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Skin Cancer Awareness Month » New! Food for Life 90-Day Journal »  Food for Life Instructor Spotlight: Veg Moms Spill the Beans  » Mother’s Day Comfort Foods Menu » Vegan Diet Reduces Breast Cancer Risk » Food for Life Moving to Jamaica » Diet and Cancer in the News » New Food for Life Cooking Classes
Question of
the Month
I’ve heard that certain preservatives like sodium nitrites/nitrates found in processed meat can cause cancer. If that is true, what about the nitrites in vegetables?


Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Each year, there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, and colon, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Since May is right around the corner, The Cancer Project would like to highlight the importance of skin care. Many sun-goers are looking for that “perfect” tan this summer, but there are a few considerations regarding time in the sun.

Sunshine provides natural vitamin D, which helps control calcium absorption and can also help fight many types of cancer. But too much of it can increase skin cancer risk.

Ten to 15 minutes of direct sunlight typically generates a day’s worth of vitamin D. After that, it is important to cover your skin with sun block and wear clothing for protection. About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. But even melanoma, considered the most serious form of skin cancer, is also largely due to sun exposure, and if someone has had a severe sunburn (blistering) in childhood their risk for acquiring melanoma doubles.

Of course preventing skin cancer is the best bet. However, if diagnosed with skin cancer nutrition can still play its role.

Studies show that foods fortified with vitamin D and foods high in carotenoids (like lycopene) can decrease the risk of skin cancer.1 Plant-sources of vitamin D include fortified cereals, plant-milks, and juices. It is also becoming more common for doctors to prescribe a vitamin D supplement, as many Americans are deficient. Good sources of carotenoids come from brightly colored fruits and veggies. Choose all colors, especially orange and red, to boost up on carotenoids this summer.

It is important to catch skin cancer early in order to have a successful treatment. Look for warning signs of odd skin development and see a dermatologist and your doctor immediately. Possible signs include:

  • A new development/growth on the skin

  • Changes in an existing mole

  • If a new mole forms

  • A sore that refuses to heal

  • Reddish patches (or growing bump) on skin that may appear flat, scaly, and rough

For more information, visit

1Millen AE, Tucker MA, Hartge P, et al. Diet and melanoma in a case-control study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004;13(6):1042-1051.

New! Food for Life 90-Day Journal

This just-published new food journal is perfect for helping people take control of their diet and improve their health. This portable spiral notebook makes it easy to record a daily of record of food intake and physical activity. Bonus features include a seven-day sample menu, recipes, tips for breaking food cravings, pantry suggestions, how to track your fiber intake and body mass index, and much more! Click here to purchase your copy today.

Food for Life Instructor Spotlight: Veg Moms Spill the Beans

The Cancer Project would like to highlight a couple of the many plant-powered moms who not only help families in their communities with making healthier food choices as Food for Life instructors, but are role models for their own families!

Ellen Jaffe Jones

Ellen in her usual running
gear enjoying the sunshine

Ellen Jaffe Jones teaches nutrition and cooking classes to folks in the Anna Maria Island community, an area in southwest Florida. Following 18 years spent as an investigative reporter and news anchor on TV, Ellen spent the next five years as a financial consultant with Smith Barney, where she encouraged others to invest in environmentally conscious, health-promoting, and community-focused companies. There she earned the nickname “Earth Mother in a Suit.”

Ellen's children

Ellen's daughters Rebecca,
Jessica, and Aron who today,
are 22, 20, and 17, respectively

A proud mother of three daughters, Ellen knew that coming from a family with a history of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, that a plant-based diet was the best thing for herself and her family. When her children were young, Ellen grew an organic garden at home featuring a variety of fresh produce including kale, cherry tomatoes, pumpkins, salad greens, carrots, and spices. Going out into the yard and picking fresh vegetables for dinner was common for her daughters and it was something they truly enjoyed. She fondly recalls a preschool trip to a farm with her daughter where the farmer held various vegetables and asked the children to identify them. The farmer held up a leafy green vegetable.

“I’ll never forget the double-take he gave when my Jessica answered without missing a beat, ‘kale,’” said Ellen. “He told me he had never had a child know the difference between spinach and kale. It’s all what you get used to and what’s in your garden.”

Today, Ellen works as an author (Eat Vegan on $4 a Day soon to hit store shelves), columnist, certified personal trainer and running coach, and Food for Life instructor for The Cancer Project. At nearly 60 years young, Ellen continues to place in 5K races for her age group and was the 5th oldest female to finish the Palm Beaches Marathon.


Capo Family

Evelisse with her husband,
Sigfrido, son Sebastian, 15,
and daughters Siara, 9,
Shayla, 7, and Sheriza, 4.

Evelisse Capó is a Doctor of Pharmacy, pharmaceutical engineer, health and nutrition educator, and Food for Life instructor for The Cancer Project in the Sarasota, Fla., area. Originally from Bayamón, Puerto Rico, Evelisse developed a love for cooking by her grandmother’s side.

When she became a mother 15 years ago, her family’s health and nutrition became a top priority. Evelisse started to introduce more fruits and vegetables into their daily diet, not typical of the Puerto Rican cuisine, which relies heavily on meats. During her second pregnancy, she suffered a food poisoning episode with a turkey sandwich at a hospital cafeteria and decided to re-evaluate her food choices. She started to research the link between foods and chronic disease and decided to follow a plant-based diet. Her husband soon adopted a plant-based diet, and they have helped to transform the diet of more than 10 family members in the past nine years.

Sheriza and Siara

Siara and Sheriza
help Mom pick sprouts.

Evelisse’s eldest child, her 15-year-old son Sebastián, decided to follow a plant-based diet at the age of six after watching one of PETA’s documentaries. Her daughters Siara, Shayla, and Sheriza have been eating plant-based since birth and love to help their mom cook meals at home and at community cooking classes. People often ask them how they learned to eat so many healthy foods and their answer is simply, “That is all our mom feeds us.” Her daughters enjoy creating delicious salads on their own with kale, bok choy, and home grown sunflower sprouts. A couple of family favorites are the Mashed Grains and Cauliflower and the Zippy Yams with Collards – two recipes from The Cancer Survivor’s Guide. Her two older daughters, Siara and Shayla, have already started to pick a name for the vegan restaurant they will open when they grow up.


Interested in joining our instructors in the kitchen? View upcoming class listings in your community, by visiting

Mother's Day Menu

Mother’s Day Comfort Foods Menu

Mother’s Day marks an occasion where we celebrate our moms, grandmothers, aunts, and any other strong, female role model that has helped to shape our lives. For this special occasion, The Cancer Project would like to share with you a menu filled with comfort foods in honor of the loved ones who have always provided us with comfort when we most needed it. We have a variety of high-fiber, low-fat recipes that can be added to any of your meals – one of which was submitted by Food for Life instructor (and soon-to-be mom!) Katherine Lawrence. View menu >>

Vegan Diet Reduces Breast Cancer Risk

Insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) is a specific type of hormone that has been linked to a potential increased risk of breast cancer. Similar to measuring cholesterol in the blood to check for heart disease risk, IGF-I is measured over time and depending on the level (i.e., more IGF-I refers to higher cancer risk) can determine cancer risk.

One study looked at women with a genetic susceptibility to cancer risk, and those with a mutation of the BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 gene (tumor suppressor genes). Apparently, those who inherit a mutation of the BRCA1/BRCA2 gene are up to 80 percent more likely to develop breast cancer within their lifetime. Researchers were trying to determine if IGF-I had a connection to breast cancer risk in women genetically susceptible, which could give insight to controlling breast cancer risk by modifying blood levels of IGF-I. Researchers observed 308 women (209 cases and 99 controls) at high genetic risk for breast cancer, and some were carriers of the altered BRCA1or BRCA2 gene. The women already diagnosed with breast cancer (referred to as “cases”) were matched to those unaffected (referred to as “controls”). By observing IGF-I levels from both groups researchers found that those with the highest levels of IGF-I had a 3.5-fold increased breast cancer risk, compared to those with the lowest. When excluding for women on hormone altering medications, like Tamoxifen, the risk was even greater, with a 3.7-fold increased risk. Women with the altered BCRA1/BCRA2 gene who had the highest levels of IGF-I were seven times more likely to develop breast cancer than those with low IGF-I levels. Researchers conclude that if larger studies can confirm these findings, women with genetic susceptibility for breast cancer will have other methods for decreasing risk, such as focusing on lowering IGF-I.

Recent studies suggest a plant-based diet can do just that. Vegetarian and vegan diets tend to be low in circulating levels of IGF-I. Diets high in a variety of fruits and vegetables can significantly reduce breast cancer development in women with BRCA mutations. Since the BRCA gene is responsible for repairing DNA, it is thought that antioxidants in fruits and vegetables can assist the DNA repair system. However, foods most know to increase IGF-I stem from animal protein animal proteins, milk, and dairy protein.

Pasanisi P, Bruno E, Venturelli E, et al. Serum levels of IGF-I and BRCA penetrance: a case control study in breast cancer families. Fam Cancer. Published ahead of print Apr 1, 2011.

Ghadirian P, Narod S, Fafard E, Costa M, Robidoux A, Nkondjock A. Breast cancer risk in relation to the joint effect of BRCA mutations and diet diversity. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2009;117:417-422.

Allen NE, Appleby PN, Davey GK, Kaaks R, Rinaldi S, Key TJ. The associations of diet with serum insulin-like growth factor I and its main binding proteins in 292 women meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002;11(11):1441-1448.

Norat T Dossus L, Rinaldi S, et al. Diet, serum insulin-like growth factor-I and IGF-binding protein-3 in European women. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007;61(1):91-98.

Crowe FL, Key TJ, Allen NE, et al. The association between diet and serum concentrations of IGF-I, IGFBP-1, IGFBP-2, and IGFBP-3 in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009;18(5):1333-1340.

Gonzalez CA, Riboli E. Diet and cancer prevention: Contributions from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Eur J Cancer. 2010;46(14):2555-62.

Food for Life Moving to Jamaica

In April, The Cancer Project took a trip to Saladmaster headquarters in Dallas to train several new Educational Alliance Members from across the United States, Canada, and Jamaica. This marks the first time that the Food for Life program will reach Jamaica! With the highest prostate cancer rates in the world, Jamaica is poised to benefit a great deal from this award-winning nutrition education program that teaches how a low-fat, whole-food, plant-based diet can be a delicious way to help prevent and fight cancer. For more about the Educational Alliance Program, visit

Diet and Cancer in the News

Washington State Dietetic Conference

Evaluating Plant-Based Nutrition for Cancer Prevention and Survival
Registered dietitians from Washington gather annually for their state’s educational conference. During this year’s, held in Yakima, Wash., Cancer Project dietitian Joseph Gonzales, R.D., L.D., presented to more than 100 dietitians on the role of plant-based nutrition for cancer prevention and survival.

Gonzales reminded his colleagues that researchers know more about the links between diet and cancer than ever before. By lowering body weight, limiting fat intake, and avoiding animal products, individuals can significantly cut their cancer risk. But what’s less known is how preventing heart disease and diabetes with a plant-based diet can also reduce cancer risk. In 2010, a consensus report was published by the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society. Findings show that those with diabetes are twice as likely as developing pancreatic, liver, and endometrial cancer, and are more likely to become diagnosed with breast, bladder, and/or colorectal cancer. Considering 25.8 million children and adults in the United States are living with diabetes, this message of prevention was timely. Gonzales shared research from diabetic study participants and how plant-based diets helped reduce complications with diabetes by lowering body weight and decreasing blood sugar and cholesterol levels. These results occurred without study participants counting calories or implementing a vigorous exercise regimen.

A low-fat vegan diet offers hope to many Americans looking for a path to better health. And Gonzales reminded the crowd that—from cooking classes to research conducted by the Washington Center for Clinical Research—The Cancer Project is advancing cancer prevention and survival through whole-food plant-based nutrition.

For more information on this presentation, you may contact Joseph Gonzales at

New Food for Life Cooking and Nutrition Classes for May

See a full class schedule and to register visit here >>



Scottsdale: Blessed Sacrament Parish (04/26, 05/03, 05/10, 05/17)
Yuma: Yuma Central Seventh-Day Adventist Church (05/05, 05/12, 05/19, 06/02, 06/09, 06/16)


Long Beach: St. Mary Medical Center (05/04, 05/11, 05/18, 05/25)
San Diego: Beauty Kliniek (04/21, 04/28, 05/05, 05/12)
San Diego: Cooking 4 Life, Inc. (05/09)
San Diego: Sharp Outpatient Pavilion (03/22, 03/29, 04/12, 04/19, 04/26, 05/03, 05/10)
Santa Cruz: New Leaf Community Markets (04/26, 05/03, 05/10, 05/17)


Bridgeport: St. Vincent's Medical Center (03/22, 04/26, 05/24)
Danbury: Praxair Cancer Center, Danbury Hospital (05/03, 05/10, 05/17)
Litchfield: The Litchfield Community Center (05/09, 05/16, 05/23, 06/01)
Waterbury: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Uconn (03/18, 03/25, 04/08, 04/15, 04/29, 05/06, 05/13)


South Haven: Food for Life Retreat Weekend (05/06, 05/07, 05/08)

North Dakota

Fargo: Skaff Apartments (05/03, 05/10, 05/17, 05/24)


Grand Prairie: First Baptist Church Grand Prairie (04/19, 04/26, 05/03, 05/10)
Grapevine: Unity Church in Grapevine (05/22)
Lewisville: TX Oncology (05/16, 05/23, 06/06, 06/13)


Arlington: Virginia Hospital Center (05/23)


Milwaukee: Whole Foods Market (04/27, 05/04, 05/11, 05/18)


Stoke on Trent: Healthier by Farr (04/21, 04/28, 05/05, 05/12)

The Cancer Project

Advancing cancer prevention and survival
through nutrition education and research.

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