Women's Health Forum highlights nutrition as cancer preventive

Orthopedist says cancer-prevention diet is also best for heart, staving off osteoporosis

Posted: Sunday, October 24, 2004

After Tish Griffin-Satre was diagnosed with cancer for the third time, she recalled Saturday at the Women's Health Forum, it was a "wake up moment" that she needed to change her lifestyle.

"I tried to take control of what I could control," Griffin-Satre told about 350 women assembled at Centennial Hall for the fourth annual forum.

Griffin-Satre lost 100 pounds, meditated, prayed, drank plenty of water, worked less, went fishing, and got married. And she ate differently.

"I take my vitamins, and dark-colored vegetables have become my friends," she said.

The health forum was about how to use nutrition to prevent and survive cancer and osteoporosis, a bone disease. It was sponsored by the Cancer Connection, a local nonprofit that provides information, support groups and travel assistance for patients and their families.

Diana Dyer, a Michigan dietitian and a survivor of multiple cancers, said 1,500 Americans die every day from cancer. One in three women and one in two men will be diagnosed with cancer.

But up to 70 percent of cancer cases are preventable with the proper nutrition, exercise and weight control, she said. And about 9.6 million Americans alive today have survived cancer.

Dyer said she was diagnosed at 6 months with a type of cancer called neuroblastoma, for which she was successfully treated. When she was 34, and again 10 years later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The body goes cold when it hears the diagnosis, she said.

"When you hear that word, 'cancer,' you hear nothing else for a while," Dyer said.

Her cancers were treated, but she didn't have peace.

"Logic told me my old ways of doing things, coping, living, weren't enough to prevent this from happening again and again," Dyer said.

Her goals were to directly change her body's biochemistry to reduce the risk of cancer recurring, and to indirectly change her body's biochemistry by rebuilding her life spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

She knew she had to eat mindfully. Most of what you eat should be vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grain, she advised.

"Plants have the ability to optimize our health," said Dyer, the author of "A Dietitian's Cancer Story." Some of her suggested meals are at www.CancerRD.com.

Dr. Jon Reiswig, an orthopedic surgeon in Juneau who spoke about osteoporosis, said he wished all of his patients could have heard Dyer's talk.

"I agree with her that the diet for cancer (prevention) is the best diet for your heart and the best diet for your overall health, including your bones," he said.

Tiffany Andres, a dietitian at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, was busy at the forum blending "supersoy and phytochemical" smoothies from a Dyer recipe.

The recipe calls for soft tofu, carrots, fruit, wheat germ, wheat or oat bran, flaxseed, soymilk and orange juice.

The nutrients from plants fight cancer, and the phytoestrogens in soy, fruits and vegetables help regulate hormones, Andres said. The drink also is high in fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol and modulate blood sugar levels, she said. The flax is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may protect against heart disease and cancer.

"And it tastes good, too," Andres told women lined up for a taste.

Attendees at the free event were served Alaska salmon chowder, broccoli and garbanzo bean salad, multigrain bread from the Silverbow, and chocolate tofu mousse - the latter of which even a teenager said was OK, claimed Linda Wild, a dietitian at Bartlett Regional Hospital.

Food is much more than food, Wild asked the women to remember as she ticked off the health benefits of their meal.

• Eric Fry can be reached at eric.fry@juneauempire.com.

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