Friday, September 28, 2007

Some cancer care recipes

The internet exerts a siren call to people like me, so I'm back, despite my last bleak entry vowing not to return until my paradigm shifted. I guess a shift has indeed occurred. I have shifted my focus from changing the world to healing myself. And the results of that process? So far, so good. I am suffering from a rare type of ovarian cancer and am half-way through my chemo treatments. Who knows what the months ahead will bring? All of you, dear readers, are living with uncertainty, but most of you just don't know it yet. I can report that uncertainty is not an impossible thing to live with; there is still time for everyday joys and lots of learning.

I am very grateful to all the people who have communicated with me by phone, email or in person. Changing and healing myself is clearly a group venture, and I have benefited from the wisdom of many. I have been spending a lot of time trying to make sense of this whole new journey, attempting to discern what gives me pleasure and what offers the opportunity for healing. Conventional medicine doesn't have a great deal of experience with my particular form of cancer, and it can be overwhelming sorting through all the information out there on complementary and alternative forms of treatment.

Nutrition and healing has been an interest of mine for at least ten years. This interest has grown since my diagnosis. There are many different cancer diets out there, and I have also discovered at least one good cancer cookbook. Some people have reported great cures from macrobiotic cooking, while others swear by juicing. Cancer diets seem to be long on general principles and short on tasty specific recipes, and tasty and healthful food really contributes to my quality of life. So I am going to share 4 tasty recipes, all of which have potential cancer fighting benefits. I'll share my sources for this assertion. All these recipes have been tested by me and are extremely tasty.

Fettuccini With Shiitake and Garlic Butter

Click on the recipe title to view this recipe on the recipezaar website. This recipe calls for shiitake mushrooms, found fresh in some parts of the country, otherwise available dried in stores with oriental cooking supplies. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center website has information on the research that has been done on shiitake mushrooms as a cancer cure. These mushrooms are a staple in certain oriental recipes, and substantial research has been done on their healing properties in Japan. If you use dried shiitake mushrooms, I would rehydrate at least 10 of them overnight in water. We found some fresh shiitake mushrooms at an area farmer's market, and thought the flavor in this recipe was out of sight!

Bran Flax Muffins

I found this recipe on the All Recipes site, where it was positively reviewed by 190 different reviewers. It uses an ingredient vital in any cancer fighting arsenal: freshly ground flax seeds. There is lots of discussion in user-oriented cancer groups about cancer preparations using flax seed and flax oil. Sloan Kettering's take on flax is here, but Stephen Martin, blogger at the Grouppe Kurosawa Natural Medicines blog, comes right out and says a flax muffin a day can have wonderful benefits. I'm not capable of sorting out the science on this, but Martin's credentials and orientation are impressive. Most important, these muffins, which I made for the first time today, are delicious!

Add-on note: where to find flax seed? I found flax seed at my local natural foods grocery store. If you don't have something like that nearby, you can check it out at your favorite online store. For example, and both carry flax seed. It's best to get organic, and then store what you buy in the freezer until you use it.

Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage Slaw

1/2 C. Cranberry Honey Vinegar (or substitute some other light vinegar)
1/2 C. Olive Oil
1 1/2 tsp. coarely cracked pepper
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 medium head red cabbage, cored & thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Directions: Combine vinegar, pepper, thyme, and salt in a large bowl. Mix well. Add cabbage and onion. Toss until coated. Salt to taste.

Cabbage is one of those cruciferous vegetables everyone has been telling you to eat. Cabbage is loaded with anti-oxidants, and red cabbage is loaded with vitamin C. The American Institute for Cancer Research has another red cabbage recipe on their website, which I view as a endorsement for the health benefits of red cabbage.

Lime Sorbet

2 cups sugar
3 ¾ c hot water
2 ¼ c lime juice (abt. 15 limes)
3 t. lemon juice
1 ½ T dark rum
2 drops green food coloring
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Dissolve sugar in hot water, add ingredients .Freeze. Before serving, process in food processor, then put back in freezer. This gives it a nice texture.

This recipe makes a ton of lime sorbet. A couple of days after my surgery, a friend of mine brought some of this stuff over. I swear the sorbet VIBRATED, it had such a dramatic effect on my taste buds. Man, this is good stuff. It is extremely high in vitamin C, and my system must have been calling out for this elixir. There's lots of controversy about whether vitamin C helps cancer; all I know is that my body LOVED it. Here is how Sloan Kettering describes the studies, debates, and some of the evidence about vitamin C.

My opinion is that science is not the answer to everything! Happy eating and abundant love and good health to one and all.

1 comment:

Fausto Intilla (fisico teorico) said...

Science Daily — Nearly 30 years after Nobel laureate Linus Pauling famously and controversially suggested that vitamin C supplements can prevent cancer, a team of Johns Hopkins scientists have shown that in mice at least, vitamin C - and potentially other antioxidants - can indeed inhibit the growth of some tumors ¯ just not in the manner suggested by years of investigation.
The conventional wisdom of how antioxidants such as vitamin C help prevent cancer growth is that they grab up volatile oxygen free radical molecules and prevent the damage they are known to do to our delicate DNA. The Hopkins study, led by Chi Dang, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and oncology and Johns Hopkins Family Professor in Oncology Research, unexpectedly found that the antioxidants' actual role may be to destabilize a tumor's ability to grow under oxygen-starved conditions. Their work is detailed this week in Cancer Cell.
"The potential anticancer benefits of antioxidants have been the driving force for many clinical and preclinical studies," says Dang. "By uncovering the mechanism behind antioxidants, we are now better suited to maximize their therapeutic use."
"Once again, this work demonstrates the irreplaceable value of letting researchers follow their scientific noses wherever it leads them," Dang adds.
The authors do caution that while vitamin C is still essential for good health, this study is preliminary and people should not rush out and buy bulk supplies of antioxidants as a means of cancer prevention.
The Johns Hopkins investigators discovered the surprise antioxidant mechanism while looking at mice implanted with either human lymphoma (a blood cancer) or human liver cancer cells. Both of these cancers produce high levels of free radicals that can be suppressed by feeding the mice supplements of antioxidants, either vitamin C or N-acetylcysteine (NAC).
However, when the Hopkins team examined cancer cells from cancer-implanted mice not fed the antioxidants, they noticed the absence of any significant DNA damage. "Clearly, if DNA damage was not in play as a cause of the cancer, then whatever the antioxidants were doing to help was also not related to DNA damage," says Ping Gao, Ph.D, lead author of the paper.
That conclusion led Gao and Dang to suspect that some other mechanism was involved, such as a protein known to be dependent on free radicals called HIF-1 (hypoxia-induced factor), which was discovered over a decade ago by Hopkins researcher and co-author Gregg Semenza, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Program in Vascular Cell Engineering. Indeed, they found that while this protein was abundant in untreated cancer cells taken from the mice, it disappeared in vitamin C-treated cells taken from similar animals.
"When a cell lacks oxygen, HIF-1 helps it compensate," explains Dang. "HIF-1 helps an oxygen-starved cell convert sugar to energy without using oxygen and also initiates the construction of new blood vessels to bring in a fresh oxygen supply."
Some rapidly growing tumors consume enough energy to easily suck out the available oxygen in their vicinity, making HIF-1 absolutely critical for their continued survival. But HIF-1 can only operate if it has a supply of free radicals. Antioxidants remove these free radicals and stop HIF-1, and the tumor, in its tracks.
The authors confirmed the importance of this "hypoxia protein" by creating cancer cells with a genetic variant of HIF-1 that did not require free radicals to be stable. In these cells, antioxidants no longer had any cancer-fighting power.
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Authors on the paper are Dean Felsher of Stanford; and Gao, Huafeng Zhang, Ramani Dinavahi, Feng Li, Yan Xiang, Venu Raman, Zaver Bhujwalla, Linzhao Cheng, Jonathan Pevsner, Linda Lee, Gregg Semenza and Dang of Johns Hopkins.
Note: This story has been adapted from material provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

Fausto Intilla