Monday, May 17, 2021

Can you beat the odds of contracting disease?

Cancer prevention can be bettered by narrowing screenings, doing a Mediterranean diet, tracking genes

Smarter prevention is helping more Americans beat the odds of getting cancer.

That's the gist of a story by Marygrace Taylor in a Parade magazine some time ago — a story that's subdivided into categories that detail smarter screening, knowing your genes, eating Mediterranean, favorably using social media and eliminating from your lifestyle such an impediment to good health as tobacco.

Under the headline "The People vs. Cancer," the article notes that the overall cancer death rate is continuing to drop.

Referring to lung cancer, the piece contends there's growing evidence that "across-the-board testing might not be beneficial." Instead, it suggests, screening for those most at risk might be best.

Parade then quotes Dr. Peter Mazzone, Cleveland Clinic pulmonologist, to the effect that "the goal is to find ways — other than age and smoking history, to identify high-risk patients."

Mazzone had co-authored lung cancer screening guidelines with the American College of Chest Physicians for low-dose chest CT scans.

By specifically utilizing tests such as breath or blood tests that look for certain biomarkers, experts can minimize the harm done to patients (such as unnecessary biopsies), Taylor writes.

Genetic testing, on the other hand, can be enhanced by those who track their family's health history.

The story cites Dr. Charis Eng, director of the Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare and chair of the Cleveland Clinic's Genomic Medicine Institute, who maintains that tracing a family tree should include determining who had what:

"The most important things are what's the diagnosis, age when diagnosed, family history and familial clustering of a disease."

It's also important to know, she told Parade, how a given disease presented itself. Such as "if a family member has been diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, we think there might be BRCA1 or BRCA2 [mutated gene] in the family."

Eating well, Taylor also indicates, can be a big preventive.

That may mean loading up "on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nut and beans, olive oil and lean protein like fish." The writer, alluding to a Current Nutrition Reports review, notes that "a Mediterranean-style eating plan has been shown to protect against several types of cancer, including colon, prostate, stomach, esophageal, liver and endometrial cancers."

That diet in postmenopausal women, she adds, also was shown in a Dutch study to "slash the risk for certain breast cancers by up to 40 percent."

The story also quotes Jennifer McDaniel, a registered dietitian and co-author of Prevention Mediterranean Table, as saying that the cancer-fighting effect might also be due to what's not on the diet — foods like processed grains, white bread and rice, red meat and full-fat dairy products.

Why? McDaniel says that eating that way may support a healthy body weight and lower inflammation levels, which in turn help prevent some cancers.

Want to learn about other possible ways to avoid disease? Check out "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

No comments:

Post a Comment