Thursday, December 16, 2010

Charging forward anyway in the face of conflicting studies

Fighting the cancer recurrence battle can feel a little like playing craps. One day we're told to drink a glass of wine for our hearts, the next we're told DON'T, it might give you breast cancer. Now that you've got breast cancer from all that wine you've been drinking, you find out you need to eat ground flax seed to cut down on your chance of recurrence. Ok - not so fast person with HER2+ tumours...flax seed might increase your chances of a return. Green tea may or may not be good for fighting many cancers but studies seem to say now breast cancer is probably not one of them. Not always eating right? Don't rely on a supplement to fill in the gaps in your healthy eating plan because multi-vitamins have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

Next up - folic acid. Recent studies suggest that folic acid intake may be linked to cancer. That was interesting for me  because my nutritionist at the cancer clinic recommended that anyone at risk for breast cancer who chooses to continue drinking alcohol take a folic acid supplement to reduce the risk of recurrence.

So if you take the time to read these studies, what do you do? Well, I am choosing moderation. I am trying to eat a balanced diet, rich in anti-oxidants (omega 3s, beta carotene) and fibre, and low in fat. I drink green tea, but I am not a fanatic. I limit my intake of flax seed to 2 tablespoons a day. I take the maximum recommended dosage of vitamin D, fish oil and calcium. I take aspirin every day to cut down on inflammation. In the new year, I am adding green tea supplements, just in case, and I am also adding a new one, turmeric. I have cut back on my multi-vitamins, and now only take them a few days a week.

And folic acid? Well, in the absence of conclusive studies saying the benefits of folic acid outweigh the risks, I'm going to have to err on the side of caution. That means cutting back further on alcohol and relying less on folic acid to offset it's dangers.

And now my wee boy wants to paint! So you will pardon this cancer girl who needs to get back to her real life. :-) That's the best supplement of all. I dare a researcher to prove me wrong!


    1. I am confused as well. I have given up on food studies. I only pay attention to the ones on new clinical trials and medications... So I eat healthy, have given up on soy (because I hate tofu anyway), and enjoy my wine with dinner sometimes... I just enjoy being me. I spend too much time confused...

    2. I think you have hit on something, Caroline; enjoying being yourself. What is the point of fighting for our lives just to hand them over to others.

      I'm trying to find a new path, where I look after myself better. I want to enjoy being a better me! :-)

      Be well.