Cancer Prevention with Whole Grains

Whole Grains Cancer Reduction

Whole Grains Cancer Reduction

One of the best ways to reduce your cancer risk is to maintain a healthy diet with a diverse intake of foods. Generally, consuming foods that haven’t been processed is best, so fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains. Research has revealed that whole grains are a particularly important form of food for the reduction of risk in certain types of cancer. This article will take a look at which types of cancer whole grains can help prevent and how to choose whole grain foods!

Whole grains are cereal grains that contain cereal germ, endosperm, and bran. They are close to their natural form as opposed to refined grains that have been processed to make them more easily used in processed foods or to improve the aesthetics of the food. Refined grains only contain the endosperm because the milling process removes the cereal germ and bran. The bran is the outer protective layer of the grain kernels and the endosperm is the starchy carbohydrate inside the bran husk. The germ is a very healthy part of the grain because it contains vitamin B, minerals, protein and healthy fats. Unfortunately processing the grain will remove the germ and you lose all of those benefits.

You can refer to the image above to see the different parts of a wheat grain. The next time you are shopping you can also compared brown rice and white rice to see the difference between unprocessed and processed rice. The brown rice is the natural state of rice, before the germ and bran have been removed in the processing. After the rice is processed it is white and faster to cook. That makes it more convenient but you also lose many of the natural nutrients in the rice.

Health Benefits of Grains

Many of the plant compounds in whole grains are very nutritious and contain compounds that can help protect your cells from damage that can lead to cancer. Whole grains are also high in fiber which helps maintain good overall health as well as reducing the risk of cancer of stomach, colon and rectum (amongst others). In addition to the fiber there are various antioxidants, phenols, lignans and saponins (organic compounds). Let;s take a closer look at these components.

Antioxidants are compounds that help minimize cell oxidization from free radicals. Anti-oxidants can help prevent aging, help you remain healthy and help prevent cancer.

Phenols are fragrant organic compounds in oils that also have interesting antibacterial properties and help your immune system. Lignans are a plant based form of estrogen that can help protect damaged cells. Saponins act as natural anti-biotic within the body as well as playing a role in fighting cholesterol and protecting against cancer.

Cancer Research Findings

Many studies have been performed into the possible link between whole grains and cancer prevention. A meta-analysis of 19 studies into the link between whole grains and reduction of risk of colo-rectal cancer and gastric cancer found that in 16 of the studies, the cancer risk reduction from whole grains was “high” compared to a diet with only refined grains.

A separate meta-study saw 45 from 50 studies mention that whole grains have an associated decrease in cancer risk. Whole grain consumption mostly reduces risk in gastro-intestinal cancers with analysis showing a 20% reduced risk of colon cancer, 28% reduced risk of pancreatic cancer and a 40% lower risk of gastric cancer.

Other research papers have linked the consumption of whole grains to a reduction of risk for 18 types of cancer. That includes reduced risk of stomach, colon, gallbladder, liver, rectum and pancreatic cancers.

Eating More Whole Grains

It’s very easy to start eating more whole grains and get the great cancer prevention and health benefits. Stop buying white bread and choose a healthier brown or grain bread. Remove white rice from your diet and start using brown. You can also switch to whole grain cereals instead of processed cereals like your standard corn flakes. Some whole grains are fun to eat, like pop corn! Switch to wholemeal crackers, brown flour and look into the ingredients of ready to eat meals – are their better alternatives.

Once you make the switch you will not only find that you are reducing cancer risk, but you will also have increased energy and fell better. The extra nutrition in whole grains will have an impact on your overall health. Try it out!

Stomach Cancer Signs & Symptoms

Stomach Cancer

Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer is responsible for nearly a million deaths each year and is one of the most deadly forms of cancer. Unfortunately because the symptoms are often confused with other illnesses, the diagnosis of stomach cancer is sometimes delayed, leading to patients presenting with stomach cancer that has progressed to an advanced stage. Prognosis is poor with a 5 year survival rate of between 5% and 15%.

Very often, in it’s early stages, stomach cancer produces no noticeable symptoms or it may show symptoms that are commonly seen in other less serious illnesses. When the symptoms of stomach cancer become easily noticed, often the disease is at an advanced stage and has metastasized to other parts of the body leading to a poor prognosis.

Stomach Cancer Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of stomach cancer at the three stages:

In the early stages of stomach cancer, if any symptoms are present they could be as simple as a loss of appetite (especially for hard to digest foods like meat), indigestion or heartburn, and abdominal discomfort. Those symptoms are frequently found in the general population and usually don’t signify the presence of stomach cancer, leading to most people ignoring those common symptoms.

In stage 2 (medium stage) the symptoms become slightly more worrisome, but are still not significant enough for most people to warrant a trip to the doctor. At this stage some weakness or a general feeling of fatigue may be experienced. In addition, some bloating of the stomach may be observed after meals.

In stage 3 (late stage stomach cancer) the symptoms become much more serious and easily noticeable. Symptoms include:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Nausea and/or Vomiting
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Bleeding which can be seen in the stool. Also this bleeding can lead to anemia
  • An illness caused dysphagia that is triggered by a gastric tumor

The problem with stomach cancer is that even the advanced stages of the disease show symptoms that may also be a gastric ulcer or stomach virus.

Stomach Cancer Causes

Most cases of stomach cancer are caused by a bacterium found in the stomach, called Helicobacter pylori.

Surprisingly, diet is not a consideration in most cases of stomach cancer, but some foods like pickled vegetables have been linked with a higher incidence. Cured meats are high in nitrates and nitrites that can be converted to bacteria that has been shown to promote stomach cancer in animals.

Cancer organizations suggest that a varied diet high in fruits and vegetables can help avoid stomach cancer, and in general a healthy diet is a great idea to avoid a number of cancers and heart disease.

Smoking is once again a promoter of cancer with a 40% increased risk for casual smokers and an 80%+ increased risk of stomach cancer for heavy smokers. Smokers tend to get stomach cancer in the upper regions of the stomach, especially the esophagus. Significant alcohol consumption is tentatively linked with stomach cancer, so once again moderation with alcohol is a good thing.

About 10% of stomach cancers show some kind of link to genetic factors and genetic testing is now available for families with a history of stomach cancer.

The Helicobacter pylori bacterium is responsible for between 65% and 80% of stomach cancers, so apart from maintaining a healthy diet and not smoking or drinking excessively, not a lot can be done to avoid this form of cancer.

Males are much more likely than females to contract stomach cancer with some studies suggesting that estrogen plays a role in protecting women from stomach cancer. You are three times more likely to develop stomach cancer if you are male.

Stomach Cancer Detection

In it’s early stages, it is unlikely that a general practitioner would advise tests for stomach cancer because the symptoms are so commonplace. If you have a family history of this type of cancer, it is advised that you get tested early and be vigilent as to the symptoms of this form of cancer.

After the doctor has performed an initial examination to eliminate other causes of the symptoms, lab studies will need to be ordered to confirm stomach cancer.

The other examinations a patient may be asked to do to confirm stomach cancer include:

  • A CT scan of the abdomen to determine the location of tumors.
  • A Gastroscopic exam which involves the insertion of a fiber optic camera into the stomach
  • An upper gastro intestinal series, which involves x-rays of the stomach and surrounding areas

Any abnormal tissue found during a gastroscopic exam may also need to be biopsied to determine if it is cancerous.

Blood tests can also help form a diagnosis and the blood is checked for anemia.

Stomach Cancer Treatment

Unfortunately stomach cancer is difficult to treat, particularly in the late stages. Treatment generally consists of surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. New forms of treatment are being trialled which may lead to better outcomes, but at the moment prognosis is usually not very good with this form of cancer.

Surgical treatment usually involves removing part of the stomach and possibly the surrounding lymph nodes. If the cancer has spread, the surgery may also involve the removal of part of the pancreas or intestines.

If the cancer has spread, the surgical option is often just a palliative solution and aims to extend life instead of curing the disease.

Chemotherapy is unfortunately not very effective in the treatment of stomach cancer and is usually only useful in palliative care and to reduce the size of any tumors. Sometimes chemotherapy is used prior to surgery to reduce the size of the tumors, then used again after surgery to help restrict any remaining cancer growth.

Radiation therapy is also used in combination with chemotherapy and/or surgery to help relieve pain and reduce the size of any tumors. Radiation therapy is also usually used as a palliative measure.