"Turn on" the genes that protect you against breast cancer
A few months back, I told you that we know what causes 95 percent of cancer. And it's got very little to do with your family history. In fact, just because your mom got breast cancer, it doesn't mean that you'll get it too.
A whole new generation of experts believes most cancers -- the vast majority of them -- occur because of "epigenetic influences." In simpler terms, it means that factors such as your diet and your environment affect your genes. Some factors, like exercising every day, "turn on" your protective genes.
On the other hand, leading a sedentary lifestyle "turns off" these protective genes. And remember my guy, Dr. Ajay Goel? He discovered that curcumin "turns on" the genes that protect you against colon cancer. He promised to find more "epigenetic influences" on cancer.
Well, Elaine Hardman, PhD, beat him to the punch this month.
Dr. Hardman, from Marshall University, found that eating one type of snack food appears to "turn on" the genes that protect you against breast cancer. Plus, in animal studies...mice fed this snack food got less than ½ the cases of breast cancer. And if they did get cancer, the tumors were smaller and less aggressive.
Breast cancer targets even "healthy" women
Breast cancer is a complex disease. Sure, there are things you can do to improve your odds, such as maintaining a healthy weight and exercising. But even that may not be enough. Breast cancer strikes women of all shapes and sizes. Not just the overweight ones.
Just pick up a gossip magazine any week of the year and you'll read about another lean and glamorous showbiz woman who got breast cancer. Andrea Mitchell is the latest victim. She's fit, she's healthy, and -- yes -- she's got breast cancer.
But -- as Dr. Hardman found -- one snack food may make a huge difference in your chances of getting breast cancer! Now, here's the all important question...are you eating enough of it? You'll be surprised to learn how little you may need!
Snack food "turns on" protective genes
Dr. Hardman and her team of researchers bred mice genetically programmed to develop breast cancer. They fed half the mice a typical mouse diet. The other mice received a diet enriched with walnuts. After weaning, the mice ate the human equivalent of about two ounces (a handful) of walnuts each day.
Hardman found that mice fed walnuts got less than ½ the cases of breast cancer compared to the mice fed typical diets. Plus, the tumors they did get were significantly smaller!
And remember all of these mice were genetically programmed to get breast cancer. The only difference was the walnuts!
Results apply to humans, researchers say
Yes, this study followed mice. But the researchers said the walnut diet changed the activity of multiple genes relevant to both mice and humans!
According to Dr. Hardman, "Food is important medicine in our diet. What we put into our bodies makes a big difference -- it determines how the body functions, our reaction to illness and health. The results of this study indicate that increased consumption of walnuts could be part of a healthy diet and reduce risk for cancer in future generations."
Well said, Dr. Hardman!
Eat your walnuts each day, ladies. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytosterols. Sprinkle them on salads, add them to muffins, or just eat them by the handful. If the mouse research holds up (and I think it will), eating walnuts may wake up those genes that protect you from breast cancer!
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About the author
Nationally acclaimed as America’s “Nutrition Physician,” Dr. Spreen has been helping people stay healthy and disease-free as a private doctor, published author, and noted researcher.
In addition to his role as a Senior Member of the prestigious Health Sciences Institute Advisory Panel in Baltimore, MD, Dr. Spreen also coaches diving at the international and Olympic levels. NorthStar Nutritionals is proud to have Dr. Spreen as our Chief Research Advisor.
Dr. Spreen also writes the Guide to Good Health.