Friday, March 26, 2010

Broccoli and Belief

It's been interesting reading the headlines on breast cancer coming out of Barcelona all week. The suggestion that diet and exercise may have an impact on breast cancer are nothing new, but this set of reports seems especially blunt.

Some researchers believe that up to a third of breast cancer could be prevented by lifestyle changes. While as a journalist I can't argue with what is being reported, as a survivor it's another story. It is very easy to blame ourselves for getting cancer, and in fact doing so can give us an illusion of control. Was it that half gallon of ice cream I ate in 2005? The fried cheese in 2008?

Reality is a lot more complicated. I have personally been on a slow path to eating more vegetables and less meat. A slow path. Fortunately I have always liked to exercise, though I have struggled with my weight. Now that I think about it, today all my meals have been meat-free. I have embraced spinach, a vegetable I used to avoid, and seek broccoli like it's the holy grail.

Of course I have no way to know if all this will make a difference, when it comes to cancer. Are my adjustments enough? My husband and I have been apartment hunting, and one place was located near a funky little juice bar that promised "healing concoctions." A little part of me hoped that they somehow would have the magic drink that will keep me safe.

The other night during the health care debate a pundit on cable news claimed that "since he takes care of himself he won't be a strain on the health care system." I got pretty furious. While some of us survivors are cookie addicts, there are plenty of slender, fit, healthy women who ended up in this cancer boat.

One thing I try to keep in mind is that improving my diet is not just about fighting cancer. While that cauliflower curry soup I had for lunch yesterday may be no magic ticket to a tumor-free future, eating well and feeling better are rewarding in other ways.

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  1. I couldn't agree with you more!!

    I read an article today that suggested 1/3 of BC could be prevented by diet and exercise alone. I understand there is some truth to that but the article went further to explain how more estrogen is present when more fat is present to store itself in...etc. etc. But *ahem*, what about those who are triple negative? There goes THAT "blanket" theory.

    It's just not that simple.

    If I were more creative in the kitchen (and not married to a meat & potatoes man) eating vegetarian would be no big deal for me.

  2. Cauliflower Curry Soup - ymmmmmm. Will you share the recipe?
    And you're right, Stephanie Rose. Dealing with triple negative myself, I know it is not as simple as some opposed to health care reform would have people believe.
    I have been eating more whole grains and veggies, and less fat this past year since treatment.
    I have my veggie garden seedlings started in all my South facing windows. I started them way too early this year - just couldn't help myself. But they look happy. They make me happy. And I can hardly wait for planting to begin. I always grow enough to feed the town (only 1200 people in mine!). I juice and drink much of it, and what I can't eat or drink, I donate to our local food pantry.

  3. There are so many factors in our environment as well as food that contribute to cancer. I am a three times survivor so understand your feelings when people give simple answers to this complex question. My solution is to try and live sustainably and I talk about this on my blog.