full size cattle.  Some people don't even use a lot of fencing.  With a mini-cow you can put them on a lead tied to a tire and let them graze in your yard.  When you are ready to move them to another section you just roll the tire to another area.  Our lawn tractor may get a lot less use once we get a cow!

Dexters are the breed we are leaning towards.  I have absolutely fallen in love with a little Jersey, but her price tag is prohibitive - $1000!  I think I could probably talk them down some on the price, but we also are set to go look at a Dexter that is only $400.  Hard to justify the adorable, picture perfect Jersey when you can pick up a Dexter for that price.  Plus, the Dexter has been running with a mini bull and most likely already with calf.  That means that by July we could have a calf and all the fresh milk we can handle.  That pretty much seals the deal with the Dexter.

A Momma Dexter and calf

But aside from the great price, Dexters have quite a few qualities that make them a great choice for us:

Temperament - they are known for being docile and friendly, making them easy to handle and train.  They are really great for kids to work with.

Hardy - Dexters thrive in all climates, which is good since we can have hot, humid summers followed by sub-zero winters.  They also are easy calvers with little need for human intervention.

Thrifty - they are a good dual purpose cow, being good milkers and good beef.  They also are considered very efficient at turning feed into milk and beef.  They put out 1-2 gallons of milk a day that is 4% butterfat. (comparable to Jersey's)  They dress out at 55-60% and have a high quality, nicely marbled meat.

If you want more information on Dexters, there is a great article on Mother Earth News.
And here is a great little informational video about mini cows.

(scroll down and pause player at bottom of page to view video)

 Westfield Farm Revisited

Today was the day.  Finally.  After waiting a year!
The annual end of school year field trip with HUGS, one of our homeschooling groups.  The girls had such a great time last year, that this was a much anticipated day.  I could have asked them to eat breakfast while standing on their heads and they would have done it so we could go.
Without any further ado, here are the pics from today.

Kittens were the highlight of today.

These next pics are inside the barn where they have a hayloft jump into piles of shredded paper.  Apparently, this kicks up a lot of small particles into the air, which are completely undetectable until you take a picture with a flash.  Then it looks like it is snowing - crazy!

Time to get a pony ride before we head off for lunch.

Waiting for everyone to pile on the hayride.

I actually remembered to ask someone to get a pic of me with the girls - a rarity as I'm always the one snapping pics!

Smores for dessert.

Getting ready to head back...

Playing on haystack mountain.

That was a big drop for her, but she didn't bat an eyelash.  Just slid right off, then ran around and did it again!

 Does Food Matter?

(scroll down and pause player to view video)

I was hooked after watching this trailer and did my usual search for the title at the library.  Not there.  Then I checked with Blockbuster and they had it.  Luckily, I looked around the site a little longer because I found that on the Food Matters website under the movie section, you can order and watch this documentary right on your computer for the same price as driving to Blockbuster and renting it.  Score!  Not only that, but there are some movies that are free to watch - titles such as "The World According to Monsanto" and "Homegrown."  Check it out!  Link to online movies

So I ordered the online movie and really enjoyed watching this documentary.  I feel it is well done with good nutritional information and a good look into the problem with our current health care system as it relates to nutrition.  Anyone wanting to understand a little more about why to eat more raw foods in your diet should get their questions answered in this movie.  They go into a wide arrange of connected issues: nutrient loss in our produce, vitamin supplementation, pharmaceuticals, our health care system, and government regulation.

Here is some information that you are probably not aware of:
#1. Heart Disease             631,636
#2. Cancer                       559,888
#3. Modern Medicine         225,000

Now you aren't going to see number three on the chart with the center for disease control, but that number represents the number of deaths each year from unnecessary surgery and other hospital errors, infections obtained at the hospital, and medications. (and that is only medication that is prescribed by a doctor and taken as directed)  It comes in number three - isn't that really a staggering reality?  It comes in above stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease, accidents, and diabetes.  That number should cause concern.

On a more positive note, David Wolfe gave some great information about raw cacao beans and their nutritive quality.  Raw cacao are the highest natural source of magnesium, chromium, zinc, and copper.  It is likely the highest natural source of iron and manganese, has all the cofactors necessary for a healthy metabolism, is high in vitamin C and has the highest antioxidant content of known foods.  Ever heard commercials touting the high antioxidants in blueberries?  Here is how they stack up:

ORAC values per 100g
Raw Cacao                      26,000
Acai Berry                       18,500
Prunes                             5,770
Raisins                             2,830
Blueberries                        2,400
Blackberries                       2,036
Strawberries                      1,540
Spinach, raw                      1,260
Broccoli florets                     890
Red grapes                          739

And can I say, I just love David Wolfe in this show?!  He talks about things no one wants to talk about in polite society, but he is right on. :)  For those of you who aren't familiar with David Wolfe, he is a leader in the raw food movement and wrote one of the classics, The Sunfood Diet.  Just listening to him and all the speakers in this documentary really inspires me to keep eating lots of raw food.  I have slacked off in the last couple of weeks and have been eating more cooked food. (the cold weather didn't help!)  And just so you know, in this film he highlights eating at least 51% raw food, not all raw, so there is no excuse not to try.

What this movie really has done for me is bring me full circle to the initial thought - you are what you eat.  Americans have gotten away from eating based on what your body needs to function and be healthy, and moved to eating what tastes good.  Unfortunately, with MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, caffeine, and lots of salt, we have learned to create desire for foods that are extremely nutritionally deficient.  We are a society that is fat and happy, but slowly starving our bodies to death and we see this playing out in the increase of disease and death due to our lifestyle choices.

And since you will learn that you need to be supplementing your healthy diet with vitamins, I want to recommend a source of really good ones - Optimal Health Systems.  I used to work for this company and I know that their products are of the highest quality.  You can get a great wholefood vitamin from them.  Here is the ingredient list:

Whole Food Vitamin Blend Includes:
Carrot, Green Peppers, Oranges, Alfalfa, Nutritional Yeast, Acerola Cherry, Broccoli,
Wild Yam, Rice Bran, Spinach, Wheat Germ, Cranberry, Garlic, Papaya, Soybeans,
Molasses, and Beet Fiber.

Antioxidant Blend Includes:
Grape Seed Extract, Grape Skin Extract, and Pine Bark Extract

Opti-Blend (tm) Delivery System Includes:
Amylase, Protease I, Protease II, Lipase, Invertase, Maltase, Cellulase, Lactase, Hemiseb,
Zinc Amino Acid Chelete, Copper Amino Acid Chelete, Manganese Amino Acid Chelete, and Molasses.

Take time to read the research/education information on their site.  It is a great resource.

Now, watch the movie and go eat something raw! ;)

 My Morning in Pictures