A leading cancer specialist, David Agus, oncologist and professor of medicine at the University of Southern California, urges us to wear comfortable footwear.
We need to be “comfortably cushioned” all day long, even at dress-up occasions.
“We would all do well to choose a shoe that is flexible, light-weight and well supported,” he writes.
Why is a doctor who treats cancer patients making such a suggestion?
Read on to find out.
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Two buzzwords today are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. There’s a good reason for that. Both free radical generation and inflammatory processes within the body are connected to almost every chronic condition.
You can mop up free radicals (oxidants) and combat inflammation with good diet, lifestyle and supplement choices. These are vital if you want to reduce the risk of cancer and other degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
When you combat excess oxidation (oxidative stress) from free radicals, you also fight inflammation and vice versa. Both are intimately connected.
The danger of low-grade inflammation
While inflammation is a normal and necessary process, chronic low-grade inflammation is not. It’s a sign that something is wrong. It’s being stimulated somewhere in the body by a disease-causing microbe, an irritant or by damaged cells. To protect itself and remove the stimulus, the immune system triggers an ongoing, damaging, inflammatory response.
Sorry to say, this type of inflammation can be going on in the body without us feeling it or knowing about it, which makes it especially hazardous.
Since DNA repair is known to require large amounts of energy, scientists have suggested that the body will shelve this activity to handle the inflammation. Dealing with a short-term trauma is one thing, but in a chronic situation – constant inflammation — the body could become vulnerable to cancer.
Which brings us back to Dr. Agus.
The cancer doctor’s offbeat recommendation makes a serious point. Wearing uncomfortable or ill-fitting shoes can cause constant irritation. Considering that four out of five adults are believed to have some kind of foot problem, finding comfortable shoes to avoid this concern is not easy.
Although he particularly had women’s stilettos in mind, the recommendation also applies to men’s high platform shoes and anyone wearing uncomfortable shoes of any kind.
Such footwear can cause inflammation in the toes, balls of the feet, or heels. The impact can travel up the leg to cause problems in the ankles, knees, and lower back muscles.
Heels over three inches do more damage by tilting the body forward. Leaning back to compensate can put the pelvis out of alignment and compress the spine. These effects will have implications for the whole body.
Dr. Agus describes cancer as a sleeping giant lying dormant in all of us. Why weaken our defense mechanisms and hinder our own internal cancer-fighting abilities by causing unnecessary problems?
The damage caused by footwear is no laughing matter. Sick leave in the UK caused by conditions created by ill-fitting shoes is believed to cost business £260 million pounds ($340m) annually. In the United States the figure likely exceeds a billion dollars. The truth is, nobody knows the medical costs, but they could be huge.
Inflammation causes cancer
There is no question that inflammation causes cancer.
Irritants such as smoking, acid reflux, or stone formation cause inflammation-induced lung, esophageal and kidney cancer respectively. Inflammation caused by bacteria or viruses can lead to cancers of the stomach, bladder, liver, cervix and lymph. Inflammation within the intestines can lead to colon cancer.
Obesity and repeated blows to the body also cause inflammation. So it’s no surprise that National Football League players, whose average weight is 248 pounds, have a shorter life expectancy. Overweight players are twice as likely to die of degenerative conditions before the age of 50.
Some people diagnosed with cancer are able to see a plausible link between the cancer and an old injury to the same body part that occurred years ago. For instance, one person with a bone tumor in his left femur cast his mind back nearly 40 years. He had suffered a bad accident as a young child that damaged the same leg. This is unlikely to be just a coincidence.
It’s the reason why boys with an undescended testicle during the first years of life have a 40-fold increased risk of testicular cancer as an adult.
So how can we lower our risk of chronic inflammation?
Professor Peter Elwood of Cardiff University, Wales, believes everyone over 50 should consider taking one tiny 75 mg tablet of aspirin each day because of the medicine’s powerful anti-inflammatory and health-protecting properties.
I’m not enthusiastic about this idea. Long-term aspirin use has extremely dangerous side effects. But consider the benefits of taking this anti-inflammatory.
Two studies published in the Lancet in 2011 and 2012 support Dr. Elwood’s view. After five years of daily intake, death from gastrointestinal cancers fell by 54%. After 20 years, prostate cancer deaths decreased by 10%, lung cancers in non-smokers by 30%, colorectal cancer by 40% and esophageal cancer by 60%.
Older people benefited more than younger, with the ideal candidates being in their late 40s.
The reason professor Elwood’s advice is not standard is that aspirin can cause stomach bleeding and ulcers. Each year, aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) cause 107,000 hospitalizations and 16,500 deaths in American arthritis patients alone.
Of course they are taking much larger doses than 75 mg, but why take the risk?
Peter Sever, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Imperial College London, believes the risks of taking a daily aspirin outweigh its benefits, even for people at moderately increased risk of heart disease. He does not, and would not take it himself.
Natural remedies to the rescue
We can safely leave aspirin on the pharmacy shelves because there are many natural remedies that can fight inflammation and oxidation. The top seven supplements are the following, according to medical researcher and epidemiologist Vijaya Nair, M.D.:
Cultured soy. Steeping soybeans in microbial cultures transforms an undesirable and unhealthy product (the kind most Americans eat) into a fabulously digestible and nutritious food that’s popular in Asia. Examples are natto, miso, shoyo and tempeh.
Its two most powerful anti-cancer constituents are genistein and daidzein. However cultured soy contains numerous other cancer-fighting constituents that work synergistically.
Curcumin. Derived from the spice, turmeric, it’s a powerful natural anti-inflammatory and interferes with multiple cell-signaling pathways that cancers use to survive, grow and spread. It’s been reported effective against many forms of cancer.
Resveratrol. Best known for its effects on the heart, lab research shows this powerful antioxidant can prevent and kill many different types of tumor.
Ginger. This spice contains many antioxidants and fights pathogens. It also has strong anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to induce cancer cells to commit suicide.
Lutein. This carotenoid is best known for its eye benefits but also aids in the repair and prevention of DNA damage. Lutein also inhibits angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels to feed cancer) and encourages tumors to self-destruct.
Ashwaghanda. Popular in traditional Indian medicine, this herb inhibits tumor growth and angiogenesis. In the lab it’s shown powerful effects against breast, lung, colon, stomach and skin cancer.
Green tea. Benefits of this tea come from its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial properties. According to Vijaya Nair, “Study after study reveals green tea is a modern panacea that may protect against debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease and cancer.”
My own list of natural anti-inflammatories would also include proteolytic enzymes, fish oil, boswellia and silybin (available in an excellent supplement from our sister company, Green Valley Natural Solutions), and black seed or black cumin oil.
Researchers from University College London reported that people who spend more than four hours a day sitting in front of a TV or computer had twice the blood levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, compared to those that spend less than two hours.
Keeping your body physically active creates lots of anti-inflammatory action. So make sure you get away from the screen now and again and move your body.
Better still, go for a good walk each day.
But if you do, please wear comfortable shoes!