An Apple A Day: Really Does Keep the Cancer Doctor Away!

April 12, 2007

An Apple A Day:  Really Does Keep the Cancer Doctor Away! 

Competency #2:  The DASH Diet, # 20, Cuisines of the Long-Lived               Reference: American Association of Cancer Research (2007, April 16); Natural News 2007 Oct 24;  American Journal of Epidemiology 2007 166(8):924-931. 

 The meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research this week has just published three large studies about vegetables and cancer risk.  By large, I mean 490,000 and 183,518 followed for many years.  The findings in all three are complementary and supportive of the core idea of eating more fruits and veggies.  (Grandma was right!) 

 Dr. Freedman at the National Cancer Institute presented data that show that those who eat 6 servings of F&Vs a day had a 29% reduction in head and neck cancers.  Each serving, at any level of consumption, of extra fruits and vegetables added a 6% extra level of reduction. Another study from UCLA showed that soy and broccoli (sounds like stir-fry) eaten together make a compound that makes cancer cells less able to migrate and spread.  

Finally, a third study from Hawaii showed that those eating the most F&Vs reduced their risk of pancreatic cancer by 29% for non-smokers but a whopping 59% for smokers. A serving is a one-half cup.  A large apple is two servings.  An apple a day reduces your risk of cancer by 12%.  All cancers are not the same, but we keep seeing more and more confirmatory studies that one cancer after another succumbs to the evidence of our behavior change. “But I don’t eat fruit.  I don’t like it!”  How to change behavior?  Here’s what works.  

The Evidence: Think of your favorite fruit or vegetable.  Make a very simple plan.  Make one tiny little change.  Not a big change, just a tiny change.  “I’m going to bring a little baggie of little carrots to work every day to eat as a snack.” Or “I’m buying fresh raspberries to put on my cereal”. I’m going to do it every day this week.  Every day you do it, give yourself a reward for doing it.  (I get to do a Sudoku puzzle, watch my favorite TV show – but make some reward.  Reward yourself every day). After a week, you can look back and find yourself saying, “I just ate an extra serving of “______” every day and made myself much healthier.  

That wasn’t hard!  I must not dislike fruit at all” The social science evidence shows that if you make a tiny change for a week, write it down, do it every day with a REWARD built in, you will CHANGE YOUR BRAIN to believing you can do it. (This has been studied and proven.)  Then, make another tiny change next week and do it again.  Start adding up the changes and be amazed. 

 WWW:  What will work for me.  I’m into the concept of tiny positive changes.  I’m trying to teach my inner elephant to dance.  So far, we are only up to raising one leg.  But we’re having fun.  I try and count my F&Vs every day.  Yesterday, it was eight servings.  Now I have reason to go for 9.  Training my elephant with positive rewards.  My elephant likes vegetables.  How about yours?

This column is written by Dr. John E. Whitcomb, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield WI. (262-784-5300)