Blog Article Archive

Study: After beating cancer, survivors less likely to eat a healthy diet – Paula Wolfson

WASHINGTON — A new study finds that cancer survivors, as a whole, have bad eating habits — they take in a lot of empty calories and are less likely to eat a healthy diet than Americans in general.

Researchers at Tufts University in Boston analyzed the diets of 1,500 cancer survivors and 3,000 adults with no history of the disease, ranking them according to government dietary guidelines.

No one did well, but the cancer survivors did worse.

“It is troubling,” says Danielle Cook, an holistic nutritionist and the author of “Happily Hungry: Smart Recipes for Kids with Cancer.”

Cook, whose own son beat cancer as a child, is especially concerned about teen and young adult cancer survivors.

“Once their treatment is done, a lot of them feel invincible and the nutrition component just doesn’t really come into play,” she says.

The Tufts researchers looked at survivors across a range of ages, and the authors of the study point out that poor eating habits can increase their risk of developing other health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.

“It is quite remarkable that you can come through a cancer and you put yourself at risk for other illnesses and setback by following a poor diet,” says Cook.

She emphasizes there is a tremendous need for cancer survivors to pay attention to what they are eating, and focus on what she calls “real foods” — fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats.

The Tufts study did not look at the reasons behind the poor dietary choices of cancer survivors. Treatment can cause nausea and affect the taste buds, but those side effects tend to ease over time.

It’s possible the poor food choices are the result of bad habits acquired during chemotherapy, when patients start eating certain calorie-rich and nutrient-poor foods to counter weight loss.

But Cook says there can also be a bit of patient rationalizing at play.

“What is concerning to me is those patients who just feel that the nutrition component really isn’t that important, that they beat cancer and should just go about living their life,” she says.

The Tufts researchers says the cancer survivors they surveyed went beyond recommend levels of saturated fat and salt, and did not get enough vitamin D, vitamin E, potassium or calcium.

Their findings were published Tuesday in the journal Cancer.

New Research: Kimchi to prevent gastric cancer?

Jeong M, Park JM, Han YM, Park KY, Lee DH, Yoo JH, Cho JY, Hahm KB. Dietary prevention of Helicobacter pylori-associated gastric cancer with kimchi. Oncotarget. 2015 Aug 10.

Daily dietary intake of Kimchi can be an effective way either to rejuvenate H. pylori-atrophic gastritis or to prevent tumorigenesis.


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Wild and Crazy Morning Energizer Smoothie

By Tanya Willis

Yield: 1-2 servings


  • 2 small pitted medjool dates
  • 1 small banana
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon organic raw almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon organic vanilla liquid or powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut water or plain filtered water
  • 1/2 cup organic almond milk (or homemade almond or hemp milk)
  • 3 dandelion flower heads and 3 dandelion leaves (don’t use stems)
  • 2 cups ice


  1. Put everything in your vitamix, or other blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a cup.
  3. Enjoy!

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As I Lay Dying – LA Times – Laurie Becklund

I am dying, literally, at my home in Hollywood, of metastatic breast cancer, the only kind of breast cancer that kills. For six years I’ve known I was going to die. I just didn’t know when.

Then, a couple of weeks before Christmas, a new, deadly diagnosis gave me a deadline. No doctor would promise me I’d make it to 2015.

Promise me, I told my friends and family, that you’ll never say that I died after “fighting a courageous battle with breast cancer.” This tired, trite line dishonors the dead and the dying by suggesting that we, the victims, are responsible for our deaths or that the fight we were in was ever fair.

Promise me you’ll never wear a pink ribbon in my name or drop a dollar into a bucket that goes to breast cancer “awareness” for “early detection for a cure,” the mantra of fund-raising juggernaut Susan G. Komen, which has propagated a distorted message about breast cancer and how to “cure” it.

I’m proof that early detection doesn’t cure cancer. I had more than 20 mammograms, and none of them caught my disease. In fact, we now have significant studies showing that routine mammogram screening, which may result in misdiagnoses, unnecessary treatment and radiation overexposure, can harm more people than it helps.

In 1996, during a self-exam, I found a peanut-sized lump in one breast that turned out to be stage one breast cancer. I had the “best,” most common, kind of breast cancer, found it early, got a lumpectomy and short dose of radiation. Five years out, my doctor told me there was little chance of recurrence and said, “Have a great life!”

You can imagine my shock when, 13 years after my initial diagnosis, I was in gridlock on the Harbor Freeway and got a call from my doctor with the results of a PET scan ordered after routine blood labs. “Maybe you should pull over,” he said.

Half an hour later, in an elementary school parking lot, I learned the scans revealed stage four breast cancer in my bones, liver, lungs and brain: a death sentence with an average life expectancy of three years.

I demanded the truth, always, from my doctors. I was a reporter who needed facts to plan whatever life I had left. I would not live in denial. But I was too scared, too private to tell anyone except my husband, my daughter and three friends. My very cells suddenly became my most intimate secrets.

Who would ever sign another book contract with a dying woman? Or remember Laurie Becklund, valedictorian, Fulbright scholar, former Times staff writer who exposed the Salvadoran death squads and helped The Times win a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 1992 L.A. riots? More important, and more honest, who would ever again look at me just as Laurie?

It took me more than two years to summon the courage to meet others like me, at a Metastatic Breast Cancer Network conference. When I arrived there were no pink ribbons in sight, except for a single lapel pin that had been turned upside down like a noose.

I introduced myself to the group’s president and vice president, who were comparing their hands, red and shiny from the side effects of various chemo treatments. Metaphorically, I had been both hiding my identity and fearing I’d lose it. It wasn’t until that day that I learned some people literally lose theirs, via their fingerprints.

The women at the conference greeted me with questions. They were shocked to meet someone whose cancer had metastasized to all four possible sites breast cancer can go. How was I even alive? They had set up lunch tables labeled “Brain,” “Bones,” “Lungs” and “Liver.” I told myself, at least I could table-hop.

Later that day, in one of the most powerful rituals I have ever seen, the group’s president asked all of us to stand, then sit back down when she reached the number of years since our diagnosis. At two years, most had to sit down. When she reached seven, no one I could see was still standing.

Looking back, I realize that I’ve been trying to report my way out of this disease. I’ve read so many books; researched hundreds of clinical trials; done my best to learn the complicated language of cancer and microbiology; attended conferences in Indiana, Florida, Mexico and Portugal. I joined online forums. I signed on with the user name “WontDieofIgnorance.” Despite it all, I fear that is exactly what is going to happen. I might as well have been playing Chutes and Ladders, a childhood board game whose outcome is based on rolls of the dice.

The medical establishment tells me I have “failed” a number of therapies. That’s not right: The establishment and its therapies have failed me. The system we live in as metastatic breast cancer patients is simply not designed to deal with the cycle we are living and dying in. The estimated 40,000 women (and a few men) who die annually can’t wait years for FDA-approved, “gold standard” clinical trials. We’re dying now.

Another quarter-million Americans are estimated to be waiting in the wings. I say “estimated” because no one is required to report a metastatic diagnosis. Death certificates normally report symptoms such as “respiratory failure,” not the actual disease. We are literally uncounted.

We now know that breast cancer is not one disease. What works for one person might not for another: There is no one “cure.” We are each, in effect, one-person clinical trials. Yet the knowledge generated from those trials will die with us because there is no comprehensive database of metastatic breast cancer patients, their characteristics and what treatments did and didn’t help them.

In the Big Data-era, this void is criminal. Consider what Wall Street does. Even the tiniest companies can see how much stock they sell, compare themselves to cohorts, review history, predict trends. Why can’t we create such a database for cancer patients, so we can all learn from patient experiences and make more educated decisions on what treatments will extend and improve lives?

The most powerful organization in the breast cancer universe, Susan G. Komen , has raised $2.5 billion over the last 20 years, much more than many corporations will ever earn. Yet Komen channels only a fraction of those funds into research or systems to help those who are already seriously sick. Most of that money continues to go to a breast cancer “awareness” campaign that is now painfully out of date.

We need people — patients, doctors, scientists, politicians, investors, families — to make a fresh start. We must create a new system of data collection and an open, online, broad-range database about patient histories that will provide information invaluable to those who’ve been given a death sentence. Patients as well as doctors must contribute.

It will come too late for me. But it is possible to end the game: Patients shouldn’t have to climb up ladders and fall down chutes.

Laurie Becklund, a former Times staff writer, died Feb. 8. She wrote this over the last few months. 

Raspberry Cream Parfait

Yield: 4 small mason jars (250ml each)

Cookie Dough Granola


  • 4 cups certified gluten-free oats
  • 1 cups chopped raw walnuts
  • 2 cups ground raw pumpkin seeds (I grind mine in my Blendtec or my coffee grinder)
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • ½ tablespoon black strap molasses
  • 3 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup liquefied coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking tray with parchment.
  2. Combine oats, chopped walnuts, ground pumpkin seeds, and almond flour in a large bowl.
  3. In a smaller bowl, combine maple syrup, vanilla, molasses, applesauce, coconut oil, and sea salt.
  4. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  5. Spread onto baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes. The edges of the granola like to brown faster so make sure you mix them into the middle. I usually stir the granola after the first 10 minutes and then every 10 minutes after that. You MUST watch this and stir regularly to prevent from burning.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool completely on tray.
  7. Store in a sealed container on the counter for two-three days, then move to the freezer.

Sweet Cashew Cream


  • 1 ¼ cup cashew pulp (made from 1 ½ cups raw cashews)
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup (honey would work too)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch sea salt


  1. Make the cashew pulp: place the cashews in a bowl and cover with water (by about two inches). Let soak overnight (or at least 6-8 hours). I always cover mine with a plate while they’re soaking.
  2. Drain and rinse the cashews and add them to a blender, along with 4 ½ cups water, and a pinch of sea salt. Blend until liquid.
  3. Set a nut-milk bag over a big bowl or pitcher (a piece of cheesecloth works too). Pour blended cashews into bowl or pitcher and let sit until all the liquid has soaked through.
  4. The liquid can be used for milk (I use homemade nut milk in all my baking and smoothies)! The contents of the cheesecloth (cashew pulp) or nut-milk bag can be used for the cashew cream.
  5. Place the cashew pulp, maple syrup, coconut oil, lemon juice, vanilla and sea salt in a small bowl. Stir until well combined.
  6. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Here’s a link to my homemade almond milk recipe– you can just sub cashews for the almonds. If you don’t want to make homemade milk you can skip this step by soaking 1 1/2 cups of raw cashews for 6 hours, rinse and add to a blender with the above ingredients. Your cream may not be as smooth, but it will still be yummy!

Build Parfaits:

  1. Place 3 tablespoons of sweet cashew cream in each small mason jar (250ml).
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of berries.
  3. Top with 3 tablespoons of cookie dough granola.
  4. Add 3 tablespoons of sweet cashew cream.
  5. Top with 1 tablespoon of cookie dough granola.
  6. Finish with a handful of berries.
  7. Serve immediately or let sit in the fridge for a couple of hours.

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