October 2010

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By: Steve Mazzucchi

The average mouse doesn’t care much about skin cancer. Outside of Disney cartoons, you won’t see one slathering on sunscreen before heading out to dodge cats and search for cheese. But Gary Stoner, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of hematology and oncology at the Ohio State University medical center, does care about cancer. That’s why he spends his days in a lab, feeding rodents polyphenols from seaweed and learning how to shrink skin cancer-like tumors. He’s a mouse’s best friend. Maybe yours, too.

Stoner is just one of many researchers working to bring new weapons to the cancer battle. Some study humans to take a fresh look at existing theories. Others, like Stoner, are testing tactics so bold that, so far, their only subjects have tails and whiskers.

But all these approaches (seaweed included) have one very positive thing in common: They’re just plain good for you and bad for cancer cells. Here are eight strategies that just may turn the Big C into the Big See-Ya-Later. (Or, better yet, See-Ya-Never.)

Drink Pomegranate Juice

Some say this luscious, lusty red fruit is Eve’s original apple, but what the pomegranate truly banishes is cancer risk. The fruit’s deep red juice contains polyphenols, isoflavones, and ellagic acid, elements researchers believe make up a potent anticancer combo. It’s been shown to delay the growth of prostate cancer in mice, and it stabilizes PSA levels in men who’ve been treated for prostate cancer.

And now University of Wisconsin at Madison researchers have learned that pomegranate may also inhibit lung-cancer growth. If you currently smoke, have smoked in the past, or hang around in smoky places (Cleveland, for instance), the juice of the fruit could bolster your defenses.

Use it: The mice in the Wisconsin study received the human equivalent of 16 ounces of juice per day, so quaff accordingly.

Eat Blueberries

Got pterostilbene? Rutgers University researchers say this compound—found in blueberries—has colon cancer-fighting properties. When rats with colon cancer were fed a diet supplemented with pterostilbene, they had 57 percent fewer precancerous lesions after 8 weeks than rats not given the compound did.

Eat blueberries and you’ll also benefit from a big dose of vitamin C (14 milligrams per cup). In a study of 42,340 men, New England Research Institute scientists discovered that men with the highest dietary vitamin C intake (as opposed to supplements) were 50 percent less likely to develop premalignant oral lesions than men with the lowest intake were.

Use it: “About two servings daily is the human equivalent of what we fed the rats,” says Bandaru Reddy, M.D., Ph.D., a chemical-biology professor at Rutgers. Load up at breakfast: A cup and a half of blueberries over cereal, plus 8 ounces of juice and half a grapefruit (for extra vitamin C), will do the trick. If that’s too much to stomach at dawn, spread it out over the course of the day.

Relax a Little

Anxiety won’t only make you soil your shorts. Purdue University researchers tracked 1,600 men over 12 years and found that half of those with increasing levels of worry died during the study period. Talk about flunking the exam. Only 20 percent of the optimists died before the 12-year study was completed.

More anxiety-producing news: Thirty-four percent of the neurotic men died of some type of cancer. How neurotic are we talking? “Think of the biggest worrier you know—someone who stresses out over everything,” says psychologist Daniel Mroczek, Ph.D., who conducted the study. “That man is probably above the 95th percentile in neuroticism. Then think of the most cool, calm, collected man you know. He’s probably below the fifth percentile.”

Use it: To develop that critical, casual Jeff Spicoli vibe, learn to slow down your fast times: “The more time you spend in the present moment, the more relaxed you’ll be, because most mental anguish occurs over stuff that’s already happened or that may or may not happen in the future,” says Claire Wheeler, M.D., Ph.D., the author of 10 Simple Solutions to Stress. “For the most part, right now is pretty damn good. If you practice being present while shaving, for example, eventually you’ll also be more present when eating, making love, and working.”

Pop Selenium

Selenium has long been thought of as a cancer fighter, but you can have too much of a good thing, says David J. Waters, Ph.D., D.V.M., director of the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation, in West Lafayette, Indiana.

A study of almost 1,000 men, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that when those with the lowest initial levels of selenium in their bodies received a daily supplement over a 4 1/2- year period, they cut their prostate-cancer risk by an impressive 92 percent. But men who started out with high selenium were rewarded with an 88 percent increase in total cancer risk when they took the supplements. Moral: It pays to get your selenium level right.

Use it: Selenium in the body is measured through toenail clippings. Send yours to the Murphy Foundation, and for less than $100 (price varies by state), they’ll ship them to a lab and then inform you of your level 2 weeks later. If yours is out of range, the foundation will explain how to adjust your intake of Brazil nuts, tuna, meats, grains, and selenium supplements. Learn more at seleniumhealthtest.com.

Order Sushi

As mentioned, Gary Stoner is using seaweed to fight the Big C. When he fed the polyphenols from brown seaweed to mice that had been bombarded with UV rays, their incidence of skin tumors dropped 60 percent. And the polyphenols shrank existing tumors by 43 percent. Better still, the doses that produced these effects were the equivalent of only 1 or 2 tablespoons in a human being.

“Seaweed is low in calories and fat, yet it provides heart-helping fiber, bone-building calcium, and iron,” says nutrition consultant Molly Morgan, R.D., C.D.N., owner of Creative Nutrition Solutions, in Vestal, New York. “Dried, roasted seaweed sheets used in making sushi also provide vitamins A and C.”

Use it: “Eat more sushi rolls,” says Stoner. “It’s not quite the same seaweed, but it has some of the same compounds.” As a bonus, sushi itself is a great muscle food. A typical spicy tuna roll has only 290 calories but packs 24 grams of protein. Also, look for a Korean-made, seaweed-fortified drink called EntroPower (entropower.com), which should be hitting U.S. health-food stores soon.

Spend More Time Outside

Scientists have viewed vitamin D as a potent cancer fighter for decades, but there’s never been a gold-standard trial—until now. A Creighton University study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who supplemented their diets with 1,000 international units of vitamin D every day had a 60 percent to 77 percent lower incidence of cancer over a 4-year period than did women taking a placebo.

“I don’t think the effect is limited to women,” says Joan Lappe, Ph.D., the lead study author. “Vitamin D is necessary for the best functioning of the immune system—it causes early death of cancer cells.”

Use it: Nature intended us to make vitamin D from the sun, but depending on where you live, the time of year, and how much of an agoraphobe you are, you may not reach the optimal level of 80 nanomoles per liter of blood that way. A blood test can give you a baseline.

From there, Lappe recommends supplementing with 1,100 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D in a stand-alone pill every day. Vitamin D is also in sardines, salmon, shiitake mushrooms, and reindeer meat—which may explain Santa’s longevity, despite the odd hours and jelly belly.

Clear Your Air

Secondhand smoke may be even worse for you than we thought. A recent American Journal of Public Health study reveals that nonsmokers working in smoky places had three times the amount of NNK, a carcinogen, in their urine than nonsmoking workers in smoke-free joints had. And their levels of NNK rose 6 percent for every hour worked.

“There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and the greater the exposure, the higher the risk,” says the study’s lead author, Michael Stark, Ph.D., principal investigator for the Multnomah County Health Department, in Portland, Oregon.

Use it: Nine states have banned smoking in all workplaces, bars, and restaurants: Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington. So change locations, change professions, or change the laws. As you sip your pomegranate juice, sign up with Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights at no-smoke.org.

Invest a Little Sweat Equity

Study after study has pointed to the cancer-beating power of exercise. Now research from Norway has found that even a tiny dose of exercise has big benefits. A study of 29,110 men published last year in the International Journal of Cancer shows that men who exercised just once a week had a 30 percent lower risk of metastatic prostate cancer than did men who didn’t work out at all. Increasing the frequency, duration, and intensity of the exercise correlated with a further, gradual reduction in risk.

Use it: Just one bout of weekend warriorism—a company softball game, pickup basketball, racquetball with your crusty uncle—might qualify you for inclusion in the cancer-free 30 percent.

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Train your core with this novel exercise

You’ve heard of ripped abs? Well, how about an exercise that’ll make you feel like your abs are being ripped off? It’s called the kneeling cable core press and it’s designed to work your core by forcing your midsection muscles to resist movement. That’s key, since that’s really what these muscles were designed to do. The upshot: You’ll build rock-solid abs faster than you ever thought possible. Ready to try it? Check out the video above to see how to do this cutting edge abs exercise.

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By: Andrew Daniels


During the past two decades, “healthy eating” and “organic foods” have become nearly synonymous—and the American appetite for them has grown increasingly voracious (between 1990 and 2009 alone, sales in organic foods and beverages jumped from $1 billion to $24.8 billion). The benefits of consuming a more organic diet are many, including a lower risk of asthma, diabetes, Parkinson’s, certain cancers, and even autism. But the supermarket isn’t the only place where you can boost your health (and save the planet) by going organic. We sat down with Maria Rodale, CEO of Rodale, Inc. and author of Organic Manifesto, to learn a handful of easy ways that every man can live a more chemical-free life. We all have a responsibility for how this world turns out, how our families turn out, and how our futures turn out,” says Rodale, “and choosing organic is really about exercising that responsibility.” Here are 11 ways to go organic beyond the grocery store—and stay healthy for life.

Want more must-have organic tips? Watch Maria Rodale on PBS’s Growing a Greener World this Saturday, October 16. (Click here for local listings.)

Ditch the Roundup
Guys are obsessed with their lawns. “And there’s this notion that you need all of these chemical-laden products to grow a perfect one,” says Rodale. “But having a safe lawn is just as important.” Many of the most popular brands contain a suite of toxic chemicals, including glyphosate, which has been linked to birth defects. “You have to ask yourself which job is more important,” says Rodale, “protecting your family or showing off your lawn?”

Accomplish both ends with an organic herbicide like AllDown Green Chemistry Herbicide ($13, alldownherbicide.com) or Avenger Weed Killer ($12, naturesavenger.com), or by mixing water (one quart) and rubbing alcohol (one tablespoon) in a spray bottle. Boiling water works, too. “It will kill weeds, and it’s perfectly safe,” says Rodale. But aim carefully—boiling water will also cook your lawn if you don’t hit your target.

Get Rid of Raid
When you pull the trigger on an insecticide, you might think that you’re launching a surgical strike against an individual pest or its hiding place. In reality, however, such delivery mechanisms act more like air fresheners. “The spray circulates into the air, covers you, and goes into your body,” says Rodale. The solution? Mix your own insecticide. Combine 2 cups of Borax (a cleaning agent available at most grocery and hardware stores) with one cup of water and two cups of sugar in a jar or dish, and place it in an infested area. The borax will stick to the bugs’ feet and kill them. “It’s actually more effective than Raid,” says Rodale.

Watch What You Wear
Twenty percent of all agricultural chemicals in America are used to protect cotton crops. Why should you care? Clothes made from conventionally grown cotton often contain leftover pesticides, which can leach into your body through your skin. “That’s why switching to organic cotton clothing is so important,” says Rodale, adding that the benefits extend beyond personal and environmental health. “They’re typically made of better quality fabric and stitching.” In short, they’re built to last, which helps offset their slightly higher price tags. Our top picks: Patagonia (patagonia.com), Earth Creations (earthcreations.net), Truly Organic (truly-organic-clothing.com), and Ecosumo (ecosumo.com).

Walk the Walk
Shirts and slacks aren’t the only ways to dress organic. Simple Shoes (simpleshoes.com) gets our pick for best organic footwear brand. The company uses eco-certified leathers and suedes, un-bleached hemp, organic cotton, and recycled car tires to construct their kicks. When they say they’ve found a more sustainable way to do business, they’re not kidding.

Read the Label
Food manufacturers make a lot of questionable claims on product labels—especially when it comes to being organic. Unless you see a USDA-certified organic badge, it’s not the real deal. Foods given this stamp are made up of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (or, in the case of meat, raised on an organic diet without antibiotics or growth hormones). Click here for the 20 best organic foods for men.

Know Where to Cut Corners
Not all conventionally grown produce contains the same amount of pesticides. The worst offenders are peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, imported grapes, carrots, and pears. Studies show that people who eat these fruits and vegetables consume an average of 10 pesticides a day, while those who consume less contaminated produce ingest fewer than two pesticides a day. If organic isn’t an option, fill your fridge with these low-pesticide, conventionally grown alternatives: Onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, mangoes, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwis, cabbage, eggplants, papayas, watermelon, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.

Fine-tune Your Fragrance
Unlike organic foods, organic toiletries aren’t bound by any national guidelines, so you’ll have to become more adept at deciphering their labels. “Avoid anything with a lot of chemical-sounding ingredients,” says Rodale, “and steer clear of anything called ‘parfum.'” That’s the calling card of a synthetic fragrance, many of which contain phthalates—a class of endocrine-disrupting chemicals that have been linked to health issues ranging from obesity to infertility. Use organic deodorants, colognes, and lotions—like those produced by Herban Cowboy (herbancowboy.com)—instead.

Upgrade Your Grooming Habits
As with fragrances, you should steer clear of grooming products—body soaps, facial cleansers, pomades, gels, and creams—laced with synthetic chemicals. Our favorite: Anything by Joe Grooming (joegrooming.com), which uses a variety of organic ingredients—from olive oil to ginseng—in each of its products. Other brands worth considering: Dr. Bronner’s (drbronner.com), Organicare (icareorganics.com), and John Masters (johnmasters.com).

Convert Your Detergent
When’s the last time you looked at your laundry detergent’s ingredient list? We’re willing to bet never. Which is why you’ve likely never seen the word “alkyl-benzene,” a chemical that lowers the surface tension of water, facilitating the dispersion of the detergent. Unfortunately, it’s also a known toxin that has been linked to leukemia and breast cancer, according to the Global Healing Center, in Houston. All the more reason to wash your clothes with an organic laundry detergent, such as NaturOli Soap Nuts ($20, naturoli.com).

Clean with a Purpose
The use of common household cleaners like bleach and detergent can increase your risk of asthma, infertility, and birth defects, according to recent research. The good news: Of all the organic switches you can make, none will cost you less than finding alternative cleaning products.

Here’s how to make your own window cleaner, courtesy of Leah Zerbe, online editor for Rodale.com: Take 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon natural liquid soap (Zerbe recommends Dr. Bronner’s), and 2 cups water, and put them all in a spray bottle (shake to blend). Spray the substance on any glass surface, scrubbing as needed with the rough side of a kitchen sponge, and then squeegee off. There—you’ve just saved yourself a couple of dollars. Don’t want to make your own cleaner? Zerbe recommends turning to Seventh Generation (seventhgeneration.com) or Ecos (ecos.com).

Get Involved and Get Active
Perhaps the most important organic move you can make is to help others follow your lead, says Rodale. Make a difference by contributing time or money to organizations on the front lines of the organic movement, such as The Organic Farming Research Foundation (ofrf.org), Soil Association (soilassociation.org), The Organic Center (organic-center.org), The Rodale Institute (rodaleinstitute.org), or farming groups (click here for a nationwide list). “You have a lot more power than you think you have,” says Rodale. “Get involved and get active; take part in your community and learn about the issues that surround it.”

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Eating is as much about mind as matter. That’s one of the main points of “Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life,’’ by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung. Hanh is a Buddhist monk who lives in France. Cheung, 57, is a lecturer and director of health promotion and communication at the Harvard School of Public Health. Among her duties is serving as editorial director of the school’s Nutrition Source website (www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource). She has taught at Harvard since 1985, and lives in Wellesley.

Dr. Cheung’s research and work focus on the translation of scientific knowledge of nutrition and physical activity to promote healthy eating and active living for chronic disease prevention.

She is a Co-Investigator at the Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity. She was the Principal Investigator of the Qualitative Study on CDC’s School Health Index, which assessed its receptivity and impact with schools, funded by the CDC and American Schools of Public Health. She was the co-Principal Investigator of Eat Well & Keep Moving, a study funded by the Walton Family Foundation to evaluate the impact of an interdisciplinary school-based program to promote nutrition and physical activity in upper elementary students. She was the co-Principal Investigator of Treatwell 5 A Day, a study funded by the National Cancer Institute to promote fruits and vegetable consumption in worksites. She was also Director of Nutrition and Fitness at the Center for Health Communication.

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