Q & A #2: 16 Food Items and their Link

Following our recent Q&A with nutritionist Diane Nicolas (read our previous Q&A with her here), we had another important question – or shall we say several mini-questions – to ask her.

We’ve all heard the rumors that soy sauce may be linked to cancer.. Are they true? Find out more below. Image Source: People’s Pharmacy

Question: Some studies (not fully proven) have stated that certain foods play a role in raising the risk of developing cancer. Please let us know if the below food items are in fact linked or not: 

(Yes = Linked, No = Not Linked)

Diane’s Answers: 

1. Sugar: No, but gaining weight is linked to breast cancer.

2. Red Meat/Processed Meat (such as hot dogs and bacon): Yes, it contains food    additives harmful to the body.

3. Vitamin D: No

4. Acidic Foods: No

5. Soy Sauce: In moderation, no.

6. Drinking from Plastic Bottles: If it’s a single use then no but if it’s repetitive then yes. We should not use the same bottle more than once.

7. Soda: If its only 1 can per day, then no.

8. Caffeine – Coffee, Tea and Chocolate: No, but of course we should eat chocolate in moderation because gaining weight can cause breast cancer.

9. Milk and Dairy Products: No, they are good. Even breast-feeding can decrease the risk of certain cancers for the baby when it grows up.

10. Alcohol (except Red Wine): In moderation it doesn’t cause breast cancer. Even red wine if you exceed in drinking it can be harmful. In general red wine is better than any other alcohol because it contains resveratrol which is an antioxidant that fights free radicals in our body . However, some studies (not fully proven) claim that red wine has no advantage on other alcohols.

11. Hydrogenated Oils/ Trans-Fat (in French fries for example): Yes, of course. If once a week it wouldn’t be harmful eating a very small amount of French fries (like 10 pieces), but it shouldn’t be consumed daily. Same thing goes on everything fried.

12. Doughnuts & Cookies: Yes, if abused due to the hydrogenated fat in them.

13. Avocados & Grapefruits: No, in fact they have a beneficial effect.

14. Salt: We must limit our consumption of salt for other reasons, such as hypertension, and sometimes during the breast cancer treatment it should be even less consumed, or stopped depending on the dose of the cortisone that the patient is taking during his/her treatment.

15. Salad Dressings: No, but we should always be careful about gaining weight and we should check for the source of the oil in it.

16. Skin from Poultry and Fish: As the skin from poultry contains fat, then yes, it is better to avoid it. But on the other hand, fish skin is very important because it contains Omega 3 which is very healthy so of course it is completely fine to eat it.

The consumption of over-fried (burnt) foods or any other foods that contain harmful additives should really be avoided.

They might look tasty, but you’ll regret it later on. Avoid fried foods! Image Source: cdtbk

On the other hand, the following are some healthy foods that may play a role in helping you reduce your risk of breast cancer:

  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli and Cruciferous Vegetables
  • Cranberries
  • Flaxseed
  • Squash
  • Beans
  • Berries
  • Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Garlic
  • Grapes and Grape Juice
  • Green Tea
  • Soy beans
  • Soy milk
  • Tomatoes
  • Whole Grains

Image Source: My Recipes

The Mediterranean diet contains all the foods mentioned above, so for example fattoush, makhlouta, spinach and rice, and stuffed vine leaves are all great recipes for your health.

To get in touch with Diane Nicolas for an appointment or other questions, feel free to email her on:  diane.nicolas@live.com

Interview | Author of “عندما مرضت صديقتي”

We did a small interview with children’s book author, Samar Mahfouz Barraj, regarding the recently launched “عندما مرضت صديقتي” to get some insight on what it was like from her perspective to write about cancer for such a young audience.

Children’s book author Samar Mahfouz Barraj

من أين استوحيت فكرة كتابعندما مرضت صديقتي؟  

كوني كاتبة كتب أطفال طُلب منّي كتابة نصّ بشكل قصّة يتناول مرض السّرطان لدى الأطفال لينشر في مجلّة كان من المفترض إصدارها، تباع للأطفال في المدارس وغيرها ويعود ريعها لمرضى السّرطان،عندها قمت بكتابة النّصّعندما مرضت صديقتي” . لم تصدر المجلّة. عندما طلبت منّي دار يوكي برس كتابة نصّ عن سّرطان الأطفال عرضت عليهم  النّص فأعجبهم

ما الذي دفعك  تعالجي موضوع مرض السرطان في هذا الكتاب؟ هل واجهتي صعوبة لإصال الفكرة للشباب؟

لم يكن من السّهل الكتابة عن هذا الموضوع خاصّة أنّ النّصّ موجّه للأطفال وليس للكبار، لذلك كتبت النّص على لسان قتاة صغيرة تخبر عن صديقتها التي أصيبت بالمرض منذ اكتشاف المرض ،مروراً بمراحل العلاج ووصولاإلى الشّفاء . جاء النّصّ بسيطاً فيه سجع ليخفّف من صعوبة الموضوع وجديّته ويجعل النّص أقرب من الطّفل

The interview was conducted in Arabic but feel free to contact us at onewigstand@gmail.com for an English translation.

(Translation of questions by Joanna-Maria Ghawi)

Children’s Book | عندما مرضت صديقتي

An optimistic children's book about cancer, as told through the perspective of a child. Target age for reader: 5-7 years old.

“What do say to a child suffering from cancer? How do you explain the illness to her friends? Where do you find the strength to tackle such a difficult subject?” are a few of the questions the newly released children’s book by Yuki Press Publishers entitled “عندما مرضت صديقتي” (Translation: “When My Friend Got Sick”) goes over. Sensitively-written in optimistic Arabic rhymes by children’s book author Samar Mahfouz Barraj with dynamic illustrations by Sinan Hallak, this book defuses the fear of cancer in the eyes of its young reader and highlights the ways in which to deal with it.

Illustrator Sinan Hallak (left) with the author Samar Mahfouz Barraj (right) at yesterday's book signing

We had the chance to catch the book-signing of this interesting storybook at the Beirut Arab International Book Fair at Biel last night where both the author and illustrator were present, signing books left and right. Prior to last night, we’d only heard of one other Arabic children’s book touching on this topic (click here to read about it) so it was nice to see others taking on the challenge of addressing these important issues in a child-friendly manner. As an added incentive to grab a copy of this book, percentage of all book sales will be donated to the Children’s Cancer Center who’s work in this field is invaluable.

In the next few days, Yuki Press Publishers in coordination with Iqra’ Association will be holding workshops targeting elementary school students with activities structured around “عندما مرضت صديقتي”. The workshops will be taking place on Dec. 12, 13 and 14 from 10am – 12pm each day at the Lecture Hall of the Beirut Arab International Book Fair in BIEL.

Chosen as the winner of "Best Children's Book" for 2011 by the Beirut Arab International Book Fair

Read an interview with the author here and see photos from the children’s educational workshop here.

Get on Letterman? Done!

After hearing about stand-up comedian’s, Steve Mazan’s, story of full-filling his lifetime dream of getting on The Late Show with David Letterman after being diagnosed with cancer, we seized the chance to talk to him more. Whoever said there are no positives about cancer was obviously not dreaming large enough!

1. Tell us a bit about you. What was life like before cancer?

My name is Steve Mazan and I’m a full time stand-up comedian. I travel the country and the world making strangers laugh. I was born in Chicago, started comedy in San Francisco, and live in Los Angeles. I was doing comedy for 6 years when i got diagnosed with cancer in 2006. I had cancer in my intestines that was removed through surgery. Unfortunately the cancer had already spread tumors to my liver. There is no cure or treatment for those tumors at this time, and upon diagnosis I was given a worst-case scenario of five years to live. That was 6 years ago.

2. What was your first reaction upon hearing you were diagnosed with cancer?

I felt like I was living a dream. I can’t even say nightmare, because it didn’t feel awful at first. Just not real. It felt surreal.

The reality crept up on me, and my wife after a bit of time. We’d just have moments where the weight of it all hit us. Then there was a lot of crying and being scared. But surprisingly soon, maybe a couple weeks later, the magic of life happened: It kept going on. Everything around me kept going forward. As bad as I felt, life went on.

That allowed me to move on too. I started to look at what I wanted to make sure happened if that that 5 year worst case scenario was true. For me it was making sure my life long goal of performing on David Letterman’s show came true.

3. What was that push that led you to pursue your dream of performing comedy on the Late Show with David Letterman?

David Letterman had been a hero of mine since I was kid and was introduced to his old NBC show. He had the best comics on his show. He made me want to be a comic and perform on his show.

When Dave moved to CBS and an earlier timeslot, his show replaced Johnny Carson as the pinnacle of stand-up comedy on TV. Only the best of the best get to be on his show.

4. How did it feel when you finally made it on the show?

Undescribable. Most of the time life does not measure up to your dreams. And when dreams come true, they are seldom as good as you imagined them. Getting on Letterman blew every expectation I had out of the water. It was even better than I had dreamed.

5. How have the public, and other cancer patients, reacted to your documentary film “Dying to do Letterman“?

It’s strange when someone learns you have cancer. A lot of people don’t know how to act. i don’t think there is any right way. It’s natural to feel sorry for someone and at the same time most patients don’t want pity. Both are natural feelings.

Plus, being in the entertainment industry I was actually told not to share my diagnosis because people might not want to invest money and time on someone who might not be around long-term. Again, all understandable at some level, but definitely fear based.

But the project of “Dying to Do Letetrman” has been received by cancer patients and non-patients just as well. We first screened the movie for a cancer group and got an incredible response. But we were even more surprised that that reaction was replicated from a general audience soon after.

6. Do you use cancer as a subject in your routines? If so, how do you approach it and what are the no-nos for joking about cancer?

I actually don’t joke too much about cancer in my act. Most people coming to see me don’t know about my diagnosis. Sharing that with them onstage would change their natural reaction to my act. I’d be worried that I’d be getting sympathy laughs.

However if I’m doing a show for people who have seen my movie or know my diagnosis (like a cancer group or benefit) I do some relatively dark material about it. Cancer groups love it because they have learned to survive by laughing at everything. It’s usually people who aren’t affected by cancer personally that take any offense.

7. Share with us one of your most popular cancer jokes:

Me and my wife’s favorite is “I used to think I never wanted to get married. I could never imagine spending my whole life with just one person…but if that’s only a couple more years…”

8. Have you completed all the items on your list? Are there other dreams you’re currently pursuing that you’d like to share?

I completed my biggest goal.Letterman. I still want to have kids. And now I want a billion people to see our documentary “Dying To Do Letterman.” Every person who has seen it has said they’ve been inspired to chase their own dreams harder. I think the world would be better if more people did that. So I’d like to help.

9. What do you recommend for others coping with cancer?

It’s not how much time you have, it’s what you do with it.

10. And finally, would you consider perfoming in Lebanon, or somewhere in the Middle East?

YES!!! I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan and would love to add Lebanon to the resume!

Thank you Steve for taking the time to chat with us. Keep fulfilling your dreams and inspiring others as you have us. We really hope you get a chance to perform in Lebanon too. I think you’ll have some new fans here very soon 🙂


Show your support for Steve and what he’s doing by signing up for his newsletter here. If you need more convincing, watch this video.

PS: We absolutely love this album of “Dying to..” tags inspired by the film.