Cancer Patients Need Proper Diet and Exercise (cont.)

Moderator: Do you think hormone replacement therapy (HRT) played a big role?

Hendel: I have to be quite honest and say that I'm very bothered in which her therapy played out. My mom went through menopause in her late 40s, and I do recall that she suffered on and off from hot flashes, but she ultimately came through and was being pretty good about her calcium. There wasn't a strong family of heart disease in my family, so it was by surprise that she was on HRT. And had she consulted with me, I wouldn't have suggested it to her. I do believe heart disease is the #1 killer in women, and that's why we use HRT, but that not information is getting out about lifestyle changes. I try to work hard with people, and if they are going through menopausal symptoms and they can't stand it, I will say "fine, go on a short course of HRT to get through these bothersome side effects of menopause," but once they're through, I feel that we owe our patients a heavy introduction to the lifestyle choices they can be taking so ... In my mom's case, I wish we had talked about it more. I'll always be bothered by the fact that there were other choices out there for her.

Moderator: What types of exercise do you recommend for patients at various stages of their treatment?

Hendel: First of all, I think it's really important to take note of Lance Armstrong. He's a walking testimonial to the dedication of somebody through exercise, and the role it plays in helping someone through a dreaded disease like cancer. He entered his stage of cancer being in extremely good health; he exercised daily, ate fantastically in healthy choices, but I'm definitely convinced that he came out of it because of the role that exercise as well as nutrition played in his life. I think it helped him to have this goal to work towards, and even an average individual if they can say "just ten minutes of walking today," it gives them a short term physical goal to work towards to get them in a mindset to put aside the unhealthy aspect of cancer. I'm very compelled by many of the mind/body exercises out there, like yoga, which is an incredible resource of exercise to help an individual through exercise, and I think that's because of the breathing techniques and posture that's involved. The movement and meditation help the person get in touch with their inner spirit, and if you're as battling as serious an illness as cancer, yoga can really help. The relaxation aspects of it helps an individual to calm inner feelings they're having. I would call yoga a complementary therapy, and I think it improves your feeling of well-being, but it's not a singular treatment for the disease. I'd use them as one of many pieces of pie to combat the illness. Another form of exercise I like is tai-chi, and a mind/body experience that I think is good to deal with. I think going for massages, meditation, acupuncture, are all great addendums to help you cope with this disease.

I know that in working with patients personally, that if they can maintain a percentage of their regular exercise schedule during the course of treatment, it helps them focus on something else than the breaking down of their bodies. Keeping a certain percent of muscle will help with your system, and not only the mind body exercises, but even the actual weight-training exercises is beneficial to someone who can manage it. If you're extremely debilitated, you shouldn't engage in it, but if it's a regimen that you've embraced, you should try to keep it going even through the treatment. If you haven't embraced it yet, get a buddy and have someone mentor you through the exercise experience as you're dealing with cancer.

There's even one less well known form of Oriental exercise called Qi Gong, and it involves movement, meditation, and you're trying to strengthen the body's energy. It derives from martial arts, but it's a very slow and intense type of exercise, and you're being forced to focus in on the internal reservoirs you have, and I think it'd be a very beneficial group of all the exercises, to be beneficial to somebody who's even doing standard exercising.

Moderator: What types of foods are best for cancer patients?

Hendel: Let's talk about some of the foods out there that will specifically help, and I like to turn to cereal. I think it's somewhat of a comfort food. If you choose a high fiber cereal, I think it'll cleanse your system and help you potentiate your energy sources, and there are particular ones I like to recommend -- Kellogs All Bran, All Bran Extra Fiber, Brand Buds, Raisin Bran, and even though Raisin Bran has a somewhat high sugar content, it's balanced out by its fiber content. Cancer patients sometimes gets a craving for sugar. Once again, I like cereals a lot, and they go down easy, especially if you use soy milk. In terms of other foods, I think you can get fiber and plant nutrition through soups, so I like low-sodium, organic soups like Health Valley, which puts out dozens which are high in fiber with protein content, and you want to maintain muscle mass which is important for fighting the debilitating effects of cancer, so a high protein minestrone or bean soup is a great way to go, and they go down easy and light. If you're undergoing radiation or chemotherapy, you need foods that don't go down too heavy, because you're battling nausea.

And if we can talk about phytochemicals, and these are named carotenoids, isoflavins, and they seem to have tremendous potential for anti-cancer. I like to go through a couple of them, so people know what they're getting from what foods. Flavinoids are the number one; it is believed to be one that protects against cancer, and you can find it in citrus fruits, apples, onions, green tea, and wine. Another one is Genistein, and we believe that one blocks the formation of new blood vessels, so you can cut off the blood supply to a tumor, and it's in soy beans and tofu. Another group are the Indoles, and we believe that they stimulate the production of anticarcinogenic enzymes, and may protect against breast cancer. The foods you find in that are broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and other members of the cabbage family. The Isoflavins, which are very popular, seem to inhibit estrogen production, and once again we're back to soy beans and soy products. And polyphenols are ones we find in green tea and do believe it has an antioxidant effect. Other foods in general that you want to embrace are brussels sprouts, kale, scallions, garlic... mostly what you want to see is a broad variety of different colored plans and fruits. If you're choosing your proteins, try not to go heavy on the animal foods, but use beans or egg whites, fish. These are the foods you want to try to eat in larger amounts, so it gives you a broad choices and one can say this is such a bland diet. But these are foods that if you go into the supermarket, there are so many choices and you can buy organic versus regular. So one can't say that you'll suffer too much if you can't have certain foods.