Fight the Good Fight

Fight the Good FightFight the Good Fight

Stop three killers with one strategy

By Michael Roizen, M.D., and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

POWIE! Batman and Robin triumphed over Gotham City gangsters because they were team players – a dynamic duo (The superhero costumes didn’t hurt, either). Follow their lead: Put together your own powerful posse, and you can knock out not one, not two, but THREE of the biggest, baddest health threats of all (ZAP!). You don’t even have to wear a cape.

First, we have a small confession: Today’s column was originally about how to slash your risk of colorectal cancer. Since both of us have had precancerous colon polyps, we’re extra-committed to telling YOU how to avoid this public enemy.

Then BAM! Out came news that knocked our socks off. The exact same strategies that cut your risk for colon cancer (by an impressive 23 percent in one new study) shrink your threat of heart attacks and strokes, too.

Coincidence? Not really. While cancer and clogged blood vessels may seem to have as much in common as politician Sarah Palin and her TV alter ego Tina Fey, under the surface there are more similarities than you’d think. The same combo of defensive strategies can knock all three – heart attack, stroke, colon cancer – back on their heels.

Teaming Up

Heart disease and stroke are the leading killers in North America. Colon cancer is the No. 2 cause of cancer deaths. So putting your defense team in place couldn’t be more important. Evidence: In a new study of 55,487 people, those who followed our “fab 5” favorite strategies (below) cut their colorectal cancer risk by more than twice as much as those who followed just one. This study is a big deal: Not only was it huge and long (10 years), but it’s one of the first to look at what a combination of strategies can do for you, not just one.

In similar good news, a 20-year study just announced that 60 percent of people who follow all five strategies have low “bad” LDL cholesterol, good blood pressure and no diabetes –  meaning they’re at low risk for heart attacks and strokes. Do the same, and you’re 12 times more likely to avoid them than if you do just one.

The FAB 5

These potent protectors act like caped crusaders, defending you on many fronts from strokes, heart attacks and colorectal cancer.

1. Eat like your life depends on it. It does. Put simply, eat loads of fruit and vegetables; 100 percent whole grains; some fish, poultry and healthy fats (think nuts, avocados, olive/canola oils); and very little red meat (or full-fat dairy foods). All the fiber in this diet helps fight colon cancer by speeding potential carcinogens out of your body. Fruit and vegetables also supply vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that help reduce blood pressure and lousy LDL cholesterol, plus they turn on your body’s cell-protecting systems. Why is it so important to minimize red meat? It’s packed with saturated fat that boosts inflammation, which can damage DNA, provoking cancer’s start. In fact, eating meat daily ups your risk of cancer or a fatal heart attack by 30 percent.

2. Don’t even think about smoking. Or hanging around with people who do; secondhand smoke’s nearly as bad. Tobacco raises colon cancer risk by damaging your DNA. It endangers your heart and brain by encouraging blood clots and raising blood pressure. It also costs you a bundle and makes your breath stink.

3. Stay as active as a kid. Play hockey, work out, dance like a maniac, whatever. ‘Exercise” by any name reduces growth factors that encourage cancer cells to reproduce. Plus, its benefits for your heart and brain could fill a book: lower blood pressure, more flexible arteries, better circulation, less lousy LDL cholesterol, more healthy HDL, extra room for memory storage in your brain and on.

4. If you drink, have one a day. One a day, by the way, is not the same as seven on Friday night. Guys can have two, but stop there. Moderate amounts of alcohol are good for your cardiovascular system. Immoderate amounts up your odds of a fatal encounter with a heart attack, stroke or colon cancer.

5. Watch your waist. It doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on the scales, too, but it’s even more important to keep your waist under 37 inches if you’re a woman, and under 40 for guys. The point is to avoid deep abdominal fat, which increases cancer and heart/brain risk by boosting body-wide inflammation. KAPLOOEY!

The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, are authors of “YOU: On a Diet.” Want more? See “The Dr. Oz Show” on TV (check local listings). To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com.
(c) 2010 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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