Custom Search

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Feature Articles - November 2007

Is it true that fewer Asian women develop breast cancer than women in the West?
by Chikara Ohi

As pointed out by Mrs. Yuki Masuda, it is true that fewer Asian women develop breast cancer than women in the West. But some research has shown that when women move from a country with a low incidence of breast cancer, such as Japan, to a country with a high incidence, such as the United States, their breast-cancer risk goes up. Because Japanese women consume lower-fat diets than do U.S. women, it is possible that a fat-rich diet is the cause behind the rise in cancer risk. Also the influence of a diet containing soy protein has been researched with regard to certain health benefits. Women's intake of soy protein is potentially beneficial with respect to risk factors for breast cancer and may in part explain the low incidence of breast cancer and its correlation with a high soy intake among Japanese and Chinese women. So, simply because Mrs. Masuda is a Japanese woman, she may not always be cancer-free in the future.

In interviewing Mrs. Masuda, I discover that she likes to stay at home; she doesn't exercise much; she is a moderate drinker; she eats quite a bit of beef and pork; at home she uses sweet coconut oil or margarine; she dislikes most vegetables; she prefers to eat Western-style desserts; and occasionally she likes to eat three or four desserts at one time. However, mammograms and other laboratory tests indicate that Mrs. Masuda is cancer-free, but her LDL-level is above normal. So, in addition to her being overweight, tests indicate that she has consumed too many of the wrong kinds of food.

Therefore I want to inform her of the following new insights and relationships emerging from recent research data: Women who eat diets rich in animal foods reach menarche (the first occurrence of menstruation) earlier, thereby producing more estrogen over their lifetimes and developing breast cancer at a significantly higher rate. In other words, low-fat, high-fiber diets are linked with lower levels of female hormones and a lower risk for breast cancer; and fats that are common in some diets have been linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. The substances, called trans fatty acids, are prominent in many processed and fast foods, margarine and some vegetable oils. A study of nearly 700 postmenopausal European women found that those whose bodies contained the highest levels of trans fatty acids were 40 percent more likely than those with the lowest levels to develop breast cancer.

So, she must decrease her LDL cholesterol level in her blood. And also she has to change her menu because her favorite foods, such as beef, pork, sweet coconut oil and margarine, are rich in cholesterol and fats. In addition to general ideas, such as telling her to increase her intake of vegetables and fruits, I recommend such foods that not only have low cholesterol but also have much fiber, such as mushrooms, konnyaku, and kanten. The konnyaku is made from konnyaku-imo. The kanten is made from grass in the sea. Both of them are elastic and well known in Japan. Fibers in foods are effective for lowering cholesterol absorbed from the intestine.

In addition, she should do exercise as much as possible every day. Maybe it's time for her workouts to go along with her low-fat diet. So, I want to recommend low-impact aerobic exercise to her. For example, I have joined a health club and use a stationary bike, a treadmill and a stair-climber there. These machines are designed for people who want low-impact aerobic exercise. If she joins a club like mine, she gets the same benefit she gets from jogging. But she doesn't have to go out in any weather to clock up the miles.

Moreover, I suggest that she check her cholesterol level, LDL level, etc. in her blood every year. In sum, my advice to her is --
* Eat a variety of foods.
* Maintain a healthy weight.
* Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.
* Choose a diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits and grain products.
* Use sugars in moderation.
* Use salt and sodium only in moderation.
* If she drinks alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.
* Do exercise as much as possible every day.
* Check her cholesterol level, LDL level, the blood every year.

No comments: