Are you aware of the cancer risk factors in your trade?
Avoiding tobacco or wearing sunscreen sounds manageable at work.
But what about eating a nutritious diet or steering away from carcinogens? That can be more challenging. You may have limited time to cook healthy foods or take lunch breaks. And although you wear protective equipment and follow safety precautions, you might still operate in dangerous situations.
So, can you support your health while doing your job?
Let’s dive in.
Trades and cancer: Is there a link?
Cancer risk factors include exposure to common conditions and materials in the trade industry, such as UV radiation, heavy metals, chemicals, dust, and diesel engine exhaust. Think of those long hours in the sun, the fibres in construction and renovations, welding fumes, paint chemicals, equipment exhaust, and more.
In fact, Cancer Care Ontario’s report states, “occupational exposures are responsible for approximately two to 10 percent of all newly diagnosed cancer cases, based on studies conducted in the UK, Finland, Australia, US, and globally.”
In Canada and Ontario, the major occupational carcinogens are:
- Solar radiation — Linked to non-melanoma skin cancer.
- Asbestos — Linked to mesotheliomas, lung, laryngeal, and ovarian cancer.
- Diesel engine exhaust — Linked to lung and bladder cancer.
- Crystalline silica — Linked to lung cancer.
As you can see, lung cancer is of particular concern. Research shows that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Canada, with about 15% of diagnosed cases yearly due to exposure to lung carcinogens in the workplace.
Whether you’re a carpenter, plumber, construction worker, welder, painter, carpet installer, or anything, frequent contact with the above elements is common among all trades, and they increase your cancer risk.
What can you do to prevent cancer and support your health in the trade industry?
Eat a healthy diet
Can diet prevent cancer?
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) suggests that eating a diet rich in whole grains, veggies, fruits, and legumes can play a role in managing the risk of cancer. Why? Because they are a significant source of fibre, nutrients, and phytochemicals that may help to prevent cancer and regulate related risk factors (e.g., weight gain, obesity, inflammation). The standard guidance is to make these foods ⅔ of your plate, also known as a plant-based diet.
Other AICR recommendations for cancer prevention include limiting your intake of fast foods, red and processed meats, alcohol, and sugar.
I know preparing plant-based meals or finding decent spots for lunch can be a hassle, but eating healthy on the job is doable.
Some of the strategies you can apply to achieve this without spending lots of time and money include:
- Vetting the restaurant options near your job site
- Prepping no-cook dishes on the go
- Getting local farm boxes delivered to your home
- Batch cooking and maximizing leftovers
Not ALL your meals need to be 100% healthy. But every day you decide to nourish your body is another day you are working towards building a healthy and prosperous life.
Need healthy eating inspiration for busy schedules? Here are a couple no-granola recipes and extra resources to eat wholesome and tasty food at work while lowering your risk of cancer:
Breakfast — Oatmeal with Fresh Fruit
- PRO TIP: Don’t feel like cooking? Make overnight oats by mixing the ingredients in a jar and letting them sit in your fridge overnight (no cooking required). The next morning, grab your jar and go!
Lunch — One-Pot Beef Stew
- PRO TIP: Yes, you can still eat beef as part of a healthy diet! Simply limit your consumption of red meats to up to 3 portions per week (~12-18 cooked ounces total). Cook this stew over the weekend and take it to work for three days, mixing and matching it with other batch-cook recipes to spice things up!
Looking for specific cancer-fighting foods to complement your menu? Check these out!
And be aware of the options available around Toronto to get real food on the go or for the fridge.
Our favourite Toronto farmer's markets
- St. Lawrence Market
- 93 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1C3 → View map
- Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
- Wychwood Barns Farmer’s Market
- 13 Benson Ave, Toronto, ON M6G 4C6 → View map
- Saturdays from 8am – 1pm
- Evergreen Brick Works
- 550 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4W 3X8 → View map
- Saturdays from 9am – 1pm
Our favourite Toronto butcher shops
- The Healthy Butcher
- 298 Eglinton Ave W, Toronto, ON M4R 1B2 → View map
- Bespoke Butchers
- Sanagan’s Meat Locker
Our favourite Toronto fisheries
- De La Mer
- Hooked Inc.
- Diana’s Seafood
- 2101 Lawrence Ave, E. Scarborough, ON M1R 3C3 → View map
Our favourite Toronto bakeries and organic mills
- 8 Pardee Ave. Toronto, ON M6K 3H1 → View map
- At Wychwood Barns Farmer’s Market → View map
- Saturdays from 8am – 1pm
- 1847 Stone Milling
- Available at various retailers and online
- Blackbird Baking Co.
- Mabel’s Bakery
What more can you do to protect and support a prosperous trades career?
Supplement with IV therapy
Intravenous (IV) therapy is an effective treatment that supplies fluids, medication, vitamins, and minerals directly into your bloodstream through a needle or catheter, instead of going through the digestive system.
IV therapy provides a controlled delivery and speedy absorption of fluids and nutrients, which may lead to a swift performance and recovery. It’s used to treat dehydration, pain, nutritional deficiencies, and other conditions.
High-dose vitamin C-IV is a popular and safe route to equip your body with the many benefits of vitamin C (e.g., antioxidant activity, boosted immunity, improved heart health).
While more research is required to understand high-dose IV vitamin C anti-cancer properties, evidence suggests it may be a powerful supplemental treatment for cancer, mitigating chemotherapy’s side effects and improving quality of life in palliative care. Other reviews align with these results, stating it might also reduce symptoms like fatigue and bone pain in advanced cancer patients.
If you want to complement your efforts to eat well on the job and protect your health, consider IV vitamin C or other IV therapies for nutritional supplements.
Detox with chelation therapy
While we are easily exposed to toxins in our environment, heavy metal poisoning is a prevalent problem in the trade industry. It affects construction, mining, welding, smelting, and manufacturing, among other trades, because of the heavy metal presence in many sites and operations.
Heavy metal poisoning happens when your body accumulates high levels of metals after frequent or major exposure. Some of the heavy metals you might be in contact with at a trade job include lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, chromium, copper, and nickel.
Our body requires some metals to carry on with biological processes (e.g., iron, zinc). Yet, high levels of heavy metals may increase your risk of cancer, reduce your cells’ antioxidant properties, and affect your respiratory, nervous, reproductive, and digestive systems. Additional complications include blood pressure problems and organ damage.
Chelation therapy is the primary treatment used to remove heavy metals from your body. It consists of delivering a chelating agent (chemical compound) orally, or via an IV drip, This agent binds to metals, collects, and releases them through the urine.
If you are struggling with symptoms of heavy metal poisoning (e.g., abdominal pain, dehydration, fatigue) or want to detox your body from metals you are exposed to daily, chelation therapy might be an excellent alternative however, I recommend testing first.
Keep in mind that no single food or treatment mentioned above can prevent or cure cancer or act as a magic bullet. However, healthier habits and complementary therapies can replenish your body and mitigate some risks in the trades world.
You know your trade better than anyone.
But understanding the risks and options available to prevent long-term health damage can make a huge difference.
Reach out to discuss a diet plan that adapts to your work schedule and the possibility of IV or chelation therapy as supplemental treatments.
Fill out this form and we’ll take it from there.
Dr. Elena Krasnov, N.D.
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