World Cancer Day is an ideal opportunity to highlight the important role that sport and exercise can play in the fight against the disease. As a complement to treatments, physical activity can slow the progression of the disease, improve quality of life and reduce the risk of relapse. Here’s a selection of suitable activities to try, preferably with a friend.
Getting moving while fighting cancer or after recovery is essential for reducing fatigue (reduced by 36% on average according to several scientific studies), limiting the loss of muscle mass caused by anticancer treatments, and managing side effects.
Sport is also an excellent remedy for lifting mood and regaining mental wellbeing. It promotes sleep, stimulates immunity and helps rebuild self-esteem.
After recovery, physical activity can improve survival rates by reducing the risk of metastasis and relapse. Three 20- to 30-minute sessions per week are recommended, as regularity is more important than intensity.
Ayurveda also recommends a number of herbs for preventing cancer and there is a growing body of scientific studies that backs this ancient knowledge. Here are some common herbs which are proven to have anti-cancer properties.
Amla is an Ayurvedic superfood. It is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C and also contains quercetin, phyllaemblic compounds, gallic acid, tannins, flavonoids, pectin and various polyphenolic compounds, making it the king of rejuvenation. Scientific research of three decades has proven the traditional use of amla to be correct. Laboratory trials of amla extracts have shown its ability to kill and prevent growth of cancer cells while not harming the healthy cells.
Garlic contains sulphur, arginine, flavonoids and selenium. The bio-active compounds of garlic are formed from allicin when the bulb is chopped or crushed. The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), an ongoing multinational study across 10 countries has shown a positive co-relation between the consumption of garlic and onion and reduced risk of cancer. Studies from the US , China and France have all shown that consumption of garlic is associated with lowered risk of cancer. Garlic is a known anti-bacterial agent with the ability to stop the formation (2) and activation of cancer causing agents. The World Health Organisation recommends at least 2-5 grams or one bulb of garlic daily for adults.
Haldi is one of the most researched herbs for its anti-cancer properties. It is attributed with anti-oxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic values. The principle component of turmeric is curcumin which is a potent antioxidant scavenging free radicals and inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells. Almost 2000 published scientific papers have shown that curcumin has the ability to kill cancer cells while not harming the healthy cells.
Also know as the Indian ginseng, it has been used to help the body deal with stress in Ayurveda. Its anti-cancer value was realized about 40 years ago when researchers isolated a crystalline steroidal compound (withaferin A) from this herb. Further research on these extracts which were taken from the leaf of ashwagandha showed that they were able to kill cancerous cells.
Commonly known as Tulsi in India, this sacred herb is known for its healing powers. It is used for improving immunity and fighting stress. Research has shown that it also possesses anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-diabetic and anti-stress properties. Studies have shown that the phytochemicals present in tulsi prevented chemically induced lung, liver, oral and skin cancers by increasing the antioxidant activity, altering gene expressions, killing cancer cells and preventing the spread of cancer to other cells.
Ginger has a 2000-year long history of medicinal use. The active constituents of ginger have potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and some have exhibited cancer preventive activity in experimental models. Today, there are a number of studies that point towards the cancer preventive effect of ginger. In a study conducted by the University of Michigan, ginger caused ovarian cancer cells to die. Another study, published in Cancer Prevention Research, showed decreased inflammation of the colon.