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Focus on Cancer

We are happy to announce the launch of our new Abramson Cancer Center website.

Please stay connected to our Focus On Cancer blog by visiting us there.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cancer Fighting Cupboard: Red Potato Salad

Content for this post provided by Joan Karnell Cancer Center.

Potato salad isn't just for picnics. This sophisticated version can be used as a side dish for even the fanciest meal. Instead of mayonnaise, we use mustard and wine combined with vinegar and a moderate amount of olive oil. The result is a sharply flavored mix for the potatoes. Small red potatoes – also called new potatoes – are better suited for this dish because they have a firmer texture after boiling than the commonly used russets or baking potatoes. Remember to remove any sprouts before cooking. If you find very small red potatoes, you can leave the skin on and cut them in half.
  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, organic if possible
  • 1/4 cup Dijon or Dusseldorf mustard
  • 1/4 cup dry white vermouth
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 tsp capers
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Chopped fresh dill to taste
  • 1/2 lb steamed green beans, cut in 1-inch pieces (optional)
Boil potatoes in their skins, covered, just until they can be easily pierced with a sharp knife.
Meanwhile, prepare dressing in a jar, combining mustard, vermouth, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste; shake well.

Drain potatoes, let cool enough to handle, then peel and cut into thick slices. Place in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the potatoes while they are warm, tossing well.

Add chopped onion, sliced celery, capers, finely chopped parsley, dill and, if you like, other chopped vegetables (red bell pepper, radish). Correct seasoning. Chill until served.

If desired, you can toss in lightly cooked fresh green beans as a good last-minute addition. Serves 6

Nutrients Per Serving
Calories: 153.7, Protein: 3.2 grams, Fat: 5.1 grams, Saturated Fat: 0.7 grams, Monounsat Fat: 3.7 grams, Polyunsat Fat: 0.5 grams, Carbohydrate: 23.6 grams, Fiber: 2.7 grams, Cholesterol: 0.0 mg, Vitamin A: 280.1 IU, Vitamin E: 0.9 mg/IU, Vitamin C: 30.5 mg, Calcium: 31.5 mg, Magnesium: 35.9 mg

Source: Andrew Weil, MD. Visit

Monday, May 23, 2011

Beware of Pesticides

Content for this post provided by Joan Karnell Cancer Center.

Research conducted by the Environmental Working Group found that people who eat five fruits and vegetables a day from the Dirty Dozen™ list consume an average of 10 pesticides a day. Rinsing reduces, but does not eliminate pesticides. Peeling helps, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the skin.

The best approach is to eat a varied diet, rinse all produce and buy organic whenever possible.

Information adapted from the Environmental Working Group “EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides” available at:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cancer Fighting Cupboard: Hot and Smokey Baked Beans - A Great BBQ Side Dish

Content for this post provided by Joan Karnell Cancer Center.

As we stated in last week's post, beans are a food that is ripe with phytochemicals, which are natural compounds in food that scientists believe may play a role in cancer prevention. With the summer months approaching, this tasty recipe for "Hot and Smokey Baked Beans" is a perfect side dish to be enjoyed at a barbecue or a family cook out!

  • 1 and 1/2 lb. dried great northern white beans (3 and 1/2 - 4 cups)
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 1 and 1/4 cup tomato based barbecue sauce
  • 12 oz. tomato based salsa
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tsp. salt
Place white beans in heavy large Dutch oven. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and let beans stand until cool, about one hour.
Drain beans. Return to same pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 20 minutes. Add two teaspoons salt and simmer 20 minutes longer. Drain beans reserving 1 and 1/2 cups liquid.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Combine cooked beans, reserved liquid, chopped onion, barbecue sauce, salsa, brown sugar, mustard, molasses and additional salt to taste in same large pot. Cover pot and bake bean mixture one hour. Uncover and bake until bean mixture is very thick, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes longer.

Note: Recipe can be prepared a day ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Before serving, re-warm over low heat, stirring frequently. Yields 12 servings.

Nutrition analysis per serving:
269 calories, 0 saturated fat, 1g fat, 0 cholesterol, 15g protein, 51g carbohydrates, 20g fiber, 384 IU vitamin A, 868mg sodium, 2mg iron, 7mg vitamin C

Recipe provided compliments of Victor R. LeVeque.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cancer Fighting Cupboard: Phytochemicals - The Cancer Fighters

Content for this post provided by Joan Karnell Cancer Center.

The American Institute of Cancer Research recommends you to eat your fruits and vegetables -- and so do we. Fruits and vegetables are packed with phytochemicals,  naturally occurring plant chemicals (phyto means plant in Greek) that provide plants with color, odor and flavor. 

Laboratory studies have shown that phytochemicals have the potential to:
  • Stimulate the immune system
  • Block substances we eat, drink and breathe from becoming carcinogens
  • Reduce the kind of inflammation that makes cancer growth more likely
  • Prevent DNA damage and help with DNA repair
  • Reduce the kind of oxidative damage to cells that can spark cancer
  • Slow the growth rate of cancer cells
  • Trigger damaged cells to "commit suicide" before they can reproduce
  • Help to regulate hormones
Steps to Take Now:
  • Eat a balanced diet high in a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans
  • Favor brightly colored or strongly flavored vegetables and fruits, which are often the best sources of phytochemicals
  • Stick to food sources – phytochemicals in supplement form may not be as easily absorbed as those from food.
Visit to learn more about these cancer fighting foods:

Information adapted from the American Institute of Cancer Research, “Add Cancer Protective Foods.”

Cancer Fighting Cupboard is from Debra DeMille, MS, RD, CSO, and Carly Roop, RD, CSO, certified specialists in oncology nutrition, from the Joan Karnell Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cancer Fighting Cupboard: Delicious Recipe for Roasted Lemon Asparagus

Content for this post provided by Joan Karnell Cancer Center.

Seize the moment while asparagus is in season with this easy and delicious recipe. Along with being a good source of vitamins, asparagus is high in the micronutrient glutathione, an antioxidant that is believed to boost immune cells and protect the body from viruses.

Roasted Lemon Asparagus

  • 2 bunches of asparagus, tough ends trimmed
  • 2 lemons, sliced thin
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 tsp. chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp. Dried
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. Fresh ground pepper
* Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
* Toss all ingredients in a bowl and spread out on to a baking sheet.
* Roast, occasionally shaking the pan, until the asparagus is tender crisp – approximately 14 minutes.

Adapted from: Eating Well Magazine, April/May 2006.
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