Inflammation and Cancer

Most of us know when we have inflammation after some type of injury. This is an important part of the healing process and is called “acute” inflammation.  What we will discuss is labeled “chronic.” This is basically a constant, low-level state of inflammation that can damage cells and their DNA, resulting in higher risk for cancer and other diseases.

What can lead to chronic inflammation? Known causes are inactivity, being overweight, dietary choices, and some types of infections.  You can definitely make choices that affect the first three areas, so let’s outline those.

Physical activity

Besides burning extra calories so body fat won’t increase, more and more research suggests exercise, in and of itself, reduces inflammation. Remember, you are never too old to become more active. Start with increasing what you are doing now and increase to 30 minutes daily. This will help for cancer prevention. Check out America on the Move’s web site for ideas on getting more active.

Body Fat

Scientists used to believe body fat was just stored energy. Research now reveals fat tissue produces hormones that can trigger chronic inflammation. A healthy weight is a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9 and is an easy calculation. Waist circumference is also important. Greater than 31.5” for women and 37” for men increases cancer risk. Select reasonable portions of healthy foods and beverages to slowly lose excess weight. Talk with your local dietitian if you need help selecting a healthy weight loss plan or try some of these ideas to cut calories.

Dietary Choices

Choosing a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes will provide you with lots of cancer fighting substances. Fill your plate with 2/3 or more of these plant-based foods. Limiting red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) to less than 18 ounces/week and avoiding processed meats also helps reduce chronic inflammation. Try substituting fish or vegetarian protein sources for red meat on most days and limit portion size to 1/3 or less of your meal.

So, the bottom line is- work on what you can control. Become more active, reduce excess body fat, and make healthier food selections.


It’s never too late to lower your cancer risk.

Massages at North Star Lodge

“It is fantastic that you arrange activities like this for the ladies and gentleman of North Star. When I read about opportunities like this, I am all the more grateful for everything North Star has done for this community. Aside from helping me destroy the cancer I had personally two years ago, you make a huge impact on the community and the people that reside within it. North Star doesn’t just give hope; you give love and share the gift of humanity. Keep up the good work!”

Cancer Treatment and Fatigue

Fighting Fatigue

Carli Hill, RD, CSO

Fatigue “is one of the most common side effects of cancer and its treatment”. (WebMD) Causes and/or contributing factors to cancer-related fatigue include: cancer itself, stress, nutritional depletion, lack of exercise, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, muscle wasting, diarrhea, dehydration, infection, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and anemia. Here are some tips to help fight fatigue:

  • Be physically active for 30 minutes per day since exercise shows the strongest evidence of benefit for fatigue (check with your doctor before starting an exercise program)
  • Get plenty of protein (dairy foods, meat, and eggs are especially rich in protein)
  • Eat a good breakfast
  • Mix protein with carbohydrates at lunch, choosing at least 1 serving of protein rich foods and 3 servings of fruits, vegetables, and grains
  • Drink plenty of water (a minimum of 8 cups per day or 64 oz). Increase this amount if you are vomiting or have diarrhea
  • Limit caffeinated beverages to 3 servings or less and avoid drinking tea and coffee with meals as they can reduce iron absorption
  • Don’t eat sugar by itself and limit intake to less than 10% of total calories
  • Eat several small meals/snacks throughout the day (eating about every 4 hours)
  • Consume appropriate amounts of iron-rich foods and take an iron supplement if advised by your doctor
  • Make sure you are eating at least 1200 calories each day
  • If you are unable to consistently eat a balance diet, consider a quality multivitamin (but first check with your doctor)
  • Keep a journal to help identify when you are most tired, energized, or in the best and worst moods (pay attention to what precedes these highs and lows)
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night

For more tips for fighting fatigue, visit WebMD.

Yakima Fiesta de Salud

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Fourth Annual Fiesta de Salud offers health resources, screenings, and bilingual family funn

Yakima, WA

Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital and Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, in partnership with Fiesta Foods of Yakima, and Yakima’s healthcare community, are inviting families to attend the fourth annual Fiesta de Salud- Free Community Health Fair, at Fiesta Foods (1008 East Nob Hill Blvd., Yakima) Saturday, July 30, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Last year nearly 3,500 people participated in the open-air, fiesta-style event and even larger crowds are expected this year. The purpose of Fiesta de Salud is to provide health care resources, medical screenings and other health care information to the public in a fun, pressure-free environment.

“Sometimes it’s intimidating trying to navigate the local health care system if you’re not a native to this country,” say Bertha Lopez, Memorial Hospital’s Health Outreach Manager. “Sometimes there are cultural or language barriers. This event is just one opportunity for us to try and break through those barriers to connect people to the information and resources needed to keep their families healthy.”

At the event, healthcare professionals will provide diabetes, blood pressure and cardio vascular screenings, immunizations for children and adults, and a limited number of dental screenings for children. Attendees can participate in a blood drive. Information will be presented regarding a variety of health and safety education topics, such as mental health awareness, cancer prevention, breast health, nutrition, and fire safety. The event will also provide information on social service programs and other healthcare resources available in our community.

However, a fiesta isn’t a fiesta without some fun. The Fiesta de Salud will also include traditional activities, such as games and crafts for children, 500 free bike helmets courtesy of Seattle Children’s Hospital, music, ZUMBA dancing, giveaways, entertainment and of course, food.

North Star Lodge: A Healing Environment

North Star Lodge and nurses, Kim Caudill & Charlotte Montgomery were recently interviewed in the Oncology Nurses publication regarding the healthcare environment at North Star Lodge. Read more below…

Cancer Center Design

Enhancing the Patient Care Environment

[By Jennifer K. Mitchell, MSN, ANP-BC, GNP-BC, Contributing Editor]

Nurs­ing involves car­ing for the whole per­son (body, mind, and spirit), not just the phys­i­cal body. In the same way, an opti­mal patient care envi­ron­ment is holis­tic as well—encompassing the phys­i­cal struc­ture and ameni­ties of the facil­ity, the qual­ity and breadth of ser­vices pro­vided, and the cul­ture of the peo­ple pro­vid­ing care.

You Are What You Eat

“You are what you eat”

by Kim McCorquodale RD,CSO,CD

We have all heard this many times. But we also know “we are what are parents gave us,” meaning the genes we inherited. Well, now scientists are investigating how these 2 factors interact. The official term is “nutrigenomics.” This is the study of how our genes and what we eat interact to impact our health. In other words, specific nutrients in foods can change how our genes work. This in turn increases, or decreases, our risk for certain diseases.

This blog has already discussed the benefits of a plant-based diet, which is a diet high in fruits, veggies, and whole grains. These foods are full of antioxidants, phytochemicals and of course, vitamins and minerals. These are some of those compounds that can impact how your genes work. Let’s look at an example.

Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a phytochemical that can reduce cancer cell growth. Some people might have a certain gene that helps sulforaphane work better, so they would benefit most from eating lots of broccoli. Thus, your cancer risk goes down if you have this gene and eat lots of broccoli. Others might lack that gene, so they would benefit more by increasing intake of other healthy foods. Is broccoli not worth eating for them? Absolutely not! Scientists are just scraping the surface of this topic and will certainly discover more reasons to eat broccoli (sorry George W!).

To recap-

What your parents gave you (your genetic make-up) impacts how nutrients affect your risk for disease.

What you eat changes how your genes work, also impacting your risk for disease.

Remember- there’s no “magic bullet” food. I doubt scientists will ever know all the compounds in foods and how they interact. For now, work towards increasing those fruits, veggies, and whole grains, and you will certainly be healthier for doing so.