Lifestyle Research Update - Christmas Special

Is Christmas good or bad for Cancer?

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Welcome to our Christmas special   (contact us | about us)

christmas treeChristmas and New Year are a very special and happy time of year for many. Rich with traditions and rituals which add to their significance and enjoyment but are these harmful to our health, carcinogenic or interfere with cancer treatments or outcomes? Without trying to dampen your Christmas joy, this edition of "lifestyle News" looks at the good and bad sides and offers some friendly lifestyle advice  


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  Bad - We eat too many sweets
sweetsSugar and processed carbohydrates get absorbed quickly causing an increased glycemic load causes insulin resistance and a rise in insulin-like growth factors which are known increase the cancer risk. For example, a study published in the BJC found a direct correlation between higher levels of insulin and a 46% risk of colo-rectal cancer recurrence. This effect is worse in sedentary or overweight people.
Advice: Avoid adding sugar to tea or coffee, resist the temptation for sweets & cakes, instead try a satsuma or a piece of dark chocolate, consider soda water rather than lemonade..more
 Good - Brussel sprouts
brussel sproutsResearch published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry has shown that compounds in cruciferous called isothiocyanates target and block mutant p53 genes associated with cancer growth. They found that extracts were capable of removing the defective p53 gene while leaving healthy versions of the gene alone. Broccli, part of the cruciferous vegetable family extra is one of the ingredients being tested in the NCRN approved pomi-t study - read more. 
Advice: eat up your greens!
Bad - Too much meat
turkeyA study presented at the American Institute for Cancer found that eating red meat and poultry boosted the risk of breast cancer. This effect was mainly in white women - but not black women. This data was based on data from 976 black women and 873 white women. Other studies have linked regular intake of processed meats such as sausages, pork pies,  sausgae rolls with a higher cancer risk.
Advice: Go for lean cuts and quality not quantity of meat..Diet & cancer 
 Good - We eat carrots with our Christmas lunch
carrotsA new study suggests that women with higher levels of carotenoids have a lower risk of breast cancer - especially cancers that are harder to treat and have a poorer prognosis.  Investigators analysed data from thousands of women who took part in eight previous studies on carotenoid levels and breast cancer. The research was published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute. - carotenoids
Bad - weight gain

fat ladySeveral studies have linked weight gain with an increased rtisk of cancer and cancer relapse. For example a recent presentation at the American Association of Cancer Research showed that amoung 12,000 women with breast cancer, those who had a very high BMI or high waist-to-hip ratio had a 43% higher risk of cancer death.  Likewise a study from New York showed overweight men with prostate cancer are more likely to relapse.
Advice:  Try to avoid the high fat snacks go for plenty of long walks between meals..more 

Good - dancing at christmas parties

dancingA meta analysis of 34 RCT published in the BMJ  this year showed that physical activity reduced many of the side effects of cancer treatments such as anxiety and fatigue. Other cohort trials link activily with a lower risk of relapse and a study from Cambridge linked  increased exercise levels with better erectile function after radiotherapy...more about exercise. Advice: More dancing - less chatting or munching

Bad - we get given talc products from distant relatives

talcA recently published study involved more than 2,000 women with ovarian cancer and a similar number of women without the cancer. They found that regular users of talc had a 30% higher risk of ovarian cancer.
Advice: repackage and give to someone else next year...more on carcinogens

 Good - giving up smoking at new years
quit smokingA report from The Journal of Addiction found that smokers are more likely to quit if they have a planed date such as New Years. They are also more successful in quitting when they use nicotine patches or prescription medications, rather than going it alone. Numerous studies show that smokers who don't quit after cancer have almost half the chance of sucess and suffer more from side effects - quit
Advice: encourage freinds and relative to quit by buying them smoking cessation gadets for Christmas or aim to stop at new year yourself!
  Bad - we eat too much
fat manIrrespective of body weight, fat and sugar intake, individuals in the highest quintile of carbohydrate (energey)  consumption had an 80% increased risk for cancer recurrence or death from any cause compared with patients in the lowest quintile (49 vs 34%) according to a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Advice avoid over eating - if you do, go for a long walk
  Good -  Greater social intergration and support
kissingA number of studies have linked better social support and personal relationships with better survival after cancer. For example a study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment of more than 2,200 breast cancer patients found that women who were socially isolated were 34% more likely to die from breast cancer or other causes than women who were socially integrated. The researchers also discovered that levels of support within personal relationships were important risk factors for breast cancer death.
Advice Christmas is a great time to forget old arguements embrace family values (tips for a happy family)
 Bad - our Vitamin D levels drop

boneAlthough we cannot directly blame Christmas for the lack of sun in the UK, but according to a study presented at the American Society for Clinical Pathology meeting, 28% of women monitored for chronic diseases had deficient levels of vitamin D in the Winter (December) and 33% had insufficient levels, compared with 5% and 38%, respectively, during the summer. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to great cancer risks and worse outcomes after cancer. A UK study published last year suggest this problem could be even worse in the UK - vitamin D guidelines 

   Good - One or two glasses of good red wine
alcoholThere is a good and bad side to alcohol, which obviously in excess in very harmful. For example, a study of 13,525 women with breast cancer followed for 15 years from Cambridge showed a lower relapse rate if they drank lightly but be careful alcohol increases the risk of obesity which, in the same study, increased the relapse risk. This effect was only seen in ER-ve women and also not all previous studies showed the same effect    ..alcohol and cancer
Advice: Drink sensibly - quality not quantity
  Bad - too much alcohol
alcopopsIt's confusioning to have alcohol in both sections but the published evidence suggests there are two opposing risks of alcohol intake. A study of 9037 girls published in The Journal of Cancer strongly suggested that teenage girls who drank alcohol and have a family history of breast cancer increased their own risk of the disease. The investigators found that women who have a family history of breast cancer or breast disease were about twice as likely to develop both benign breast disease and breast cancer than women with no family history of the disease. The risk of benign breast disease also rose along with how much alcohol the young women consumed, according to the study..alcohol and cancer
Advice: Drink sensibly try to encourage group activities which don't involve alcohol
Good - we give gifts
nutritional testsThe internet has enabled use to give more imaginative and useful gifts this Christmas.  An online micro-nutrient measurement service has been developed by cancernet which measures over 50 of the bodies essential micro-nutrients and anti-cancer enzymes (read evidence base).   The results of the detailed blood test are issued with a comprehensive bespoke advice programme which empowers the recipient to a diet and lifestyle which corrects deficiencies and lowers excesses to restore optimal nutritional status a perfect way to start the new year Buy a micro-nutrient test for a loved one this Christmas
 Bad - we receive cheap  cosmetics as gifts 

shampooThe Consumer Watchdog division of ABC news has reported over 120 chemicals in care products such as skin creams and shampoos that  are used every day by women and men.  They include chemicals such as formaldehyde, a known carcinogen; dioxin in some shampoo; lead on your lips; parabens, aluminum ( a metaloestrogen) and even mercury, in skin-lightening creams; toluene, known to cause headaches in nail polish; and diethyl phthalate, linked to allergies, hormone disruption and dermatitis in perfume. Fortunately there are alternatives - read about artificial chemical free completely natural organic natureMedical products Lip remedy | Nail balm | Anti-inflammatory balm 


Good - you can give "Lifestyle and Cancer - the facts" as a thoughtful present 

Lifestyle after CancerThe new edition of Lifestyle and Cancer dispells the myths by providing clear evidence based advice, to help readers cope with side effects, speed up recovey and reduce the risk of relapse. You can order  online for yourself or send as a Christmas gift to a friend or family member (8.95).


A new scheme is also now available to advocacy groups - The publishers are able to supply at cost price to groups who can sell on to members at a discount Contact us about joinng this scheme 


Read foreword by Paula Radcliffe Download a free Chapter - Avoiding carcinogens 



Hope you enjoyed this mainly tongue in cheek Christmas edition and from the Cancernet team: