There is a lot of concern in the research community that inflammation plays a significant role in cancer, including prostate cancer. The exact role is not clear, however many researchers and clinicians believe that we need to work to minimize inflammation in order to control cancer.
Why is it potentially dangerous? Chronic inflammation (CI) works at the cellular level. One possible cause for CI is diet issues. Poor diet may trigger inflammation, which can impair immunity and contribute to artery damage and insulin resistance. CI may increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer as well as arthritis.
To find out if you have unhealthy levels of chronic inflammation you should ask your doctor to give you a blood test named
C Reactive Protein (hs-CRP). This test looks for markers in the blood (CRP) that signifies the level of cronic inflamation you may have.
Many doctors are not fully aware of the danger of CI and ignore the possible negative effects, especially on cancer. Your health insurance often covers the cost.
If you find that you do have abnormal levels of CI, whether or not you have cancer you should consult with a nutritionist and ask your doctor if you might be a candidate for any treatment.
Leo Galland, MD of the Foundation for Integrated Medicine suggest that you consider the following diet restrictions to help reduce your level of CI.
WHAT NOT TO EAT
Avoid these common inflammation-producing foods…
• Trans fats. Trans fats are created by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil (a process called hydrogenation). Consuming trans fats may damage cells that line blood vessels, causing inflammation.
To do: Check labels and avoid foods with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (or aliases, such as shortening or margarine). Most commercial baked goods, such as cookies and crackers, and many fried foods have trans fats.
• Omega-6 fatty acids. Needed for good health, omega-6s are found naturally in meats, poultry, shellfish, milk, eggs, vegetable oils and some seeds. They are harmful only when eaten out of proportion to omega-3s, another essential fatty acid. A good ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s is three to one. The typical American diet has a ratio of up to 20 to one — which allows omega-6s to crowd out omega-3s, changing the body’s metabolic processes and creating inflammatory chemicals.
To do: Boost your intake of foods rich in omega-3s (see below).
• Processed sugar. Table sugar, candy, soft drinks and other sweets contribute to insulin resistance and extra pounds, both of which increase inflammation.
To do: Satisfy your sweet tooth with a wide variety of fruits. Note: If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor before increasing fruit intake.
Work these into your diet…
• Flavonoids. These natural antioxidants (nutrients that neutralize harmful molecules called free radicals) inhibit inflammatory enzymes. They are prevalent in foods whose natural pigments give them a deep yellow to deep purple color — primarily fruits and vegetables.
To do: Aim for nine daily servings of intensely colored fruits and veggies a day, such as plums, eggplant (with skin) and red onions. Add unsweetened concentrated fruit juices (blueberry, pomegranate) to salad dressings and marinades.
• Carotenoids. These antioxidants are found primarily in produce that is yellow, orange or red. Particularly beneficial are carrots and tomatoes. Some green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, also are rich in carotenoids.
To do: Use a bit of olive oil or walnut oil to make salad dressing or sauté vegetables. The oil improves absorption of carotenoids by the intestine.
• Omega-3s. These fatty acids contain a potent inflammation-fighting component called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Omega-3s are found in flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, walnuts, navy and kidney beans and leafy green vegetables. Fish is an excellent source, too.
To do: Increase your intake of the omega-3-rich foods above. Also, eat at least 12 ounces of fish a week, choosing types rich in omega-3s and relatively low in mercury — anchovies, conch, herring (fresh or pickled, not creamed), mackerel, salmon, sardines and sturgeon.
• Fiber. The more dietary fiber a person consumes, the lower her CRP levels tend to be. Best sources include beans, whole grains and vegetables.
To do: Go beyond your typical high-fiber favorites and try something new — whole-wheat pasta, bulgur (a grain), Swiss chard, yams.
• Herbs and spices. Garlic, onions, chives, ginger, turmeric, basil, parsley and cinnamon enhance the flavor of foods and also have anti-inflammatory properties.
To do: Use herbs and spices daily. Healthful combination: Turmeric (a good source of flavonoids) plus black pepper, which increases turmeric’s absorption.
Joel T Nowak MA, MSW
Thought you’d be interested in this short omega-3 video — omega-3s being anti-inflammatory, of course:
I am the author of Cancer Inflammation and the AT1 and AT2 receptors, published in the BMC Journal Of Inflammation.
Please drop me an email and I’ll send you a poster that I think you will find useful.
Best regards, Gary.