Preventing Lung Cancer

My dear second cousin died of lung cancer last night at midnight. This is a horrible disease and it strikes so quickly. The cancer metasticized and reached his lymph nodes and then I think he and we all knew. It's a sad day for our family. It happened so fast and it pains me that I couldn't have been with him when he passed.

Of course, as a nutritionist, my thoughts turn to what could have been done to prevent this awful day from happening. As you look through the scientific literature, of course, you end up figuring that quitting smoking is key to guarding against risk. I know my cousin had quit, but perhaps it was too late.

The only other way to help prevent this disease is simply to be sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables daily. The high amounts of phytonutrients probably either help to upregulate antioxidant enzymes protecting cells or act simply act as antioxidants to cells. The result is less potential damage to cell DNA.

Maybe, however, skip out on the veggies high in beta-carotene because of association with higher risk of lung cancer (the beta-carotene apparently can bind to carcinogens in smoke and potentially increase damage to DNA). That's according to the famous CARET study from Finland where beta-carotene supplements appeared to increase risk of lung cancer in smokers and those with exposure to asbestos.

I'm going to add at my cousin might have been a lot better off without all the stress. He had a high amount of stress in his lifestyle. The stress itself, science is beginning to show, leads to more oxidative stress on cells. Perhaps the constant fight-or-flight response does add stress biochemically, but it should be immediately obvious that stress in our lives leads us to eat poorly, eat less fruits and vegetables, and have have poor habits like smoking.

We all could benefit from less stress in our lives. And it leads me to pause and think, I need some good stress-management techniques. Ones that I choose such as nature walking weekly may not be enough. Sooner rather than later I need to begin a steady exercise program, eating regularly, maybe delegating some projects.

Just some thoughts.

Sent from my iPad

Published by David Despain, MS, CFS

David is a science and health writer living on Long Island, New York. He's written for a variety of publications including Scientific American, Outside Online, the American Society for Nutrition's (ASN) Nutrition Notes Daily, and Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Food Technology magazine and Live! blog. He's also covered new findings reported at scientific meetings including Experimental Biology, AAAS, AOCS, CASW, Sigma Xi, IFT, and others on his personal blog "Evolving Health." David is also an active member of organizations including the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society for Nutrition, the Institute of Food Technologists, and the National Audubon Society. David has a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and a bachelor's degree in English from University of Illinois at Springfield. He also earned his Certified Food Scientist credential from the Institute of Food Technologists.

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