Cancer and Grilled Food

To Grill or not to grill- is that the question?

Kim McCorquodale RD, CSO

Spring is hopefully upon us and most of us are looking forward to enjoying grilled foods. Unfortunately, traditional grilling practices can increase your cancer risk.

There are 2 types of cancer-causing compounds that increase in some grilled foods. The first is called heterocycline amines (HCAs), and these increase when any type of meat (especially beef) is cooked with high heat (including pan-frying). HCAs can damage our DNA and start the development of cancer.  Most of the evidence connects HCAs to colon and stomach cancer, but they may also be linked to other types of cancer. Below are some changes you can make to reduce the formation of HCAs.

  1. Reduce temperatures: turn the grill’s gas down, or wait for low-burning embers on charcoal. Fry at lower temperatures too- it only takes a few more minutes and produces much less HCAs.
  2. Raise the grilling surface and flip meat every minute to reduce charring (highly carcinogenic).
  3. Marinate: this can reduce HCA formation by up to 96%. Research is looking at which ingredients are the best.
  4. Add spices: Rosemary, turmeric and fingerroot appear to block up to 40% of HCAs formation through their antioxidant activity. Add these spices to your marinade to provide even more protection. One caveat: turmeric (sometimes called curcumin) may interact with some cancer treatments, so check with your doctor or dietitian regarding this.
  5. Use a meat thermometer: cook meat until recommended temperatures, but not more. The higher the cooked temperature, the more HCAs formed.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are the other cancer-causing compound that increases with grilling. These form in smoke and then get deposited on the outside of meat. Selecting leaner cuts of meat will help reduce PAHs because they drip less causing fewer flare-ups and smoke.

Other ideas to reduce your risk include:

  1. Grill more marinated fish and chicken, or make red meat kabobs to limit serving size.
  2. Grill more vegetables and fruits. These don’t form HCAs and also supply tons of cancer-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals from veggies help your body convert HCAs to an inactive form that can be easily eliminated.

So the question is not whether you should grill, but how and what. Follow the above suggestions, and you will be on your way to a healthier grilling season.

Cancer Relaxation Therapy

Relaxation can help relieve stress of having cancer

Relaxation therapies may help alleviate certain symptoms of cancer, relieve side effects of treatment, and improve your sense of well-being.
Many relaxation methods, such as massage therapy, meditation and guided imagery may be helpful in managing stress and anxiety. In addition, research studies show that relaxation techniques can lower blood pressure, reduce pain, and ease some side effects of chemotherapy.
Having cancer is stressful, so it may not be possible to eliminate all sources of stress. But you should consider the sources of stress that you can reduce. For example, ask for help with household chores, social responsibilities or work demands. Seek out effective strategies for coping with stress or simplify your life by saying “no” to the extra demands as much as possible.
Common relaxation techniques include:
• Yoga
• Tai chi
• Listening to music
• Exercise
• Hypnosis
• Guided imagery
• Massage therapy
Relaxation techniques involve refocusing your attention from the stress to something calming. Patients at North Star Lodge can access many relaxation programs including;
• “Stress Relief in Motion” classes each Thursday at noon with Michael Moritz of StillPoint Resources. Drop ins welcome.
• “Hypnotherapy” Learn at Lunch program with certified hypnotherapist, Pam Caldwell on Wednesday, May 18 (Noon – 1 pm) RSVP at 574-3441.
The lending library features many books specifically dealing with ways patients can manage stress as well. All of these programs at North Star are offered free of charge.

North Star Lodge Cancer Care Center nominated forthe Monsanto Company “America Grows” award

Special thanks to Opal Long who nominated North Star Lodge Cancer Care Center for the Monsanto Company “America Grows” award and a $2,500 contribution.  Monsanto is the provider of growing seed for farmers throughout the world including the Yakima Valley.  They issued an invitation to local farmers to nominate organizations who make a difference in the lives of rural citizens.  Opal had been treated for cancer at North Star Lodge so she nominated the program for this auspicious award, one of only two made in the State of Washington.  The funds will be used for patient care services throughout the coming year.  Posed in the photo is John & Opal Long (Sunnyside Farm Family), Dr. Vickie Jones of North Star Lodge and Kevin Zander, Territory Sales Manager for the Monsanto Company.

The Princess and the caregiver

The Princess and the caregiver

warrenernst | April 26, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:

After a month or so with the oral chemo the progress stopped  and it was time for the clinic chemo to do it’s thing. The oral does work for some as we had a friend that made progress for about 3 years before stopping but not so lucky. So in we went with cell phone and lap top for just a new office atmosphere. The Princess got comfortable, plugged in her lap top got her phone close  at hand and was just going to have  the care givers work around her day. Ha Ha…..first meds and the eyes got heavy so she switched to games then shortly there after I slid the  computer off her lap and she got real quiet and the phone didn’t ring, thank God. It was a very good experience and the nurses were to die for.

Yakima Yard Sales

It’s a crazy huge Yard Sale
@ North Star Lodge
808 North 39th Ave
(front parking lot)
Saturday, May 14th

The staff at North Star lodge will be holding their 3rd Annual Yard Sale to raise money for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life in June and we’d love your support!

Tell your friends and come early, there will be lots of wonderful items at great deals!

We are also accepting donations through May 13th 10a-3p (M-F). No oversized furniture or large appliances please. For assistance ask to speak with Cindy, Beth, or Joyce.

What About Soy?

Carli Hill RD, CSO, CD


The past few weeks we’ve been writing about plant-based diets, phytochemicals and antioxidants, and the best sources of these nutrients…whole foods. I thought I’d write a little about a great example of why whole foods are often a better choice than supplements.

There aren’t too many people that haven’t heard of soy by now. But do you really know what soy is and what the hype is all about? To start off with, soy is a member of the pea family. Soybeans are actually the seeds of the soy plant. Soy is used in many different foods as an additive. You can also find it as whole soy foods such as soy nuts, soy beans (such as edamame), tofu, miso, tempeh, and soy milk.

Okay, so now we know a little about the basics, but what makes soy so special? Soy contains several different components called phytochemicals that have been shown to have some positive health effects. Soy may help promote heart health by lowering LDL cholesterol levels. It also is thought to help with menopausal symptoms. Additionally, soy has shown promise in helping prevent risk of certain cancers, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer, as well as reducing cancer recurrence. However, more research is needed.

Some of the most studied phytochemicals in soy are the isoflavones. These are thought to act similarly to the hormone estrogen. And here is where the controversy comes in, especially in regard to breast cancer.  It is thought that the isoflavones in soy may interfere with some anti-cancer treatments, but some studies show that soy helps reduce risk of cancer returning even when used with the anti-cancer treatment. Here’s one of the research articles. There is also some risk that the isoflavones in soy might increase the activity of estrogen and promote cancer growth in women with hormone sensitive cancer. Again, there is other research indicating that soy isoflavones will actually help fight breast cancer. MD Anderson has a great article on this subject, as does Caring4Cancer.

Now are you good and confused? Well, the bottom line is that soy is more than just isoflavones. Soy foods have many other components that work together to help with cancer prevention as well as heart health. As with other foods, you don’t get the full benefit of soy from supplements. They often contain only one part of the soy food such as isoflavones. Soy supplements, especially those that are isoflavones such as genistein or daidzein, should not be used by women with breast CA. However, a moderate amount (3 servings per day) of WHOLE soy foods such as tofu, soybeans, miso, soy nuts, soymilk, and tempeh is considered safe and acceptable for women with breast cancer. One recent study, “Soy Food Consumption and Breast Cancer Prognosis,” goes even further to report that there is no significant difference in recurrence when comparing the lowest soy intake to the highest.

Now that we know WHOLE soy foods are safe, let’s take a look at some recipes. These are from Diana Dyer at Do you have any soy recipes to share?

Putting Plant-Based Foods First

Written by Lena Gill, RD, CSO, CD

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I say “plant-based diet”?  I posed this question to my friends and family on Facebook and got the following answers: “Vegetarian”, “What rabbits eat”,  “Wheat Grass”,  “ Gross!”,  “Hungry”…Maybe you have the same initial thoughts?

These responses made me realize that this name may be misleading, so to clarify, a plant-based diet is one that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains BUT it doesn’t mean you have to become a vegetarian; it just means that you should try to choose most of your foods from plant sources. Fish, poultry, meat and low-fat dairy foods are still welcome, yet are no longer the star of the meal.  By making these plant foods a personal priority (while keeping portions and total calorie intake under control), you can reduce your chances of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancers.   Let’s take a more in depth look at each of these groups:

Fruits and Vegetables: Fresh, frozen, dried or canned—fruits and veggies provide color as well as the major sources of vitamins, minerals as well as Vitamin A and C, folate and potassium—all of which help fight potential diseases.  The nutritional content of fruits and veggies differs, so vary your choices and aim for 5-9 servings per day.

Whole Grains:  This food group packs a huge nutritious punch by providing fiber, phytonutrients and some key vitamins and minerals.  Choose whole grains that are fortified or enriched and you will be adding B vitamins, folic acid and iron.  If you don’t like the taste of whole grains, gradually work up to at least making half of your total intake whole grains (i.e. add a handful of whole grain pasta to your regular pasta when cooking, try multi grain tortillas, brown rice added to white rice, etc.).  Keep your serving size in check (it’s easy to go overboard!) but aim for 6-11 servings per day.

Legumes/Beans:  Making legumes or beans the main event at mealtime will provide you with protein, fiber as well as a cholesterol-free option from animal proteins.  This food group also has a “split personality”—you can choose to include them as a vegetable or as part of the meat and beans food group!  Start out by trying to make at least one dinner per week a vegetarian option and make beans/legumes the star!  Check out some recipes to help get you started.

Keep in mind you don’t have to become a vegetarian to eat a plant-based diet.  Just choose more from the fruits, veggies, whole grains and bean food groups and you may soon find your clothing fitting a little better, a renewed sense of energy as well as reducing your risk for diet- related diseases!  What are your tips or special recipes that have helped you change to a plant-based diet?