Posts Tagged ‘Less Cancer’


Posted on April 26, 2010 - by

What Came First: The Chicken or the Cancer?

By Guest Blogger Bill Couzens, Founder Less Cancer

The advertising, publicity, and public reaction surrounding the Kentucky Fried Chicken “Buckets for the Cure” campaign to benefit Susan G. Komen For the Cure is immense – even though the two organizations seem like an unlikely match. And while I am eager to see a cure for cancer, I am more interested in seeing cancer stopped at the cause. I am interested in seeing us not only win the battles, but the war. Winning the war translates into not just more cases of cured cancer, but Less Cancer all together – stopping cancer at the root. We need to be taking a new look at the way we work to stop cancer before it even becomes cancer.

Despite Richard Nixon’s efforts in 1971 to launch the War on Cancer, the problem has not been solved and in fact has multiplied. Nearly a lifetime and countless billions later, identifying and treating cancer has become its own economy. While I am grateful that so many researchers are looking for the cure, we are living in a time of unprecedented increases in the number of friends and family battling cancer or dealing with the issues that cancer survivorship brings.

Michale Pollan in his book Food Rules An Eaters Manual (Penguin) says, “If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t. It’s not food if it’s served through the window of your car. It’s not food if it’s called by the same name in every language.” Think Big Mac, Cheetos or Pringles.

While there is no evidence to say chicken causes cancer – we do know that some fast/processed foods can contribute to illnesses such as obesity. During the last two decades, the percentages of obese adults and children have been steadily increasing and, in turn, increased the risk for health effected outcomes including coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Obesity also increases the risk of cancers of the breast, Endometrium (the lining of the uterus), colon, kidney, and esophagus (NCI).

We live in a time when cancer has become so commonplace that the news of new cases seems almost expected. Everyone I know is involved with a walk, a run, or a ride to support cancer research. We as a culture are working every day to find new ways to fund big dollar cures and cancer treatments. While I applaud those efforts, and would have done anything to see my sister and mother cured, the larger issue is that little if anything is being done in the area of cancer prevention.

Recently at a bank drive-thru window I was offered the opportunity to buy a candy bar with the profits going toward a cancer cure. David Servan-Schreiber, MD, Ph.D, author of Anticancer: A New Way of Life is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and co-founder of the Center for Integrative Medicine. Dr. Servan-Screiber’s book discusses concerns about sugar as a food that feeds cancer. So why are we selling candy bars to fund the cancer cure? It doesn’t make sense. We as a society can’t seem to move away from the “break and fix” model of health care.

We are willing to race for a cure, but are not willing to work diligently to eliminate or reduce the exposures that cause it.
The problem isn’t just the fast foods we are consuming in record quantities, but the grocery choices we make in the store when shopping for our families.

Dr. Maryann Donovan, Director the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cancer Institute (CEO-UPCI) says that “consumers do need to become more selective when shopping for all products but especially food. Scientists at the CEO-UPCI have measured contaminants in canned food at levels that can cause biological effects in laboratory studies. There are a number of published studies showing that some ingredients in products that we use in our homes, schools and communities are toxic and some have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory studies. Examples of possible food contaminants can include pesticide residues or bisphenol A. (BPA), a component of the resin that lines some cans and can leach into food.”

Food choice presents an opportunity to make change and begin the process of providing healthy choices for your family, but especially for young children.

It is important to protect children. By making better food choices we can reduce their exposure to a host of unhealthy ingredients and contaminants. It is important to remember that children are not small adults, rather they are a developing version of an adult. Simply put, children are under construction. They are unfinished and their developing systems are quite fragile. We know, for instance, that in children the brain continues to develop into their twenties, and this makes their brains potentially more vulnerable to toxins. They also breathe much more rapidly, so they take in more toxins through their lungs. For children, depending on the exposure, some of the first body systems to show negative health effects can be their neurological and respiratory systems.

Our society has lost its grip on the problem because of greed and a general malaise and acceptance of cancer as a fact of life. Real progress will only happen when we address issues in behavior and choices. For example, there are foods that are not only not nutritious, but in some cases toxic. So when do we get the back bone to push back, make the tough choices, and do what is right – and not only what is profitable?

According to a Scientific American article (2-17-2010), about 133 million Americans have one or more so-called chronic conditions, which can include obesity and diabetes. According to a House bill introduced in July 2009 and currently in committee, there is a need to increase overall federal funding for health care. Wayne Giles, director of the CDC’s Division of Adult and Community Health, notes that some 75 percent of U.S. health care spending goes toward “treating patients with chronic disease.” As the authors of the bill hasten to point out, “The vast majority of these diseases are preventable.” These conditions also account for about 70 percent of deaths in the U.S.

It’s going to take more than branding a bucket of chicken with a pink ribbon to beat cancer. We’re in a war, and we need to do more than dress up the potential enemy.

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Posted on January 26, 2010 - by

Café Boulud – Palm Beach

Guest Blogger: Bill Couzens, Founder of LessCancer.org

lobsterCafé Boulud – Palm Beach opened its doors in 2003.  Its location in the historic Brazilian Court, a 1920’s Spanish styled Palm Beach landmark turned luxury boutique hotel, is in the heart of Palm Beach and moments away from the famed Worth Avenue. Café Boulud’s cuisine is not unlike its New York City sister restaurant Café Boulud NEW YORK where classic French dishes are prepared with ingredients sourced from the seasonal specialties available at local markets.

Chef-Owner Daniel Boulud is a seasoned restaurateur with five restaurants; one in New York City, one in Palm Beach, FL and three abroad with plans to open additional locations in Miami, London and Singapore in the coming year. Chef Boulud is also an accomplished author having published several books, including Cooking with Daniel Boulud (1993), Daniel Boulud’s Café Boulud Cookbook (1999), Daniel Boulud Cooking in New York City (2002),Daniel’s Dish, Entertaining at Home with a Four Star Chef (2003), Letters to a Young Chef (2003), Braise: a Journey Through International Cuisine (2006).

Boulud credits much of his restaurants’ success to his world–class team. One such invaluable team member is Chef Zach Bell, Executive Chef of Cafe Boulud-Palm Beach, recognized by StarChefs in 2008 as a Rising Star Chef and twice nominated for “Best Chef: South” by the James Beard Foundation.

Chef Bell makes it a practice to visit local farms and markets to personally inspect the local foods the restaurant will be serving. Local vendors Chef Bell shops with include:

Deep Creek Ranch for beef and lamb as they do not use hormones or other growth stimulants or routine antibiotic treatment.

Wild Ocean Seafood Market providing some of freshest local seafood.

Green Cay Produce CSA in Palm Beach County and as well as Swank Produce for hydro-natural lettuces, greens, micro greens tomatoes, beans, baby beats and carrots. According to their website, Swank Produce does not use fungicides, herbicides, or pesticides. This is important re the unintended consequences of pesticides that can cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment.

Erickson Farm
The Erickson family manages the tropical fruit, spice and vegetable farm. Mangoes are their specialty and they are grown with the philosophy that includes alternative practices instead of the use of pesticides and herbicides by using the effective organic solutions available and implementing cultivation techniques that aid in pest and weed control when possible.

longplateIn addition to making every effort to shop local, organic ingredients, Chef Zach has a house rule of no corn syrup in any ingredient – including the ketchup – and so the restaurant no longer uses purchased ketchup but rather cooks its own from scratch.

Most notably Chef Bell and Café Boulud have joined in the supporting The Glades to Coast Convivium, a chapter of the slow food movement that includes Broward and Southern Palm Beach Counties. Slow Food is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.

Palm Beach and the surrounding counties are mostly noted for the production of tomatoes, peppers, beans, corn, cucumbers and squash–though it is often difficult for consumers to find local produce for sale in neighborhood supermarkets which rely on larger farms that ship produce nationwide. However, large increases in the population during the winter months coincide with the growing season, opening possibilities for local marketing of produce. Every Saturday the Palm Beach farmer’s market promotes locally-grown fresh fruits, just-picked vegetables, fresh seafood, meats and poultry, dairy products, specialty teas and coffees, fresh-cut local and imported flowers, specialty foods, foods to go, pies, and breads.

“Beyond the obvious benefits in freshness, quality, and flavor, eating seasonally and sourcing food locally can be make  important contributions to reducing carbon emissions. The local farms that are additionally certified organic and the markets that sell organic foods also have great potential for reducing exposures to pesticides and other chemicals, benefiting both  the environment and  human health” according to Dr. Maryann Donovan, Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Devotees of Daniel Boulud will not only find comfort in Cafe Boulud’s exquisite fare and quality but they will discover that standards for buying local, organic and eliminating corn syrup from the restaurant is one best practice in working towards healthy people and healthy communities.

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Posted on January 13, 2010 - by

Mie N Yu: Georgetown Eatery Focuses on Local and Sustainable Food

Bill Couzens HeadshotBy Bill Couzens, Founder of Less Cancer

Mie N Yu
3125 M Street, NW
Historic Georgetown, in Washington DC

This Georgetown restaurant’s culinary and service team pride themselves on the fact that they are serving “the highest quality products to their guests.”

Mie N Yu’s Chef Tim Miller and General Manager Oren Molovinsky have personally visited all of the farms that the restaurant’s wonderful products are sourced from. “I’m always surprised by the incredible advantage in flavor and texture that local products have, for example, it’s very important that our meat products have never been injected with hormones or antibiotics from birth…” explains General Manager, Oren Molovinsky.

In addition to his role as General Manager for Mie N Yu, Oren and his business partner Jack Boyle have set up a Farm to Table Partnership involving twenty local Virginia Farmers and participating restaurants to supply chefs with whole animals. He also makes it a practice to visit the farmers that supply the restaurant.

Mie N Yu has sourced close to a dozen local farms, sourcing everything from lettuce to lamb. Examples of the Virginia Farms that supply Mie N Yu include: Whitewood Farm; The Plains Virginia for Black Angus Beef; Oak Spring Dairy; Upperville Virginia-Raw Milk Artisan Cheeses; and Cannon Hill Farm, Mount Jackson, Virgina for Certified Organic Belted Galloway Hereford and Angus Beef.

There are many benefits to buying locally. Oren can frequently visit the farms to ensure that the restaurant will receive the best quality meats, produce, cheeses and eggs. Because of the relationship that he builds with each farmer, Oren is able to develop a partnership to reinforce with the farmer the importance of continuous improvement of best practices for natural or organic farming and attention to animal husbandry and environmental stewardship.

All of the farms are at most located within a 5-6 hour drive of the restaurant. Several are Certified Organic and/or Certified Humane. In addition, the Farm to Table DC program has added the additional requirement that farms be family owned, excluding mass production farms. Importantly as a healthy choice- the criteria stipulates that the foods by hormone, antibiotics, and medication free and the preference is that animals be fed non- GMO food.

The establishment of rigorous criteria for food sourcing can be especially important for reducing unnecessary and preventable exposures to chemicals and pesticides, some of which have been shown to have biological effects in laboratory studies and have been identified as contaminants in humans by researchers as well as in studies of body burden levels of contaminants that are being conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention according to Dr. Maryann Donovan, Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Mie N Yu is aware that as consumers become more conscious about the environmental and human health impact of their purchases, restaurants are also becoming more aware of what it takes to bring food from the farm to the table. Working with local farmers means fewer miles to the table, which reduces carbon-emissions and fuel usage by restaurants.

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Posted on November 17, 2009 - by

You Are What You Eat!

LessCancer

Bill Couzens HeadshotBy: Bill Couzens
Bill Couzens is the Founder of Less Cancer

In the work to raise awareness for unnecessary and preventable exposures that may contribute to health effects including cancer, food should be considered.  Consumers must move away from the practice of pulling foods off the shelf with little knowledge of what they and their families eating.

Scientists have documented many examples of environmental exposures that are known to increase cancer risk include: smoking, UV light, asbestos, some pesticides, hormones, metals, vinyl chloride, gasoline, and small particulates from automobile and coal-fired power plants, to name a few.

What about contaminants in food?

Dr Maryann Donovan from the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cancer Institute (CEO-UPCI) says that  “consumers do need to become more selective when shopping for all products but especially food.  Scientists at the CEO-UPCI have measured contaminants in canned food at levels that can cause biological effects in laboratory studies. There are a number of published studies showing that some ingredients in products that we use in our homes, schools and communities are toxic and some have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory studies. Examples of possible food contaminants can include pesticide residues or bisphenol A. (BPA), a component of the resin that lines some cans and can leach into food”.

BPA, for instance, can be found in many of the canned foods sold in the United States. The Environmental Working Group tested 97 canned foods and found detectable levels of BPA in more than half of them.  The highest concentrations were in canned meats, pasta and soups.  Although there is no evidence that the levels of BPA in canned food cause health effects in humans, BPA is one of many chemicals in the environment that acts like the hormone estrogen.  Because low levels of hormones can have profound effects, exposure to hormone-like chemicals, known as endocrine disruptors, is especially concerning.  Pregnant women and children may want to limit their consumption of canned foods to avoid this source of BPA exposure.

It is important to protect children.  By making better food choices we can reduce their exposure to a host of unhealthy ingredients and contaminants. It is important to remember that children are not small adults, rather, they are a developing version of an adult. Simply put, children are under construction. They are unfinished and their developing systems are quite fragile.   We know, for instance, that in children the brain continues to develop into their twenties, and this makes their brains potentially more vulnerable to toxicants. They also breathe much more rapidly, so they take in more toxins through their lungs.  For children, depending on the exposure, some of the first body systems to show negative health effects can be their neurological and respiratory systems.

Food choice presents an opportunity to make change and begin the process of providing healthy choices for your family, but especially for young children. One easy first step is to seek out your local farmers market so that you can buy fresh food that is minimally processed. For myself and my family I always buy local first and, when available, I buy certified organic. I do this because I want to reduce the unnecessary and preventable exposures to unhealthy ingredients like sugars, fats, preservatives; contaminants in canned food;  genetically modified (GM) foods; and foods containing antibiotic and pesticide residues. While farmers markets can be a safe alternative for tracking down healthier foods, shopping there can also be a fun family adventure!

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