Benjamin Franklin famously quipped that, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And nothing could be truer when it comes to preventing cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database, nearly one in every two American men will develop cancer at some point in their lives, and one in four will die of this disease. The picture is a little less grim for women, who have a 38 percent lifetime risk of being diagnosed with a malignancy and a 20 percent risk of cancer death.
Obviously, some of the risk factors for cancer are beyond your control. However, there are several tips for preventing cancer you can employ—starting today—to increase your odds of being one of the “lucky” ones who sidestep this dreaded disease.
Aspirin Slashes Risk Factors for Cancer
In a landmark study published in 2010 in The Lancet, Oxford University researchers analyzed data on more than 25,000 patients involved in eight randomized, placebo-controlled trials that evaluated the effects of daily aspirin. Although the original studies examined aspirin’s effects on heart attack and stroke, the Oxford team looked at the participants’ medical records and zeroed in on cancer deaths—both during the trials, which lasted four to seven years, and afterward, for a total of 20 years.
They found that regular use of aspirin reduced the risk of death from cancer by an average of 20 percent during the clinical trials. There was a delayed effect, however. The bulk of the benefits emerged only after five years of daily aspirin use, and at that point there was a 34 percent reduction in cancer mortality. Earlier research has shown aspirin’s protective effects in colorectal cancer. This study, however, demonstrated that it also decreased death from cancer of the pancreas, brain, stomach and prostate as well as adenocarcinomas of the esophagus and lung.
Equally important, long-term follow-up revealed that aspirin’s protective effects were enduring. After 20 years, study participants who had taken aspirin had a significantly lower risk of death from cancer of the esophagus (60 percent lower), bowel (40 percent), lung (30 percent) and prostate (18 percent, although this didn’t qualify as statistically significant).
Let me make it clear that these folks didn’t necessarily take aspirin for 20 years. Some likely continued it after the clinical trials were completed and some didn’t. But one trend clearly emerged: The longer the trial—and thus the duration of aspirin use—the greater the protection.
More Tips for Preventing Cancer
My patients and subscribers regularly ask me about preventing cancer, and taking low-dose (75–81 mg) aspirin daily is a great start. Here are six more cancer prevention tips.
Eat a plant-based, fiber-dense diet with ample servings of berries, leafy greens, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, cooked tomatoes, onions and garlic. For extra fiber, grind one-fourth cup of flaxseed daily and add it to salads, soups, cereals or beverages.
Eat salmon or other omega-3–rich fish two or three times a week, and take a minimum of 2 g of supplemental fish oil every day.
Get at least half an hour of moderately strenuous exercise most days of the week.
Take a potent, antioxidant-rich daily multivitamin and mineral supplement. Add extra vitamin D, and consider curcumin and other immune-boosting supplements; use as directed.
Maintain your ideal weight and get a handle on insulin resistance and diabetes.
Now it’s your turn: Do you have any tips for preventing cancer you’d like to share?
You May Also Be Interested in