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Published: Tuesday, July 31, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

'Five to Thrive' teaches simple steps to reduce cancer risk

I was carrying around my summer reading when my daughter asked, "Why are you reading that cancer book?"
After assuring her that I am not sick with cancer, I explained I was reading the book to learn what I could do to prevent myself from getting cancer.
She said, "Don't you already know this? Didn't you take basic biology class?"
Well, it turns out in the dinosaur era when I walked to school and no mom drove their kids anywhere, ever, biology involved frog dissection, sorting out if a couple would produce blue-eyed or brown-eyed children, but nothing about cancer.
My daughter was shocked. I explained we didn't know as much as we do now, and, darling, one day, the researchers will know far more than you can imagine: cloning, stem cells, cyber knife. Don't get me started on how far we have come from eye-color sorting.
And,when I grew up, half the neighborhood did not have cancer.
Of course I was a kid then, and maybe I didn't notice enough, but it seems we are more vulnerable to cancer.
It was a friend recovering from breast cancer who inspired me to learn more about cancer prevention.
She said, "I am begging every person I know to read this book about cancer prevention."
You don't look at your friend fighting for her life and say you are too busy to do one thing, read the book.
The book is "Five to Thrive: Your Cutting-Edge Cancer Prevention Plan" by Lise N. Alschuler and Karolyn Gazella.
It is a slim, easy-to-read, excellent book. I have learned simple steps I can do to lower my cancer risk.
Read everything that follows with lots of forgiveness: I am not a biology major like my daughter. I am not an authority on the subject of cancer. Frog dissection was not helpful.
However, I have learned things that are changing my life, and I encourage you to do the same.
Cancer is inside us all the time. It is opportunistic. If it is given all the right conditions, it will go from being part of our physical body ecosystem to taking over or dominating parts of our bodies
Not every cancer is preventable, but there are things we can do to improve our chances.
I have always understood the stress connection to cancer. This is one I help people with all the time as a therapist. I also am very good at keeping my own stress level very very low.
I know this is hard for people, and I know it puts us at risk for cancer. The book explains the stress relationship to cancer very well.
Since I have been reading the book, I have reduced my sugar intake. This is hard for me. I am diabetic and love sugar.
This book has helped me feel an aversion to sugar for the first time in my life.
I have significantly increased my water consumption. That is not too hard. It is something I would forget to do every single day.
Not any more. I wake up and I start watering myself first thing in the morning.
I have switched a couple of things out of my diet.
Again, nothing big, but the book truly convinced me that some foods were just making it too hard for my body to fight.
It's hard to change our habits, the book "Five to Thrive" convinced me to make a few changes.
Have you seen that guy at the gym who works out daily, but recently had a heart attack?
People say, what good did the gym do him?
The answer is : The heart attack didn't kill him. The workouts may have saved his life.
Health care begins at home.
Sarri Gilman is a freelance writer living on Whidbey Island and director of Leadership Snohomish County. Her column on living with meaning and purpose runs every other Tuesday in The Herald. You can email her at features@heraldnet.com.

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