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MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause


Commit to healthier lifestyle, live longer

by Dawn Brazell
Public Relations
Research continues to confirm that food can kill or heal, yet many health professionals fail to pass that along to their patients.
When asked at a recent lecture at MUSC called “Just Say Whoa! to Cancer” why that is the case, Ann Kulze, M.D., was quick to defend health professionals. She worked as a family physician for 14 years before establishing her wellness consulting firm, Just Wellness, LLC, in 2002. She made the change because she realized she didn’t have the time to do the patient education needed in a 15-minute visit, she said.
Kulze, a motivational speaker devoted to getting people to shift to healthier lifestyle habits, spoke to more than 70 people at Hollings Cancer Center May 5 as part of the Brain Tumor Awareness Week.
“Since the early ’90s, there’s been a virtual avalanche of rock-solid, truly mind-bending data telling us loud and clear that the majority of illness and chronic disease that we experience in America is largely preventable.”
Her goal for the talk: get people to understand and believe the research so they will commit or recommit to the simple strategies shown to combat chronic disease of all kinds, from cancer to cardiovascular diseases.
“If you group all the cancers together, based on the latest estimates, 70 percent of the total could be prevented with the handful of strategies that you will hear today.”
Kulze said something as simple and easy as taking a daily 30-minute walk while keeping body weight at a healthy range can prevent cancer reoccurrence as effectively or more effectively than some of the cancer drugs that are being used. Many people fail to realize that body fat, especially visceral fat, is not a benign ball of fat that just sits there, but rather acts as a substance that can be highly active metabolically, she said.
Flashing up a slide about belly fat, she explained all the bioactive agents and chemicals it secretes and the effects that it can have on the body, driving inflammation and insulin resistance, which is a very bad idea for those who have cancer cells lurking, she said.
Another tip: Get vitamin D levels checked. She said 70 percent of the population is deficient, particularly African-Americans. She recommends 1,000 IU of a vitamin D-3 supplement daily.
“Vitamin D is going to be the medical story of the decade if not the century. For a long time we thought it was vitamin D and bone health. Wrong—it’s everything. It’s cancer protection. It’s being happy. It’s having a brain that works ... It’s having a robust immune system, and it goes on and on.”

Other tips highlighted
  • Maintain an optimal weight. That means a body mass index of less than 25 and waist sizes of less than 32.5 inches for women and 36 for men throughout one’s life. The No. 1 cancer-preventing lifestyle habit a person can have is to be a non-smoker. The very next item on the list to lower cancer risk is to keep weight at healthy levels.
  • Get active. The recommendations are at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity daily, with an optimal of 60 minutes moderate or 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity.
  • Limit consumption of energy dense, processed foods, especially fast foods, sugary beverages and junk foods.
  • Do the carbohydrates right, avoiding what Kulze calls the “great, white hazards” such as white flour products, white rice and sugar. These foods trigger hormonal changes that can promote tumor growth, especially in breast, colon and prostate tissue. They also drive weight gain. The key is to focus on whole grains and beans and legumes.
  • Consume as many fruits and vegetables as possible since more than 200 studies show the anti-cancer power that they pack. The volume of food trumps calories when it comes to satisfying appetite, so fruits and vegetables should be the mainstay of an immune-boosting diet.
  • Do fats right. For example, maximize the consumption of omega-3 fats, especially from oily fish, such as salmon and tuna and minimize the consumption of omega-6 fats, such as sunflower and soybean oil.
  • Spice up food, enjoying curry, ginger, rosemary and garlic regularly. Spices contain very powerful anti-inflammatory phytochemicals.
Kulze’s last slide showed her with her family that includes four children. It can be daunting to establish and stick to healthier lifestyle habits, but the effort is so worth it, she said. “If it’s not enough for you to do it for yourself,” she said, pointing to the picture, “then do it for the people you love.”

For more on Dr. Ann's tips, visit The Hollings Cancer Center’s Integrative Care Center also offers nutritional information. For information about HCC's services, visit

Friday, June 11, 2010

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