Rhode Island Monthly Breast Health 2015 : Page 3

SPECIAL ADVER TISING SECTION CHROMOSOMES Chromosomes » continued from page 107 Telomeres naturally get shorter each time a cell divides until they are too short and the cell can no longer divide. They are made up of an enzyme called telomerase that help the telomeres from eroding too much. So, what do telomeres have to do with cancer, and is there anything we can do to keep our telomeres long and strong to deter cancer and other serious illnesses? Dr. Doreen Wiggins, breast surgeon and director of the Cancer Survivorship Medicine program at the Women’s Med-icine Collaborative, says there is, and she presented information on the connection between telomeres and a healthy lifestyle at the Cancer Summit, hosted by the Partnership to Reduce Cancer in Rhode Island in June. Studies are showing that we can com-bat shortening telomeres. As cells mutate into cancer, they divide more rapidly and the telomeres become too short, causing the cells to die. But, these cells are smart and don’t go down without a fi ght. They make more telomerase to avoid their inevitable demise, hence allowing the cells to survive and transform into cancer. Researchers are working on a way to measure telomerase in order to detect cancer, since many cancers have shortened telomeres. If scientists can learn how to turn off the telomerase, the cancer cells will age and die, stopping the cancer in its tracks. However, blocking the manufacture of telomerase is a double-edged sword because it can weaken cells related to fertility, wound healing, and the produc-tion of blood cells and immune system cells. However, there is more promising news regarding telomeres. A pilot study conducted by the University of California San Francisco showed that people who changed their lifestyle and way of eating were able to lengthen their telomeres. This small study followed thirty-fi ve men for fi ve years, and had ten men switch to a plant-based diet high in produce, whole grains and lean proteins. The participants also walked thirty minutes a day, regularly performed gentle yoga-based stretching and meditation to reduce stress and attended weekly support groups. Compared to the group who did not make any lifestyle and diet changes, the ten men increased their telomere lengths by approximately 10 percent more than the group that made no changes. The secret to living healthier is to live healthy. There is no magic pill, no fad diet or prepackaged food that will make anyone fi t and full of energy — at least not long-term. A healthy lifestyle is a conscious choice, just like driving up to a fast food restaurant and super-sizing your order is a conscious choice. Living healthy is nourishing body and mind. People often equate this to the emptying of their wallets, but that isn’t the case. Eating healthy means eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which should take up half of your plate at mealtime. Purchasing seasonal produce is less expensive and it does not have to be organic, as there is no evidence to show that organic foods are more effective in reducing cancer. The other two quarters of the plate should consist of whole grains and lean proteins like chicken, fi sh, beans or lentils. It also means cooking with healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil and canola oil, and drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid prepackaged food and dinner in a box. These items are fi lled will chemicals that require a medical degree to pronounce and are high in sodium. And, avoid foods labeled as low-fat or nonfat, because food manufacturers replace the fat with chemicals. There is some evidence, though, that whole soy foods, such as edama-me, tofu and soy milk, may help lower the risk of some cancers, while products with high levels of soy isofl avone found in supple-ments, protein powders and bars should be avoided. A good rule of thumb is to heed the advice of original fi tness guru Jack Lalanne: “If man makes it, don’t eat it.” Besides, there is something unsettling about the term ‘food manufacturer.’ Once the body is fueled with natural foods, it will have more en-ergy to move. Exercising is key to keeping our muscles and our telomeres long and strong. Exercising doesn’t require exorbitant fees at a state-of-the-art fi tness center or a second mortgage to build a fancy home gym. It requires a little bit of stretching before going out for a brisk thirty-minute walk, which costs nothing. Jack Lalanne got housewives across the country moving using nothing more than a kitchen chair to balance while doing squats and leg lifts. Setting small, realistic goals for exercising will promote success, confi dence and encourage sticking to an active regiment. Exercise also releases endorphins, a hormone that makes people happy. The fi nal component to living healthier is stress reduction. There Chromosomes continued »

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