Category Archives: Cancer Care

Cancer Prevention Diets

AICR: The New American Plate

Written by Lena Gill, RD, CSO, CD

“Is there a special diet I should be following right now?”

As a registered dietitian and certified specialist in oncology nutrition, I get asked this question often.  Honestly, I love being asked this because it gives me the opportunity to tell people that taking an interest in what they eat is the first step to reducing their chances of cancer or recurring cancers.  It also helps reduce their risk of developing other chronic health problems such as heart disease and type II diabetes.  I know that we can’t change genetics, but we can control what we eat.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), “Scientists estimate that one-third of cancer cases could be prevented if everyone ate a healthy diet.”  I especially like how famous biochemist, Paul Stitt, puts it: “The cure for cancer will not be found under the microscope, it’s on the dinner plate.”

The AICR has developed a simple way for us to create meals and manage portions to assure that even the busiest person who doesn’t have time to cook, or the picky eater who hates vegetables, can still eat healthy—and enjoy it, too.

The New American Plate (developed by the AICR) shows us how we can divide our plate into thirds where two thirds of the plate includes plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans while the other one third includes fish, poultry, meat and dairy.  By dividing our plate this way, it helps us control the portion that we eat (without always having to weigh or measure).  With all of the fiber rich fruits, veggies and whole grains, we are able to fill up quickly on the foods that contain vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (natural substances found only in plants—more to come on this) that can help stop cancer growth before it even starts.  Another bonus?  These items have fewer calories (helping us reach our healthy weight) while satisfying our hunger without deprivation of any specific food group (Yes, there is room for chocolate!).

Check out AICR’s website to see how easy it can be for you to transition from the “Old American Plate” to the “New American Plate.”  While you’re there, sign up to receive some great recipes, sent directly to your inbox—don’t be afraid to try something new—You just might like it and you will gain health benefits, too!  And when you sit down to your next meal, ask yourself this question: “How close is the plate in front of me to The New American Plate?”

Phytochemicals, antioxidants, and research- oh my!

Kim McCorquodale RD, CSO

Now, you may think these topics can’t possibly be covered in 3 short paragraphs, and you are probably right, but here goes…

Phytochemicals are “plant chemicals.” They give color, odor, and taste to the plants they call home. More interesting for us humans, eating phytochemicals improves how our bodies work and helps protect us from disease. Some of the benefits include reducing inflammation, encouraging our immune system, and blocking the growth of cancerous cells.  Colorful fruits and vegetables are especially packed with phytochemicals, so aim for at least 5 servings each day. To some, that sounds too hard, and they may wonder, “why not just take a pill?” Taking supplements can lead to overdosing, and research suggests phytochemicals are less effective in pill form. To get the most benefit from these powerful substances- eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables every day.

 

Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, or phytochemicals found in many whole plant-based foods . And, most importantly, when eaten in adequate amounts they help protect our cells from damage that can lead to cancer and other diseases. We are beginning to understand how they work, the best way to consume them, and that mega-doses of any one substance is not a ‘magic bullet.’ We are also realizing there are thousands of substances in plants that interact in interesting ways, and that some antioxidants work better when eaten with others. So, the bottom line is-

Your best source for antioxidants is… wait for it…

the produce section of your local market

I mentioned research, so it’s time to add some tips on understanding what those scientists are saying. The phrase “is associated with” does not always mean cause and effect. In other words, “may” or “suggests” do not necessarily mean “will.” They are only saying a trend has been noticed. Here’s an obvious example of a trend not showing cause and effect:

“As ice cream sales increase, so does the rate of drowning. Therefore, ice cream causes drowning.”

The take home message- It’s up to you to become research–savvy. Make sure you read the whole story when the latest and greatest findings are announced. Remember- one study does not a recommendation make. And keep eating those fruits and vegetables!

Visit the American Institute for Cancer Research and order some of their free pamphlets to read more reliable information on these topics.

Is there a link between cancer and stress?

Is there a link between cancer and stress? How does it cause tumors? According to experts the link between stress and cancer is not as definite as tobacco use. But they believe that different types of tumor are significant physiological side effects of stress. It also has these other effects on the body — higher level of hormones and an unhealthy lifestyle.

http://www.your-cancer-prevention-guide.com/cancer-and-stress.html

Award for North Star Lodge!

North Star Lodge Cancer Care Center has been awarded one of the top ten enrolling clinical trial locations while Dr. Thomas Boyd was recognized as one of the top ten accruing physicians for clinical trials enrollment in 2010 by the US Oncology Research Network.

North Star Lodge competes with over 200 different locations and 1274 physicians nationwide in this annual award. Many of the participating research centers that made the top ten locations list are located in large metropolitan areas such as Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada.

“This award speaks to the active nature of our research here at North Star Lodge. It is not often patients will find the opportunity to access the latest in research in a community of this size, states Dr. Boyd. “Our patients need not travel far for state-of-the-art treatment.”

North Star actively participates in 30-40 clinical trials at any given time. Studies can range from one year extending beyond ten years depending upon the focus of the trial. North Star Lodge participates in the US Oncology Research Network, National Cancer Institute and Radiation Therapy Oncology Group trials. The US Oncology Research program represents the largest percentage of North Star’s research programs.

Cancer medication shortages

North Star Lodge and other health care workers are scrambling to provide treatment in the face of ongoing shortages of key medications.

Experts blamed a variety of factors that came together over the last year, including raw materials shortages, increased demand for some drugs and a dwindling number of suppliers. A variety of basic, life-saving drugs, antibiotics, anesthetics and chemotherapy medications have been in short supply, pharmacists said. http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_17607854?nclick_check=1

Cancer Care Charities

~ Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present. ~  Albert Camus

North Star Lodge is a non-profit Cancer Care Center and relies upon charitable contributions to provide state-of-the-art care throughout the region.  Contributions support the patient emergency fund, nursing education fund, North Star initiatives fund and the equipment fund.

 

Recently, the patient emergency fund helped local family, grandparents who are fostering three young grandchildren.  While the grandfather received treatment at North Star Lodge, their home (a motor home) burned to the ground with pets inside.  The staff at North Star jumped into action, donating clothes, food, gift certificates and toys while the social worker utilized the patient emergency fund to locate temporary housing, transportation and grocery certificates.

 

“It never ceases to amaze me that giving at North Star Lodge never stops at the end of the day.   Of course, cancer knows no limits and neither should we if we can help it.”   North Star Director Mary Marsh

What are oncology doctors?

Oncology doctors are physicians who have graduated from an accredited medical school and then undergone specialized training in oncology. Oncology is the study and treatment of cancer and tumors in various parts of the body. It is the oncologist’s job to diagnose and treat cancer in his patients, and to work alongside other medical professionals or oncologists in choosing the best treatments.
When an oncology doctor receives specialized training, he may choose from a variety of sub-fields, meaning he will receive training to diagnose and treat specific kinds of cancer. Examples of various oncology related sub-fields include pediatric oncology, which is the treatment of cancer in children; and surgical oncology, which focuses on the removal of cancerous tumors. Other oncology doctors may choose to specialize in gynecological cancers.

To become a certified oncologist in the US, one must take all necessary training and then petition the medical specialty board for licensure. At that time, an examination must be completed and passed in order to obtain a license in oncology. A separate license must be obtained to practice a sub-specialty, and this requires additional courses and examinations to be taken.

Many general practitioners take oncology training as well. This can help them more easily recognize symptoms of cancer in their patients. This may allow them to spot problems earlier than many other family practice doctors, thereby ensuring their patients get treatment as soon as possible.

It is possible for an oncology doctor to specialize in more than one sector of oncology and cancer treatment. For instance, North Star Lodge doctors have specialties ranging from hematology to therapeutic radiology. They hold monthly “Tumor Boards” a meeting with other local and sometimes national specialists and primary care physicians to address all possible forms of treatment. This practice broadens a physician’s base of knowledge and support so decisions are not made independently. Patients can feel comfort in knowing that their case has been scrutinized by a group of specialists who collaborate on their treatment plan.

Dr Jones

Look for more “Doc Talk” when North Star’s own Dr. Vicky Jones will share her insights into the world of oncology.

Cancer Caregiving Blog

Caregiving

“The Princess and the Caregiver: warrenernst.wordpress.com

Join veteran caregiver, Warren Ernst as he recalls his experience serving as father, husband and caregiver to his wife who courageously battled stage four lung cancer.  It is Warren’s belief that men deal with the role of caregiver in very different ways and it is his hope that a blog written from the male perspective may help others through their own journey.  He welcomes comments and questions.