Well before 11am, the time the lecture was scheduled to begin, the room at Rufaida Clinic in Sheikh Zayed was packed with women of all ages eager to learn more about the topic most feared--and most misunderstood--in Egypt.
The event titled "the anti-cancer lifestyle" was presented by Dr. Wafaa Abdel-Hadi, clinical oncology specialist at Cairo University and founder of Aware Clinic, which specialises in providing counseling and awareness about cancer.
"I know it is hard work and it is not mainstream thinking in Egypt, but in the end we have to start somewhere, don’t we?
"If it were up to me I would give this lecture to an audience in a football stadium. Cancer is growing in high proportions in this country and real approaches to prevention have to be introduced into society," Dr. Wafaa told Ahram Online prior to the event.
The workshop started by explaining the ways cancer invades the body before Abdel-Hadi advised preventative lifestyle changes for Egyptians.
"Cancer remains the second leading cause of death globally after heart disease. It has soared in the country in recent years. According to data provided by the WHO, 72 thousand lives are claimed annually by cancer in Egypt.
1-The gene issue
Until 2012 it was believed that cancers main cause was genetic. Now it is established that cancer is a metabolic disease, meaning that if a woman carries the gene, she can minimise its risk through diet and lifestyle changes.
Brca gene: women have a 12% chance of having breast cancer throughout their life, but the Brca gene increases this probability to 87%, and 45% for ovarian cancer.
If you have this gene, the right diet and lifestyle changes can reduce it by 33%. Add exercise and the risk can be brought down by 40%.
2-Inflammation is always a culprit
The mother of all problems stems from the occurrence of inflammations, which can affect the cell's mitochondria, initiating most known diseases, including cancer.
Elimination diet is available in Egypt. Know what you are allergic or sensitive to in order to stop inflammation. You do not have to stop everything permanently, as doctors can guide you to gradual inclusion after elimination.
Milk preserved for months is not real milk. Dairy increases mucus, traps bacteria, and preoccupies the immune system with combating them rather that fighting cancer cells.
Increased dairy consumption has been linked to an increase of the insulin hormone which feeds cancer, MS, acne (due to injected hormones), and is the most common allergen in the world. Fermented milk products, however, like cheese and yoghurt can decrease some forms of cancer by 5 to 10 percent.
Your gut is your second brain. Try to aim for healthy products to make up 80% of your diet.
Exercise is one step forward but a poor diet is two steps backwards.
A healthy diet contains mainly organic crops as they are not genetically modified and are free of chemicals. Should products contain meat, opt for organic meat, as it is supposedly free of antibiotics and chemicals.
Organic food is expensive in Egypt, but with increased demand prices will decrease. Try to aim for a diet free of transfats, preservatives, processed meat, and artificial sweeteners. Always read the label.
Eat whole foods and chew well on every single bite. Load your diet with berries, turmeric, broccoli, garlic, avocadoes, wild tomatillos, quinoa, coconut oil, and organic poultry. Increase your intake of alkaline food and many other antioxidising and anti-inflammatory elements
5-Just stop the sugar
The national cancer institute in the US says that it is a myth that cancer feeds on sugar. We strongly disagree. When we want to detect cancer in a body we inject sugar and the cancer cell glows. Of course it is affected by sugar.
Sugar and bread are an addiction. They affect everything and feed the most active cells, which are the cancer cells, while exhausting the pancreas.
Artificial sweeteners are chemicals nevertheless, causing mood swings and other problems, and aspartame was found in many brain tumors.
Each day, your body must consume at least two litres of healthy liquids to create an alkaline medium in your body. These include water, fresh smoothies, fruit juices, and green tea, which is anti inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and helps you lose weight
7-Watch that excessive weight
Obesity is linked to a host of health problems including arthritis, sleep apnea, cancer, hypertension, diabetes, to name a few. Fat cells are transformed to estrogen, and that latter provides 65% of breast cancer growth.
Exercise is one step forward but a poor diet is two steps backwards.
Keeping your weight in check is easier said than done, but many studies have linked obesity with cancer, and fighting it requires shedding those extra kilograms
8-Try to eliminate Gluten
Gluten is one of the elements that causes irritation and inflammation of the gut. The process of its elimination may help ease symptoms of many ailments like arthritis and can fight cancer as well. Gluten is a protein found in many kinds of food, but its main source is wheat.
It simply damages the intestines. Wheat has changed because of genetic modification of crops, and now the body simply does not recognize it and it causes damage. Gluten related diseases include autoimmune diseases, allergic reactions, and gluten sensitivity. It affects your gut, brain, and skin.
9-Check your Vitamin D level
Vitamin D level tests are available now in Egypt, so get checked. This element is very important in fighting cancer, and most patients have recorded low levels of this vitamin in their blood. You can get it from safe exposure to the sun, or through a supplement if recommended by a physician.
10-Give detox a chance every now and then
Toxins enter your body in a number of ways no matter how hard you try to stick to a healthy diet. No one can guarantee organic food all the time and we are surrounded with pollutants-- especially in Egypt.
The main job of our immune system is to target cancerous cells and eliminate them early on, but with chemicals and toxins bombarding the body, from the artificial lawn our kids play on to the deodorants we use on our bodies, our immune system is busy dealing with them instead and cancer cells get a head start.
Exercising is a way of flushing out toxins from the body, as is fasting, but trying a detox diet every now and then is always a good idea.
11-Don't let stress have the upper hand
Although we cannot really eliminate stress, we can always try to manage it. Learn to say "no" and delegate tasks to others.
Remember that when you are stressed for one minute, your immune system is affected for six hours. Give yourself "me" time.
Remember the saying "never wake a sleeping baby." This applies to everybody. Your body uses sleeping hours to regenerate, heal, flush toxins, and repair new cells.
Sleep early to give melatonin a better shot at benefiting your body. Women who take night shifts have higher probability of having breast cancer.
13-Just don’t smoke
Smoking affects those around you more than it affects yourself. Cancer is highly linked to smoking, and we are talking about both cigarettes and sheesha.
14-Move your body
Exercise had been proven to reduce cancer risk significantly. You don’t have to do extreme effort, but even walking for 30 min three times week will do.
Cancer hates two things; alkaline medium, and oxygen. Meditation not only clears the mind and reduces stress hormones, but also provides your body with oxygen for a time long enough to kill cancer cells. Count to four seconds inhaling, and keep it inside your chest for seven, then count to eight while exhaling. Do it four times in the evening and four times in the morning. Meditation and praying gives the body time to repair what is damaged.