I study people who heal from cancer against all odds, usually after their doctors have sent them home saying there’s nothing more to be done. My decade of research on these incredible survivors is summarized in my book Radical Remission. But today I want to talk about one thing these survivors have in common: taking action.
Across the board, these cancer survivors made a shift from being passive about their health to being incredibly active. They went from being “good” patients who simply did whatever their doctors told them to becoming empowered patients who read up on the latest research, requested copies of their lab results, and sought out second opinions. In other words, they became the CEOs of their own health.
Take Shin, for example. Shin Terayama was a Japanese businessman who was diagnosed with kidney cancer at the age of 48. He did everything his doctors told him to do, including surgery, chemo, and radiation. Unfortunately, none of those worked, and he was eventually sent home for hospice care.
That’s when he started taking action. He began with simple baby steps, such as drinking filtered water and watching the sunrise every morning. As the months went by, he eventually changed every part of his life—from his diet to his stress levels to his spiritual practice. Three years after they sent him home for hospice care, Shin’s doctors couldn’t find any evidence of cancer in his body. Today, he is alive, well, and still cancer-free 28 years later.
How did he do it? Of course, this is just one story, and while we may never be able to prove exactly what caused Shin’s remission, studies suggest that people who take control of their health—including their physical, mental, and spiritual health—tend to live longer.
For example, researchers have found that cancer patients who feel helpless die sooner than those who feel that they can do things—even little things—to help their mood, comfort level, or immune system.
Here are some ways you can start taking control of your own health and shift out of helplessness into action:
1. Read the latest scientific research.
Knowledge is power, and a great place to gain knowledge is PubMed.gov. Known as the “Google” of medical journal articles, this site allows you to stay on top of the latest research.
Try typing some simple words into the site’s search bar, such as “cancer yoga,” and voilà! You’ll be able to read the latest studies on how yoga can benefit cancer patients.
2. Maintain an active lifestyle.
The evidence is clear: Sitting at our desks all day is killing us softly. The good news is that movement is the easy answer. One 2007 study of breast cancer survivors showed that exercising 30 minutes a day, along with eating a vegetable- and fruit-rich diet, cut their risk of dying in half.
3. Fill up on nutritious vegetables.
Sugary foods may taste better than vegetables, but they won’t help you live longer the way carrots do. For example, this study showed that eating carotene-rich vegetables leads to a significantly longer life span.
4. Practice stress management.
When we feel stressed, we stay in “fight-or-flight” mode, which means our immune systems get suppressed. Try shifting into “rest-and-repair” mode with a six-week stress management course, which has been shown to increase your immune system’s natural killer cell activity.
5. Keep laughing.
Decades of research have confirmed the age-old saying, “Happy people live longer.” When was the last time you belly-laughed? Try to do it at least once a day. YouTube is always good for a quick fix of laughter, whether it’s watching silly pranks or cute cat videos.
Absolutely fascinating things happen to your body when you meditate. You produce more melatonin, which helps you sleep better. You produce more antibodies, which strengthens your immune system. But perhaps most fascinating is that meditation can help you turn off disease-promoting genes.
7. Get help.
Some people can make lifestyle changes quickly and easily while others may need some hand-holding. Try signing up for a local exercise or meditation group for some in-person accountability. Or consider taking online courses (I recently launched one of my own) about how to take control of your health.
Here I go again with Exercise or an “active lifestyle.” It is not just me, but most of the articles I read stress Exercise. I have been researching Health and Nutrition and “read the latest scientific research” since 2004. I said in my “Are You Fighting Aging?” Blog “For ‘Fighting Aging’ for my Body my Focus is my Core, my pH and my Gut.” “Nutritious vegetables” is one way I keep my “pH” Alkaline. Cancer cannot grow in an Alkaline Environment. Acidic Environment is where cancer grows. This “Health Tip” from “Healing With Nutrition” states some things that create an Acidic Environment:
Cancer thrives in an acidic environment, created by the following types of foods: 1. Fried foods (especially fried meats, as harmful acid-producing glycation occurs when sugar and protein in meat are heated together). 2. Nutrient-deficient, high calorie fast foods. 3. Frozen/boxed/bagged foods (nutrient-depleted processed foods). 4. Soda, which contains sodium benzoate, caramel color, sugar (or aspartame) and phosphoric acid. 5. Baked goods (especially those made with white processed flour). To minimize the risk of cancer, maintain a healthy body weight, and avoid foods which create an acidic, cancer-friendly environment in the body.
Speaking of cancer this e-mail article “These 4 Healthy Habits Can Cut Your Cancer Risk By 40%” from “Self” states:
New research finds that little tweaks to your lifestyle can have a major impact on your risk of developing cancer.
You’ve heard that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can lower your risk of developing cancer, but new research shows just how much of an impact it can have. According to a new study published in the journal JAMA Oncology, up to 40 percent of cancer cases can be prevented by making small healthy tweaks to your lifestyle.
For the study, researchers tracked more than 135,000 people and found that about 20 to 40 percent of cancer cases and about half of cancer deaths can be prevented by following a “healthy lifestyle pattern.” People who met that criteria never smoked or no longer smoked, didn’t drink heavily (women had one drink a day or less and men had two or fewer drinks a day), had a BMI between 18.5 to 27.5, and did either 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of “vigorous” physical activity a week.
“There have been substantial data supporting the importance of lifestyle factors for cancer prevention,” lead study author Mingyang Song, M.D., Sc.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, tells SELF. “Our findings reinforced that.”
It seems pretty doable, and Dale Shepard, M.D., a medical oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, tells SELF it is. “These are all very attainable things,” he says. “With some simple, modest lifestyle changes, you can have a really big impact on your cancer risk.”
While the things that lead to the development of cancer are complex, Amber Orman, M.D., a radiation oncologist at the Moffitt Cancer Center, tells SELF that it’s “impossible” to deny that lifestyle factors play a major role. “What we do to and put into our bodies every day has a lasting effect, and we must never underestimate the power we have over our own health,” she says.
But why do these factors matter? Alcohol use, which has been linked with certain cancers, like colon, breast, head and neck, and primary liver cancer, can directly impact DNA repair, Shepard says. “It can keep cells from regenerating, so you have direct damage to cells,” he explains. Our bodies eventually reach a point where they can no longer repair this DNA damage, which results “in an environment conducive to cancer development,” Orman says.
Alcohol can also affect estrogen levels, creating hormonal changes that create an increased risk for breast cancer, Shepard explains. Not only that, it causes oxidants, a form of oxygen that causes damage to our health, to be formed in your body. “It’s an anti-antioxidant,” Shepard says.
Working out, eating well, and maintaining a healthy BMI can help lower your bodily inflammation, which has also been linked to cancer at higher levels. Excess body fat secretes many hormones and molecules that can lead to insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, cholesterol abnormalities, and a chronically inflamed bodily environment where cancer can thrive, Orman explains.
If you’ve been slacking on going to the gym and haven’t been so great about your diet lately, don’t stress. Experts say you can still turn things around. “I am a firm believer that our most powerful cancer treatment is prevention, and it is never too late to begin,” says Orman. “While I treat cancer, I spend a significant portion of my time counseling my patients towards positive lifestyle changes.” And, if you’re already doing them, it’s good to know you’re on the right track.
There is no better “meditate” than meditating on the Word of God. Meditating on the Word of God is how people keep the Holy Spirit Built Up. It is also how people renew their Mind. My daily Bible reading says it best:
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalms 1:1-3)
The Bible and God’s Process (Posted at this Website) is where our “mental, and spiritual health” comes from. Our body takes its orders from our Mind. When our Mind is messed up our bodies will be messed up too. The best way to keep our Mind from being messed up is making sure our Mind lines up with the Word of God. I eat meat, but I only eat meat once a day because eating meat lines up with the Word of God.
There is no better “Help” than the Holy Spirit. He navigates us through God’s Process. God’s Process is how people fulfill their “Life Purpose.” God’s Process is people “taking action” by doing their Acts of Faith. Fulfilling our “Life Purpose” is another “Fighting Aging” Tool by helping people stay Young and Vibrant. Sometimes the Holy Spirit has me dying “laughing” because He is good at showing us ourselves. People must learn to laugh at themselves. The Holy Spirit is called The Comforter because He even helps with “stress management.”
ARE YOU TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE BY DOING YOUR ACTS OF FAITH TO FULFILL YOUR LIFE PURPOSE?