Poor health is not caused by something you don't have; it's caused by disturbing something that you already have. Health is not something you need to get, it's something you have already if you don't disturb it.
The first wealth is health ...
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Many of my patients with family history of cancer are terrified that they may fall victim to the same diseases their parents succumbed to. It is natural to feel this way. However, not everyone who comes from a family with a history of breast cancer or prostate cancer succumbs to the disease. Why is this so? This is the mystery which many scientists are working to unravel.
A recent study conducted by Dean Ornish, MD and his colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco tested the effects of dramatic lifestyle change on genes in the prostate. The study group consisted of men with a history of prostate cancer.
After 3 months of healthy eating, moderate exercises, psychotherapy and stress management, the investigators showed that biopsies taken before and after the lifestyle modification showed the genes that cause the prostate cancer were less active. Other genes that fight diseases were more active.
In 1995, Dean Ornish and his group showed similar results where they found lifestyle changes affected certain markers of prostate cancer, possibly slowing the progression of prostate cancer. Two of the cancer causing genes, RAN and Shock2 were suppressed in the study. The good news is that these genes are found in most types of tumors including breast and colon cancer.
"The implications may be much more widespread, and not just limited to men for that matter.”
Though the results of the study are exciting, we have to await more studies to confirm the findings. However, what do you have to loose by embracing some the lifestyle changes included in the study? The following are some suggestions of lifestyle changes that may help:
- Find time to exercise. Exercise has other benefits that go beyond prevention of cancer. You do not have to spent money. All you have to do is walk. Keep it simple and build it into your busy schedule. The participants in the above study had regular exercise and ate the right foods.
- Eat the right food. Preferably, eat foods with complex carbohydrates and regard food as medicine.
- Find time to be spiritual. Spirituality builds resilience and cuts down your stress hormones that can damage your tissue at the cellular level and make you prone to diseases.
- Meditate daily. The relaxation response that you gain from meditation prevents the production of stress hormones such as steroids and adrenalin that can damage your cells and make you prone to diseases.
- If you're religious, practice your religion. For example, if you are a Christian and you believe in the tenets of the Bible, your daily devotion can give you hope. Jesus will become your psychotherapist as his words can restructure your thoughts and give you peace of mind. With Jesus in your boat, you should never be afraid of the storms in your life.
"In the last decade or so, science has discovered a tremendous amount about the role emotions play in our lives. Researchers have found that even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and abilities to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life, including family relationships."
John Gottman, PhD
"We wait all these years to find someone who understands us, I thought, someone who accepts us as we are, someone with a wizard's power to melt stone to sunlight, who can bring us happiness in spite of trials, who can face our dragons in the night, who can transform us into the soul we choose to be. Just yesterday I found that magical Someone is the face we see in the mirror: It's us and our homemade masks."
"Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny."
Reference: The New Scientist. June 18, 2008