February 2, 2010 [Volume 4, Issue 4]
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In this issue of To Your Health:
Simple Ways to Reduce Your Cancer Risk
Don't Let Arthritis Slow You Down
Three Excuses for Not Exercising

Simple Ways to Reduce Your Cancer Risk

As of late November 2009, the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program estimated that nearly one in two men and women born in 2009 will be diagnosed with cancer at some time during their lifetime. With those depressing odds in mind, there's no time like the present for you and your family to pursue natural ways to help ward off cancer. Here are a few to consider

Watch What You Weigh. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), approximately 100,500 cancers that strike Americans annually are the result of excess body fat, underscoring the central role that overweight and obesity play in the development of cancer (and in the ability to survive the disease).

Think Natural, Not Chemical. An October 2009 report by the American Cancer Society's Cancer and the Environment Subcommittee advises the public to minimize exposure to known carcinogens (cancer-causing substances), calling for new strategies to more effectively and efficiently screen chemicals.

High Cholesterol Is Not Your Friend. A recent large-scale study, results of which were published in November 2009, suggests that a person's risk of cancer may be significantly lower when cholesterol levels are kept low.

Try Sugar and Spice. Irish researchers have determined that curcumin, an extract found in the curry spice turmeric, promotes death of cancer cells. Another study suggests that certain compounds in pomegranate, a rich source of antioxidants, inhibit a liver enzyme and thus may confer beneficial effects against prostate cancer development.

Live the Good Life. Earl Ford, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues studied data from 23,153 German men and women, ages 35 to 65 years, who participated in the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam study. The researchers found that four lifestyle factors -- never smoking, body mass index (BMI) of 30 or less, exercising 3.5 hours a week, and eating a healthy diet - slashed the risk of cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, by a staggering 80 percent.

This might not seem all that important now, but think how you'll feel if cancer strikes you or a member of your family. Why risk having that happen? Now is the time to improve your health and help ensure a long, healthy life free of cancer and other diseases. Talk to your doctor for more information.

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Don't Let Arthritis Slow You Down

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition that causes joint pain and loss of mobility. Approximately 3 percent of the population is affected, with women outnumbering men by approximately three to one. Several important clinical trials suggest supplementing with antioxidant vitamins and minerals, specifically vitamin E, vitamin C and selenium, can help manage RA.

Vitamin E: One study tested vitamin E supplementation against the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac sodium in hospitalized RA patients. Patients were administered 400 mg of natural vitamin E, three times daily, or the standard anti-inflammatory dosage of diclofenac sodium. After three weeks of treatment, both groups showed the same significant degree of improvement with respect to joint stiffness, improved grip strength, and pain reduction.

Vitamin C: Animal studies suggest that vitamin C reduces inflammation and swelling, and contributes to greater pain tolerance in animals with arthritis. These findings are encouraging for RA patients, particularly if continuing research proves that this benefit applies to humans as well.

Selenium: Patients with rheumatoid arthritis have been shown to have lower blood levels of selenium. In an important 1997 study, patients given 200 micrograms of selenium daily for three months reported fewer tender and swollen joints, and less morning stiffness. They also required lower doses of anti-inflammatory medication than patients in the control group (who weren't taking daily selenium).

As you can see, several important clinical trials suggest supplementing with antioxidant vitamins and minerals, specifically vitamin E, vitamin C and selenium, can help manage RA. In many cases, the need for anti-inflammatory drugs (which are commonly prescribed to arthritis patients) can be significantly reduced and sometimes eliminated when antioxidant supplementation is co-administered. This is important because long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs is associated with many adverse and life-threatening side effects. As such, any safe and effective treatment that reduces the need to take these medications is worth considering. If you have RA or know someone who does, talk to your doctor about the benefit of nutritional supplementation to help manage your/their condition.

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Three Excuses for Not Exercising

Ah, exercise – that thing we're all supposed to be doing for at least 30 minutes a day at moderate intensity on most days of the week. And for good reason; consistent exercise is associated with reduced risks of - well, just about every health condition you can imagine. Not to mention the proven psychological and wellness benefits linked to exercise, including stress relief. So, here are three of the more common excuses for not exercising; make sure you're not using any of these and are instead finding three (or more) reasons TO exercise:

No Time. The number-one excuse people use for not exercising is lack of time. While our hectic lives certainly complicate matters, the reality is that if you want to make it work, you'll make it work. For the most part, people who make it to the gym regularly aren't doing it because they've got "free time"; they've made a commitment to their health and are doing something about it.

No Experience. OK, you've never really worked out before, so you don't know where to start – what exercises should I do, how much weight should I lift, what if I don't know how to use the treadmill? All legitimate concerns, but remember: You've got to start somewhere. Do some research, get a few lessons from a trainer, or recruit a knowledgeable friend, and in no time you'll be the expert.

No Results. You're working out, feeling good, seeing the pounds drop and the fat melt away; and then it all seems to come to a screeching halt. The scale doesn't move any more and somehow, the mirror reflects the same image day after day, no matter how much you exercise. Instead of quitting, mix up your workout routine and shock your body back into the fat-burning, muscle-toning groove.

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