I think a lot more people would exercise if they had any idea how potent it is at both preventing and treating cancer. Then they might feel a powerful motivation to overcome the inertia or lack of time that most of us use as excuses.
I finally got off my duff a couple of years ago after getting a cancer scare (early stage prostate cancer). Of course, as a health writer I’d seen the studies and I knew exercise was important, but I kept putting it off. As a small businessman, I have a tiny amount of “me time” and I didn’t want to spend it working out.
Then my doctor uttered the “C” word — and I found out it was a matter of life and death. You can bet exercise became part of the cancer protocol I designed for myself. I suddenly found time for it. I started taking a half hour walk every day and I’m still at it two years later.
Now, I don’t know how I ever did without it. It’s wonderful and relaxing. My quality of life is so much better.
As to how much exercise you need, the simplest way to look at it is the more, the better. In other words, you’ll get greater benefits from exercise the more often you do it. Here’s the breakdown on why it helps so much, and where to focus your exercise habits. . .
Breast Cancer Survivor was told:
Doctors didn’t give Wiltrude much hope when they diagnosed her with cancer in the year 2000. Wiltrude, a German psychologist, never thought cancer would happen to her. But it did. And it came as a big shock.
One doctor told her, “You’ll be dead in a year.” Late stage breast cancer is virtually incurable using conventional treatments. Even M.D.s admit it. They talk about “buying you more time.” (Don’t count on it. The evidence shows you’re better off doing nothing than chemo.)
When Wiltrude told her doctor she was going to try alternative treatments, he said, “You are committing suicide with what you’re doing.” But she was determined to find a way to beat her cancer.
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, this European woman came across a book by my good friend Bill Henderson, one of the smartest and wisest people I know when it comes to cancer treatment.
She tried Bill’s top, number one recommendation — a gentle treatment you can do at home for just $5.15 a day. What’s more, the cost goes down to $3.50 after six weeks because you just need a maintenance dose. And it even tastes good.
Not only has Wiltrude passed the five-year cancer survival mark, she’s survived for 12 years. We just interviewed her recently for this publication. The radiologist who tests her every year told her, “You’re the only one with this kind of result.”
You can find out more about Bill’s proven cancer treatment plan if you click here.
When I ask him about some of the treatments that top alternative doctors use, Bill sort of shrugs and says, “They’re fine, but why bother? My treatment works, you can do it yourself, and it costs practically nothing.”
He’s coached thousands of cancer patients with all different types and stages of cancer. Most of the people who follow the detailed, specific plan in this Special Report get over their cancer and live for years.
“Almost any kind of cancer is reversible,” says Bill. “I never give up on anyone.”
Dramatic decline in risk for specific cancers
Exercise affects different types of cancer in different ways. Nowhere is this more obvious than the way it controls overall risk. For example, researchers have concluded the following:
- If you’re physically active, you have a much lower risk of cancer than someone who never exercises. That risk level can be anywhere from 20 to 55% lower.
- Active women have a 20 to 30% lower risk of developing breast cancer and a 38% reduced risk of invasive breast cancer.
- Compared to non-exercisers, those who exercise have a 30 to 40% lower risk of colon cancer and a 44% lower risk of bowel cancer after age 65
- Active men and women also have a 55% lower risk of lung cancer compared to sedentary men and women
- And according to a report in Time magazine, active people also significantly reduced their risk of developing cancers of the esophagus, kidney, stomach, lung, and endometrium, compared with those who didn’t exercise.
Long list of little-known health benefits
Most people know that exercise reduces the risk of heart disease. On a basic level, this is easy to understand: Exercise gets your blood pumping and often reduces fat—all of which contribute to heart disease. The heart is a muscle, and making it do some work helps make it stronger.
But how does exercise help prevent cancer?
It helps in a lot of ways, many of which are subtle. There’s no single mechanism that makes it possible to wipe out cancer through exercise. Rather, it supports a whole host of mechanisms that work together to balance—or halt altogether—the chemical reactions that sometimes lead to cancer.
Consider that exercise promotes healthy mitochondrial function. This is important because damage to your mitochondria is at the very heart of cancer. Mitochondrial dysfunction is deeply implicated as the main cause of this disease.
Exercise improves immune function—a key factor in battling mutated genes. It also boosts your antioxidant defenses, improves your body’s ability to repair DNA, and balances hormone levels.
Exercise even helps keep your immune system’s T cells in tip-top form, which means they’re better able to fight emerging and existing cancer cells. And, exercise prompts the release of adrenaline, which helps circulate another type of immune cell — natural killer (NK) cells – so they are better able to penetrate into any tumors in your lung, skin, or liver.
It’s no secret that exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and decreases your odds of winding up obese. But weight level becomes even more significant when warding off cancer, because fat cells produce excess estrogen, which contributes to hormone-prompted cancer development.
And that’s not all… exercise also helps lower your blood sugar and keeps your insulin resistance low. This syndrome has many names – high blood sugar, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, prediabetes – but whatever you call it, it’s highly correlated with cancer. When you have a low-sugar environment within your body, you’re significantly better able to keep cancer cells from spreading.
Does exercise involve any risks?
Any risks related to cancer and exercise have more to do with improper exercise than the act of exercising itself.
Some patients worry about over-exercising, or that they’ll compromise their immune systems. Yet the truth is, if you have the right guidance and the right plan, you’ll actually cut your chances of getting sick or overtired.
Breast cancer is a great example here, as many post-breast cancer patients often worry about developing lymphedema. Yet research has shown that lymphedema risk decreases the more exercise someone gets.
I don’t think many people are in danger of over-exercising, but let’s address it. First of all, use good sense. You don’t have to exercise to the point of exhaustion. You don’t have to become a triathlete. You don’t have to put in long hours.
If you think you’re pushing yourself too much, then track your progress or have a professional (like a sports trainer or a physical therapist) do it for you. If your strength and progress begin to wane, you might be doing too much.
Three barriers to overcome so you can exercise for health
Research shows that over a third of patients currently diagnosed with cancer haven’t had any exercise in over a month. Most of the time this is because they’re dealing with a few common barriers.
One of the barriers to overcome is fear. Many cancer patients, understandably, worry that they’re too fragile, or that they’ve already lost too much weight, or even that exercise might counteract any medicine they’re already taking.
Another barrier is whether exercise options are even accessible. Patients may or may not have access to a gym, and if they do, they aren’t always sure which exercises are appropriate. I think I’ve already answered this: you don’t need a gym. Just take a walk.
The last barrier worth mentioning, which is also the biggest, is simple motivation. Getting any exercise when you’re tired or sick is a challenge. Here’s how you overcome it: Find some friends or colleagues who enjoy exercise and do it with them, regularly.
As anyone who’s ever faced a cancer diagnosis knows, many people will step forward to ask what they can do to help. If some of those people would make good exercise companions, ask them to help keep you accountable and motivated.
As my own case indicates, a simple half hour walk each day easily provides 80 percent of whatever benefit you’re likely to get. You don’t have to join a gym, hire a trainer or design an elaborate plan.
To be sure, I would benefit more if I extended my daily walk to 45 minutes. And I want to start doing weight-bearing exercise, because it offers benefits of its own beyond what you can get from aerobic exercise. But the point is – do something. Don’t put it off until you have the perfect plan and the time to execute it. That will never happen.
How to boost your odds of getting this benefit
Some people are highly motivated and want to do more. If you want to go beyond the minimal half hour daily walk, then try for at least 150 minutes of more demanding exercise such as running, swimming or cycling every week, or 75 minutes of even more vigorous exercise. But don’t go flat out. There’s no benefit in exercising to the point of exhaustion.
If you want to get really serious, the ideal is to include the four main aspects of any exercise program: Core training, balance training, stability training, and strength training. If all this sounds like Greek to you, join a gym (assuming your finances allow for that) and seek help from a pro.
Any daily workout should include a warmup and a cooldown, at least for five minutes each (if not more).
If all of that sounds like too much, don’t overlook the benefit of little actions:
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator
- Go dancing, or turn on some fast music and dance in your living room
- Wear a pedometer every day and aim to increase your numbers
- Work out on a treadmill or exercise bike when watching TV
- Choose parking spots further out from your work or any shops you need to visit instead of looking for the closest ones
- Get a walking partner and take daily walks around your neighborhood; during bad weather, go walk the mall
- Exercise during your lunch break
Now, let me say this: the little actions like taking the stairs will NOT add up to real exercise. I can tell you that from experience. But they’re better than nothing. Try to ditch the typical mentality of avoiding the stairs or parking as close as you can to wherever you’re going. Walking is a good thing. Park three blocks from your destination and take the shoe leather express.
Here’s a final tip: If you’re still not sold on the benefits of exercise when it comes to cancer prevention and healing, try viewing it as a drug. Half the battle is in our perception of the thing. If you feel like exercise is not fun, and is just a small part of your personal war on cancer, you’re less likely to do it.
But if you view it as a potent drug—as well you should, given the numerous chemical reactions it triggers in your body—then it puts exercise right up there with the top cancer treatments available today. As for side effects, it absolutely has them. They include: A long and healthy life, more overall energy, and a boost in overall mood.
Meanwhile, our last issue talked about a type of cancer practitioner that may be right for you if you don’t want to go all-out for alternatives (or if your family won’t hear of it). If you missed this tip, we’re rerunning it below.
Too Scared to Try Alternative Cancer Treatments? Try This
The National Cancer Institute estimates there will be nearly 1.7 million new cases of cancer diagnosed in the United States in 2016.
Most of those people will be faced with the fight of their lives. Even an easy-to-treat early-stage cancer is a life-changing experience because it’s so frightening and raises the specter that “This could be it.”
If you receive such a diagnosis – and if you’re a Cancer Defeated reader – you know better than to trust a conventional cancer doctor’s motives – or knowledge. (We know many doctors stand to make a huge profit by pushing high-dose chemo drugs on cancer patients, see Issue #50. And of course they know nothing about the vast range of natural treatments.)
At the same time, many people feel it’s too risky to rely on alternative therapies alone. And even if you’re receptive to alternatives, family and friends probably aren’t, and they put you under intense pressure to do what the doctor says.
Thankfully, there’s a way to benefit from the best of both worlds – alternative and conventional. It’s an emerging branch of oncology that takes a holistic, “big picture” perspective on cancer, but is still rooted in mainstream medicine…
A Special Message from Lee Euler, Editor
Could your blood sugar
Before you answer, consider this: Blood sugar is the #1 factor for good health and long life.
Out-of-control blood sugar is linked to every serious degenerative disease on the Top 10 Killers list. It harms every important organ in your body, including your heart, brain, eyes, kidneys – even your sex life!
So today I’m excited to introduce a new natural solution to high blood sugar – and I’m not talking about changing the way you eat or shedding excess pounds. Of course, we all know we should do those things, but meanwhile, here’s a quick, easy way to support healthy blood sugar right now.
Integrative oncology is a budding branch of medicine that combines natural, nontoxic and noninvasive treatments with mainstream chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. At its best, it takes the whole person — body, mind, spirit, emotions and lifestyle — into account.
A good integrative oncologist looks at cancer like a weed — not a bloodthirsty alien — and your body as the soil in which it grows. The aim of treatment is to make the “soil” inhospitable to the weed to stop it from growing and spreading.
While treating the cancer, integrative oncology also aims to support a person’s well-being and reduce the interruption to his or her life both during and after treatment.
Combine complementary and alternative treatments
For example, an integrative oncologist may refer her patient to Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, such as an acupuncturist, as a complementary treatment with surgery or proton therapy.
Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective and safe treatment in managing cancer symptoms such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hot flushes
- Dry mouth1
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that breast cancer patients who received six weeks of acupuncture treatment alongside usual care had significantly reduced fatigue, hospital anxiety and depression, and higher quality of life (including functional, emotional, and social well-being.)2
Acupuncture was shown to improve a patient’s quality of life. Given that happiness is so critical to recovery, that’s a big deal. How many times have you heard someone say, “I’d rather die than go through another round of chemo”?
Other complementary treatments an integrative oncologist might prescribe include techniques that strengthen the mind-body connection, such as:
- Guided imagery
- Stress reduction
- Tai Chi
Integrative oncology and nutrition
As a part of both treatment and cancer prevention, integrative oncologists also look at nutrition as an important part of the overall picture.
As a Cancer Defeated reader, you know that bad diet and lifestyle choices are major factors that increase cancer risk… and good choices are huge factors in beating cancer.
Thankfully, integrative oncologists know this too — and better than most conventional doctors.
Integrative oncologists recommend eating a plant-based diet of primarily organic fruits and vegetables and reducing animal fats, red meat, dairy, refined sugar and processed foods because of their tendency to cause inflammatory reactions in the body.
They often recommend you eat a lot of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage because they have a chemopreventive effect in the body.3
Cancer patients often suffer from cachexia – a wasting away syndrome where the patient is literally starving to death. This leads conventional doctors to tell them to increase their calorie intake any way possible — such as by eating donuts, cream cheese and ice cream (Yikes!)
Integrative nutrition therapists guide the patient in restoring digestive health and preventing malnutrition. They provide personalized dietary recommendations that do not include sugar and processed foods. Sugar is jet fuel for cancer cells, and eating large amounts of it to “keep your weight up” is a terrible idea.
Integrative oncology: Beyond diet and exercise
Healthy eating patterns and gentle exercise are pretty much standard “complementary” treatments, but an integrative oncologist can help you take it to the next level.
Remember, integrative oncology is all about the whole person—and that means treating the mind, spirit, and emotions, too.
Other unconventional aspects of integrative may also include:
- Image enhancement, which can help reduce anxiety and body-image issues in those experiencing physical changes due to treatment
- Spiritual support for faith-based individuals, or anyone seeking spirituality
- Therapeutic laughter, usually practiced in a group session to harness the positive power of humor
- Animal-assisted therapy (aka pet therapy), where trained animals and their handlers visit patients as a way to reduce stress and provide distraction and comfort. Dogs are commonly used, but farm animals and dolphins can be trained therapy animals as well.
- Music and/or art therapy to boost mood and provide an emotional outlet, thereby reducing stress and giving the patient a means to express himself
Places to find integrative oncologists
There are numerous cancer treatment centers with integrative oncologists all across the country. A few examples include:
- The MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston
- Cancer Centers of America (locations in Chicago, Atlanta, Phoenix, Tulsa and Philadelphia)
- Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California-San Francisco
- Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Skokie, Illinois
The Society for Integrative Oncology has a directory of practitioners in the US; you may be able to find one near you. I recommend checking them out carefully and interviewing the doctor before making a commitment.
Integrative oncology has become trendy and no doubt there are plenty of old-fashioned cut-burn-and-poison doctors who will hang out the “integrative” shingle and tell you to eat a salad once in a while.
What would I do?
What would I do? What do I really think of this whole phenomenon? My preference is for a doctor – whether MD or naturopath – who’s wholly committed to alternatives. Sometimes surgery is necessary to reduce the size of the tumor, but after that, for me it’s off to a diet-exercise-supplement guy who offers things like hyperthermia, IV vitamin C, laetrile or mistletoe extract, ozone therapy, and infrared sauna. Such doctors will also employ low-dose chemo when appropriate, so don’t worry about that.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s chemo and radiation that are the adjunct therapies, not the other way around.
But I realize a newly diagnosed cancer patient is frightened and may not feel up to making a full leap into alternatives. For them, it’s a good thing we have growing numbers of integrative oncologists.