The notion of using food to prevent or delay the onset of certain ailments is centuries old—Hippocrates himself is famous for saying “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” But, as more and more research is devoted to exploring how what we eat affects what diseases we get, the movement is just now gaining mainstream attention.
Recently, the Journal of the American College of Nutrition featured a list of dietary pointers compiled by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—a nonprofit group of health care professionals who advocate for preventive medicine—aimed at reducing a person’s risk for developing certain types of cancer.
Dietary pointers tell us that having too much meat, cheese or alcohol can be linked to cancer. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
The argument that good nutrition is enough to ward off deadly diseases has its fair share of supporters and detractors. But the authors of the guidelines point out that their recommendations are “based on the principle that diet changes are justified, even when evidence on certain issues are up for debate.”
Here are a few of their tips:
Steer clear of red and processed meats.
Eating just one simple sausage link per day could up your colorectal cancer risk by 20 percent, while a small steak could bump it up to 28 percent. This is due to the cancer-contributing compounds found in many red and processed meats—nitrites, too many amino acids, heme iron and heterocyclic amines.
Take it easy on the alcohol.
The notion that a nightly glass of red wine is good for your heart is often used as an excuse to imbibe more often. But you may want to go easy on that extra serving. An additional drink each week increases larynx, pharynx and mouth cancer by as much as 24 percent. And since it’s the alcohol—as opposed to the additives—that appears to create problems, no alcoholic beverage is entirely benign.
Beware of certain meal prep methods.
Broiling, frying and grilling meats contributes to the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Eating HCAs may impair DNA functioning in the body, which can aid the growth of colorectal cancer.
Decrease your dairy intake.
For men seeking to avoid prostate cancer, abstaining from too much dairy may be an important step. A daily regimen of two glasses of milk has been shown to increase prostate cancer risk by as much as 60 percent in some men. And calcium supplements aren’t necessarily safe either. Men who take more than 400 milligrams of calcium each day could up their chances of prostate cancer by 51 percent.
Make friends with fruits and veggies.
A well-worn piece of food wisdom that nonetheless bears repeating, evidence consistently shows that men and women who consume greater amounts of fruits and vegetables are healthier overall. Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables (kale, cabbage and broccoli, in particular) may help reduce colon cancer risk by as much as 18 percent, according to the Physicians Committee experts. For women, carrots and sweet potatoes have been dubbed especially potent at combating breast cancer. And (even though you may need an extra breath mint afterwards) increasing your intake of allium vegetables like garlic and onions could cut your gastric cancer risk.
Certain women should seek soy.
Soy is a much-debated dietary element—especially when it comes to cancer. Some studies indicate that women who eat more soy have a decreased risk for developing breast cancer. Yet other investigations highlight a potential increase in cancer risk that corresponds with an increase in soy consumption. “Research on soy and cancer is highly complex, controversial and evolving,” according to Dr. Marji McCullough, strategic director of the American Cancer Society’s nutritional epidemiology and epidemiology research program. McCullough points out that the negative evidence against soy largely comes from studies conducted on mice and other rodents, which means that it may not be directly applicable to human beings. While the jury’s still out in terms of a definitive answer, McCullough says soy probably isn’t harmful, and the Physicians Committee doctors claim that natural forms of soy—organic tofu, tempeh and edamame are healthy options for women seeking to lessen their breast cancer risk.
In essence, these dietary recommendations closely mirror the ones espoused by many nutritional experts: load up on fruits and veggies, keep red meat and dairy products to a minimum, enjoy the occasional glass of alcohol and try to get most of your vitamins and minerals from natural foods, as opposed to supplements.
As study author Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee says, “There’s considerable benefit—and no harm—in loading up with plant-based foods. Large bodies of research show fruits, vegetables and legumes offer a variety of protective properties, so why not move these foods to the center of our plates?”
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- 29 Wildfires Blaze Across the West, Fueled by Drought and Wind ... ›
- Large Wildfires Scorch Forests in Drought-Stricken Southwest ... ›
Accessibility to quality health care has dropped for millions of Americans who lost their health insurance due to unemployment. mixetto / E+ / Getty Images
Accessibility to quality health care has dropped for millions of Americans who lost their health insurance due to unemployment. New research has found that 5.4 million Americans were dropped from their insurance between February and May of this year. In that three-month stretch more Americans lost their coverage than have lost coverage in any entire year, according to The New York Times.
- Trump Plans to End Federal Funding for COVID-19 Testing Sites ... ›
- 'Unfathomable Cruelty': Trump Admin Asks Supreme Court to ... ›
On hot days in New York City, residents swelter when they're outside and in their homes. The heat is not just uncomfortable. It can be fatal.
- Extreme Heat-Stressed Locations Could Increase by 80% - EcoWatch ›
- African Americans Are Disproportionately Exposed to Extreme Heat ... ›
- Extreme Heat Is Killing Americans While Government Neglect ... ›
Fracking companies are going bankrupt at a rapid pace, often with taxpayer-funded bonuses for executives, leaving harm for communities, taxpayers, and workers, the New York Time reports.
- Plunging Oil Prices Trigger Economic Downturn in Fracking Boom ... ›
- Fracking Boom Bursts in Face of Low Oil Prices - EcoWatch ›
- As Fracking Companies Face Bankruptcy, U.S. Regulators Enable ... ›
A report scheduled for release later Tuesday by Congress' non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that the Trump administration undervalues the costs of the climate crisis in order to push deregulation and rollbacks of environmental protections, according to The New York Times.
- Under Trump, EPA Workers Seek Bill of Rights to Allow Them to ... ›
- Trump Adds 'Tasteless Insult to Injury' by Pushing Fossil Fuel ... ›
By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
- Trump Admin Rejects CDC Reopening Guidelines - EcoWatch ›
- How Do You Stay Safe Now That States Are Reopening? - EcoWatch ›
- Florida Breaks U.S. Daily Record With Over 15,000 New ... ›
By Eoin Higgins
Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.
<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
- DNC Ignores Progressive Climate Activists - EcoWatch ›
- Who's a Climate Champion and Who's a Climate Disaster? - EcoWatch ›