To Your Health
December, 2013 (Vol. 07, Issue 12)
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Steering Clear of Cancer

By Julie T. Chen, MD

Most people I know, are very afraid of the "C" word. Cancer. Even patients who are not afraid of heart disease or other diseases, somehow, cancer is the word they are incredibly scared of.

I don't blame them. It sure does scare me a lot. So, what can we do to help prevent cancer and if you have already had cancer, how can you prevent recurrence?

There are a few fundamental issues that we should tackle. Sleep, stress, exercise, diet and supplements. Of all of these, supplements is least important. I know, I are probably surprised I'm saying that but it's true. The foundation of a healthy body should be your primary focus...not popping a pill, even if it is a supplement. Although, I will point out at the end of this article, some key players to take for cancer prevention or management.

Sleep...where do I start? It is when our body heals and our cellular repair occurs. So, how can you even think about short-changing that? You can't. If you are concerned about cancer development, you have to make time to rest. You have to sleep. If you are not sleeping well, first things first, you have to see a sleep specialist and see if you have sleep apnea or some other disorder of sleep that is keeping you from your rightful time of healing. If you do in fact sleep well but you are just going to bed too late and not getting enough sleep because you are not going to bed early enough, you need to make this a priority. Simply put, sleep is essential to healing and hence to your overall health. You need to pay attention to that.

salad - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Second, stress can cause a lot of inflammation and detrimental health impacts. Finding time to relax and unwind isn't just a suggestion, if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, it's your body's way of telling you that you need time to de-stress. Please listen to your body. If you don't, your body will likely make you listen to it in a way that you won't appreciate. I am a big fan of fixing the leaky faucet before it overflows. Listen to your body and take some time to relax and let your body rest.

Exercise and diet goes hand in hand. Our bodies are made to move. If you can't remember the last time you were active and exercising, it's time to start. A diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, fruits and lean low saturated fats help with inflammation. If you can find time to move daily and you make an effort to eat predominately plant-based diet that is not processed and focus on lean proteins found in fish, organic white meat poultry or nuts and legumes, you will be giving your body they nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

Beware of the pesticides and chemicals in foods these days, especially pay attention to which foods are genetically modified or not. Eating real Mother Nature foods will help you stay healthy...eating foods that you think are natural but are in fact genetically modified or filled with pesticides will cause harm to your body in the form of inflammation and cellular dysfunction.

Finally, in regards to supplements, my favorite includes turmeric with black pepper, indole-3-carbinol, and vitamin D3. These supplements help with various cancer risks but you should always check with your healthcare practitioner before using them since when it comes to supplements, it should be special-tailored to your health needs. So, have your doctor evaluate you for the symptoms you are concerned about and ask them about these supplements for appropriate dosing. That would be the safest route for you in regards to choosing the right supplements at the right dosing.

Dr. Julie T. Chen is board-certified in internal medicine and fellowship-trained and board-certified in integrative medicine. She has her own medical practice in San Jose, Calif. She is the medical director of corporation wellness at several Silicon Valley-based corporations, is on several medical expert panels of Web sites and nonprofit organizations, is a recurring monthly columnist for several national magazines, and has been featured in radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews. She incorporates various healing modalities into her practice including, but is not limited to, medical acupuncture, Chinese scalp acupuncture, clinical hypnotherapy, strain-counterstrain osteopathic manipulations, and biofeedback. To learn more, visit