One of the top news stories today is the study that found that aspirin may very well reduce cancer-related deaths. This news is remarkable and incredibly hopeful, particularly to me, the daughter of two cancer survivors. It often seems, despite the years of research and the gazillions of dollars raised to fight cancers, that we'll never make any real headway against this family of diseases that affects so many of us.
But is taking aspirin every day for decades the answer? There are surely potential side effects, such as hemorrhagic strokes and gastrointestinal bleeding. Perhaps we can find an alternative, something that — like aspirin — fights the inflammation that apparently fuels the growth of tumors.
We do have an alternative. We can eat anti-inflammatory foods. Dr. Andrew Weil, the Harvard-educated M.D. who is a leader in the world of integrative medicine, developed an "Anti-Inflammatory Diet." The basics of this plan (it’s not really a diet in the sense of quick weight loss) are: consume more omega-3 fats and fewer omega-6 fats; consume less bread, crackers and sweet drinks and eat more whole grains, beans, fruits and veggies; and eat less meat and poultry and more vegetable proteins. Basically, you should eat a balanced diet, loaded with whole, unprocessed foods.
It’s really nothing so earth-shattering, and it certainly isn‘t just Dr. Weil who promotes this lifestyle. But most of us aren’t eating this way. Perhaps, if we did, we could better avoid cancers and the temptation to pop a daily aspirin. And, let's face it: preventing future diseases by eating well means no nasty side effects.