June 22, 2024
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June 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

You Are (or Will Be) What You Eat

(Courtesy of SMGH) A familiar statement that we have all heard is “You are what you eat!” According to various studies, we can add to that statement—“You are or will be what you eat!”

Growing evidence points to certain dietary habits as increasing or decreasing cancer risk. And nutrition is thought to play an important role in treating and coping with cancer1—studies suggest that simple lifestyle changes, such as following a healthy diet, could prevent 30-50% of all cancers.2

It’s difficult to prove that certain foods cause cancer. However, observational studies have repeatedly indicated that high consumption of certain foods may increase the likelihood of developing cancer. And other studies have shown that being overweight or obese is linked to increased cancer risk and that there are certain foods that contain cancer-fighting properties. Let us examine these issues and how they affect our Shabbos meals.

Your New Diet

Other than smoking and infection, being obese is the single biggest risk factor for cancer worldwide.3 It increases your risk of 13 different types of cancer, including of the esophagus, colon, pancreas and kidney, as well as breast cancer after menopause.4

So the solution is simple—lose weight! Or is it? A diet high in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein may prevent cancer. The good news is, our cholent is safe for us on Shabbos, and probably should be served a couple of times during the week, with some modification. A list of 13 foods that could lower your risk of cancer5 might give you ideas on how to change your Shabbos meals. Start the Friday meal with fatty fish followed by a salad that contains tomatoes, garlic, nuts and olive oil. Then your main meal must have broccoli, carrots, turmeric, beans and maybe a small portion of lean meat. Dessert should contain berries, cinnamon, nuts, citrus fruits and flaxseed.

For Shabbos day, try a meatless cholent with more cooked dry beans. Note: To reduce the gas effect from beans, soak them overnight (Thursday) in water and ½ cup baking soda. Drain and change water to soak again with ½ cup baking soda on Friday morning.

For seudah shelishit avoid processed meat which is a carcinogen6—something that causes cancer. Simply put—no more deli rolls! And refined carbs, salt and alcohol may increase your risk.

Lifestyle Change

“As I am writing this, I can already feel the daggers that will be coming from our kehila,” said George Matyjewicz, PhD, community liaison at St. Mary’s General Hospital. ‘Who is this wise guy, changing our time-honored Shabbos meals?’ Sorry, but your health is more important, and if we don’t take some positive action, we stand a chance of being one of the statistics. Change of diet is not the cure-all for fighting cancer, but it can’t hurt.”

If, chas v’shalom, you are experiencing some unexplained weight loss, fatigue, fever, pain, changes in your skin, sores that don’t heal, cough or hoarseness that doesn’t go away or unusual bleeding, call your doctor immediately or visit the emergency room at St. Mary’s General Hospital. These are symptoms of cancer but can also be something else—don’t take any chances.

With Ashkenazi Jews, the genetic mutations for cancer risks are BRCA 1 and 2, HNPCC and APC. If an Ashkenazi woman has inherited a mutated copy of BRCA 1 or 2 from a parent, they have an estimated 50-75% chance of developing breast cancer7 during their lifetime (compared to 12% for the general population). These women have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer as well—30-50% for BRCA 1 and 10-20% for BRCA 2. Ashkenazi Jews with these mutations may also have an increased risk of developing pancreatic, prostate and skin cancer.

HNPCC & APC are two genetic mutations linked to gastrointestinal cancers. APC (adenomatous polyposis coli) causes an increased risk of colon cancer. Ashkenazi Jews’ risk of colon cancer is about double that of the general population. HNPCC (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer or Lynch Syndrome) increases the risk of colon cancer at a younger age (>40). HNPCC is also associated with several other cancers, including endometrial, gastric, ovarian, small intestine, bile duct, pancreas, brain and ureters.

Cancer does not have to be a death sentence, especially with today’s technology and expert physicians. Robotic surgery, where the incision is less than the size of an M&M candy, enables physicians to pinpoint a lesion and remove it safely without damaging surrounding tissues. If the lesion is too close to a vein, then an interventional radiologist can perform additional procedures to destroy the remaining lesions.

On staff at St. Mary’s General we have Ashkenazi physicians who are cognizant of our heritage. Dr. Natan Krohn8, a double board-certified physician in gastroenterology and internal medicine, manages a wide spectrum of gastrointestinal conditions, including common symptoms such as acid reflux, swallowing difficulties and bowel irregularity, as well as colon cancer diagnosis and prevention. He will do the colorectal cancer screening, and if cancer is diagnosed, he will call on either Dr. Arvin Adler, a radiation oncologist, or Dr. Jeffrey Aronoff, a colorectal surgeon, as needed. No longer do you have to travel out of state for medical procedures!

Colorectal cancer refers to cancers found in the colon or rectum and it is the fourth most commonly detected cancer in the U.S., and with Ashkenazi Jews, it may be the highest of any ethnic group in the world.9 There are approximately 145,600 new cases and 51,020 deaths a year. The five-year survival rate is 64% (2008-2014). The good news is death rates from colorectal cancer have dropped by 55% from 1970 to 2018, mainly due to finding cancers earlier through screening and better treatments. The bad news is death rates and diagnosis rates have both increased in adults younger than age 5510.

So, lifestyle changes to prevent cancer and early screening to detect cancer sooner, together with state-of-the art technology and expert physicians, may help keep you here until the moshiach comes!

St. Mary’s General Hospital—nationally recognized, locally preferred among the top hospitals in America for health, quality and patient safety! The hospital has over 550 physicians and 1,200 employees, with every staff member committed to providing respectful, personalized, high-quality care to satisfy patients’ needs and exceed their expectations. St. Mary’s General is a proud member of Prime Healthcare, which has more Patient Safety Excellence Awards for five consecutive years (2016-2020) than any other health system in the country including a “Top 15 Healthcare System” by Truven Health Analytics. To learn more about St. Mary’s General Hospital visit https://www.smh-nj.com/ or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StMarysGeneral.

For more information, please contact George Matyjewicz, PhD, community liaison at [email protected].

1 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15496224/

2 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24351322/

3 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27909911/

4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3773450/

5 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cancer-fighting-foods#TOC_TITLE_HDR_13

6 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26514947/

7 https://www.oncolink.org/risk-and-prevention/genetics-family-history/ashkenazi-jewish-heritage-and-genetic-risk

8 not related to Rabbi Paysach Krohn

9 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11411198/

10 https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/facts-and-figures-2021.html

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