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Prevention of Cancer PART – 3


(All the articles published in past are available at

Question:  Last time we discussed that we need to start cancer prevention efforts from CHILDHOOD, not after age 40 as most people do today. And we saw some reasons why it is important to do so, such as Obesity related to childhood habits. Obesity is responsible for 40% of cancers in USA today. We are fast heading in that direction. We also studied about potential role of processed foods in causing hormone imbalance thus leading to obesity, even though they may be low in calorie!!! And lastly we spoke about you (the reader) taking charge of lifestyle changes for children and some tips in this direction.

These were very interesting and provocative points, and very sobering too. We kind of do realize that we are responsible for poor health of our children, both physical and mental. But we did not realize that it can cost so much, leading to increased risk of cancer, heart problems, diabetes and so many other serious diseases. Linked to obesity and otherwise. Please continue.

Ans: Diet: Last time we spoke about contents, means what to eat, what not to eat in brief. More important or equally important is how to eat!!! We do know that contents of diet differ very widely between countries, states, regions, cultures. and yet we know that cancer was much less common before 100 years in practically all the cultures, and is rapidly rising (based on authentic data from registries). We also know from these registries that “Lifestyle” impacts cancer risk greatly. What this means is that what we eat is less important compared to some other factors. Diet between cultures is still very different, and yet cancer risk has risen in practically all cultures.

“How we eat” determines how much we eat (direct relation to how many calories we get), and how our body processes what we eat (do we get nutrition and strength or get obese for example).

Ensure no eating in front of television or with any gadget like mobile. It is very well known that when we eat with full attention given to food, we eat less and digest better. On the other hand, if we are not paying attention, mostly we eat more, and yet we are not satisfied. Means we need even more food! Plus as per our ancient wisdom, if we eat with positive thoughts, we convert food to healthy components that help our body and mind. When we are in front of television thoughts are rarely positive!

Ideal way to eat: 1. After cleaning hands and feet with water, and possibly face too in summer. Apart from hygiene, this will calm the nerves and prepare your mind to focus on meal. 2. A small prayer, even if less than one minute, before meal. Can be silent too. This again calms nerves, and you realize the value of food in front of you. When you thank God and all the people responsible for ensuring food in your plate, the sense of gratitude is a very positive thought. This will ensure that you get good strength even with little food. 3. Eat with family, friends, colleagues…Don’t eat alone. A 75 year long study from Harvard University has shown that Loneliness is the worst risk factor against long and healthy life in general. Much bigger than cholesterol, low activity etc. They have proven this repeatedly in 3 generations that they have been studying. 4. Eat at same time preferably. At least don’t make very big changes. Body has a clock that determines balance of hormones, digestive juices etc. It works much more efficiently when you maintain the clock – Daily Routine. Also, keep dinner light, and eat before sunset preferably. This is an age old wisdom in all cultures. 5. Keep food portions small. This has been studied well with fast foods that you tend to eat whatever is in your dish. If there is less food, you may still be satisfied. 6. Eat slowly. Chew very well. This is again very proven technique for reducing calorie intake. Additionally, there is much better digestion also, since many enzymes in saliva have very important role in digestion. When you eat slow, there is a lot more saliva mixed with food. Brain is satisfied earlier, means asking for less food. To eat slowly, more attention to eating is required. This cannot happen in front of a gadget or television. 7. Some recommend less variety in food per meal. “Mukhvas” like variyali, paan etc after meal. A little walk after meal – not lying down right away (in left lateral position if at all). Also, sitting cross legged, not with legs hanging – apparently provides better blood supply to stomach and intestines for better digestion.

Now if you think about it, most of the above points were followed by our grandparents, in most cultures. Not a new Science. Remember how someone in family will sit with you as well, even if you are the last one to have meal, late from studies or work…! Eating alone was practically not allowed, out of love…I never knew that was also very very very healthy!!!

Some of these things may not directly seem linked to cancer, but believe me most are. For one, healthy lifestyle required for cancer prevention is practically same as for prevention of other common diseases. Many points we are just learning. For example, one recent study has shown that lying down in left lateral position reduces acid exposure to esophagus. Now we know for many years that chronic reflux (acid exposure to esophagus) is a risk factor for cancer of esophagus. Means above noted many points related to proper digestion are linked to cancer prevention. We will also see later that Hormone Balance and Healthy Gut has strong relation!!! And we do know that many cancers are driven by hormone imbalance – such as Breast cancer (most common cancer today), ovary, uterus, prostate…

March 15, 2022 Dr Chirag A. Shah; M.D. Oncology/Hematology (USA), 9998084001. Diplomate American Board of Oncology and Hematology. Ahmedabad.

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