Preventing Breast and Prostate Cancer.

20 Dec

Dr. Michael F. Roizen

Co-Author of 4 #1 NY Times Bestsellers including: YOU Staying Young.

The Owner’s Manual For Extending Your Warranty (Free Press)

Our basic premise is that your body is amazing.  You get a do over. It doesn’t take that long, and it isn’t that hard if you know what to do.  In these notes, we give you a short course in what to do so it becomes easy for you, and for you to teach others. We want you to know how much control you have over both the  quality and length of your life.

Perhaps nothing scares a woman more than a call back for a mammogram like “you have something suspicious…” Or, for a guy, something like, “I feel something hard where I shouldn’t have” when that digital rectal exam is over. Or being told, “your PSA rose too much this year, we need to talk about a 12 or 14 quadrant biopsy of your prostate.”  So, what are some things you can do to prevent having to hear any of this from your doctor? Two months ago we promised to talk about ways to prevent prostate and breast cancer—and there are five basic principles:

1. Feed Your Immune System and Don’t Stimulate RAS. These days, you don’t have to be a dietitian to know that certain foods will create some serious stimulation of genes (The RAS family is one example) that encourage prostate and breast cancer growth and others that inhibit such genes and growth. Simple carbs, added sugars, added syrups, saturated fats and trans fats are five choices that start, accelerate, and magnify the inflammatory process. These stimulate the RAS family, and promote breast and prostate cancer, and there is no reason to have them around. That donut, that added sugar, that corn syrup, that full-sugared cola, and that chili-drenched hot dog doesn’t just add to your lousy cholesterol, they also stimulate your genes to facilitate cancer growth. We could spend an entire book talking about the fat around our waists (oh, wait, we already did that twice—YOU: ON A Diet, The Owner’s Manual for Waist Management, Revised is the current version). But we also need to spend some time talking about the fat in your diet. Most of us know that dietary fats come in two general forms: Either they’re good for you, or they’re more destructive than tire tread marks on armadillos. You probably know that you should avoid the bad kinds (saturated and trans fats) the way you avoid telemarketers.

Cruciferous veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, watercress and arugula) and walnuts (not other nuts) inhibit breast and prostate cancers. Ten years from now, we may know a lot more about specific foods for your specific breast or prostate genomes, but these choices are clear ways to help avoid breast and prostate tumors for now.

2. Get Your Clothes Wet. We may not like to see sweat on treadmills or public speakers, but we want to see it on you. While we recommend different kinds of physical activity in different circumstances (including resistance exercise, walking, and stretching). The way to improve immune function is to sweat more than a kid in the principal’s office. In addition to thirty minutes of daily walking to reach 10,000 steps a day, aim for a minimum of sixty minutes a week of cardiovascular or sweating activity—ideally in three twenty-minute sessions—in which you raise your heart rate to 80 percent or more of its age-adjusted maximum (220 minus your age) for an extended period of time. How to do this? We recommend low-impact activities like swimming, cycling, or using an elliptical trainer to get your heart rate up without compromising the quality of your joints in the process (and to change activities, so you don’t get repetitive use injuries from doing the same activity over and over). We also recommend interval training—that is, alternating periods of maximum effort with periods of recovery—for the maximum benefit of your heart. (Check with your health professional beforehand; her or she may want to try it in the controlled setting of a stress test first.) Even doing one minute at the end of every ten with maximum effort can be beneficial.

3. Kiss YOUR Butt goodbye. No we’re not talking about weight, but about tobacco. It’s still the leading cause of cancer. If you don’t smoke but live or work in a smoke-filled environment, that’s still going to age you. We even speak about avoiding living or breathing within 2 blocks of a freeway. Spending just one hour in the presence of secondhand smoke is the equivalent of smoking four cigarettes. Whether the smoke you’re breathing is from your own cigarette or someone else’s, or even from someone else’s water pipe or e-cigarette, it weakens your immune system, and promotes cancer. We have a way to help you—try (Note: there is a charge).

4. Create Your Backup Plan: Stress is almost as great a cause of heart attacks as tobacco is; but stress isn’t all-bad. It’s what gives you the concentration and ability to finish a project or meet a deadline. But stress can linger around like week-old leftovers and create its own kind of stink. So in periods of high stress, you need to have a plan that works for you. Exercise and meditation work for some people, and both of them will help you manage chronic stress through the release of such feel-good substances as nitric oxide and brain chemicals called endorphins. But in the heat of the moment, at peak periods of high intensity, you should be able to pull a quick stress-busting behavior out of your biological bag of tricks. You can find a great teaching program for this at (look for “Stress Free Now”). Whatever backup plan you have, practice it daily.

5. Add A Helper, and Avoid A Bad Actor. 1st helper, 162 mg of aspirin. We recommend half a regular aspirin or two baby aspirins (162 milligrams total) every day if you’re a typical man over thirty-five or a woman over forty. Why? Many studies of primary prevention have shown that two baby aspirins decrease the risk of breast cancer by 40+ percent, and nine other cancers (colon rectal, esophageal, liver, prostate –what is good for the breast is usually good for the prostate, and visa-versa, etc). Aspirin has risk, so check with your health professional before you begin. You can reduce potential gastric discomfort by drinking a half glass of warm water before and after taking aspirin; the pills dissolve faster in warm water and are less likely to cause stomach irritation and ulcerations and bleeding.  Avoid more than 600mg a day of calcium in supplements. They are associated with increased prostate cancer (and as we said above, what’s usually bad for the prostate is also bad for breasts). You want to get your calcium (you need about 1200 mg a day) mainly from foods.

Thanks for reading.

Young Dr Mike

NOTE: You should NOT take this as medical advice. 

This article is of the opinion of its author.

Before you do anything, please consult with your doctor.

You can follow Dr Roizen  (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories  of the week) on twitter @YoungDrMike. 

Feel free to continue to send questions to You can follow Dr Roizen on twitter @YoungDrMike (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week).  The YOU docs have a new web site:  and its companion the only site we know of where you can find skin products proven to meet the claims (opened for business on June 1st, 2012), and a new book: YOU: The Owner’s Manual for Teens.

Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. His radio show streams live on  Saturdays from 5-7 p.m . E-mail him questions at   He is the co-author of 4 #1 NY Times Best Sellers including : YOU Staying Young and YOU: The Owner’s Manual. He is Chief Medical Consultant to the two year running Emmy award winning Dr Oz show– The Dr Oz show is #2 nationally in daytime TV.  See what all the fun is about, and what he, The Enforcer, is up to. Check local listings or log onto for channel and time. And for more health info, log onto anytime.

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