According to the American Cancer Society, about half of cancer deaths are preventable. Researchers published in Pharmaceutical Research (2008) stated, “This year, more than 1 million Americans and more than 10 million people worldwide are expected to be diagnosed with cancer, a disease commonly believed to be preventable.”
The authors go on to state that only 5–10 percent of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, while the remaining 90–95 percent have their roots in the environment and lifestyle.
We all know that eating more fruits and vegetables builds the body’s defenses against cancerous changes in our cells. Researchers suggest that as many as 30–35 percent of cancers are linked to diet. Fortunately, science is also discovering those compounds in certain foods that are proving to be powerful cancer fighters. Here are seven of the best we could find to date, though as you know, the research is always evolving.
1. Black Raspberries
In animal studies, researchers at the Ohio University found that those whose diets included black raspberries had a 60 percent reduction in tumors of the esophagus and up to 80 percent reduction in colon tumors. Another study at the same university in 2008 found that freeze-dried black raspberry powder restored natural activity in genes altered by a chemical carcinogen.
According to scientists from Rutgers University, blueberries are not only antioxidant powerhouses, they also have a chemical called “pterostilbene” that may help prevent colon cancer. The researchers went so far as to state that this chemical could be developed into a pill with the potential for fewer side effects than some commercial drugs used to prevent the disease. Other studies have shown that blueberries may inhibit breast cancer tumor growth.
3. Raw (or “Cloudy) Apple Juice
German researchers say that drinking two glasses of unfiltered apple juice a day may help prevent colon cancer. Animal studies showed a 38–40 percent reduction in benign tumors of the small intestine. Cloudy apple juice has been found to be up to four times higher in antioxidants than clear apple juice.
These blue-green algae thrive in fresh water, and are skimmed off the surface and processed to become a powder. Try it in your smoothies as a protein booster and cancer preventer. Studies have found spirulina to be promising in preventing oral cancer.
Researchers at Ohio University found that Hass Avocadoes stop the uncontrollable growth of pre-cancerous cells that lead to oral cancer. Avocadoes are also high in lutein, and thus may also be beneficial in preventing prostate and breast cancer.
Together with cabbage and cauliflower, broccoli contains a component called “indole-3-crabinole” that has been found to protect against breast cancer. Broccoli also has the phytochemical known as “sulforaphane,” believed to help prevent colon and rectal cancer. In fact, a study by Oregon State University researchers found that sulforaphane targets and kills prostate cancer cells. A note—the more bitter the broccoli, the more sulforaphane it has.
This is the big daddy when it comes to cancer prevention. According to researchers who analyzed a number of studies, people who consume raw or cooked garlic regularly face about half the risk of stomach cancer and two-thirds the risk of colorectal cancer as those who eat little or none. (Supplements did not have the same effect.)
Truth be told, most plants could be on this list, some foods just tend to have better cancer prevention action and these are some of the ones that were highlighted.
Some points to clarify here…
1. All cruciferous vegetables — not just broccoli — have anti-cancer properties. These include cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, kale, chard, collard greens and more. When cooked, they do lose some of these properties, so be sure to eat a wide variety of these raw and cooked. (Not too much raw if you have a sluggish thyroid!)
2. I know some of you are going to point out that apple juice is high in sugar so it shouldn’t be used by cancer patients. While I understand the reasoning here, many of the natural cancer doctors that I interviewed feel that juices with natural sugars are not the biggest concern when it comes to healing cancer naturally. Many of the therapies use carrot juice and some apple juice and people still heal — what this means is that the fruit or sweet vegetable juice isn’t the only factor.
3. Finally, if you just eat these foods you will not be assured that you will be cancer free. There are many more factors that contribute to your risk of cancer. Some of which are hormone balance, stress levels, quality of sleep, environmental toxins, and genetic expression. A cancer prevention protocol includes all of these in the hope that together they will make you as protected as possible.
Do you try to get cancer-fighting foods in your diet? Which would you recommend?
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Photo courtesy marrick43215 via Flickr.com.
Preetha Anand, et al., “Cancer is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes,” Pharm. Res. 2008 September; 25(9): 2097-2116. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515569/
American Chemical Society (2007, March 25). New Research on Finding Cancer-Fighting Foods, Supplements. Science Daily. Retrieved March 31, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com-/releases/2007/03/070325111619.htm
Ohio State University (2008, August 27). Black Raspberries Slow Cancer By Altering Hundreds of Genes. Science Daily. Retrieved March 31, 2012, from http:///www.sciencedaily.com-/releases/2008/08/080827163933.htm
Lynn S. Adams, et al., “Whole Blueberry Powder Modulates the Growth and Metastasis of MDA-MB-231 Triple Negative Breast Tumors in Nude Mice,” The Journal of Nutrition, August 31, 2011. http://www.wildblueberries.com/health_benefits/PDFs/JNutr-2011-Adams-1805-12.pdf
Babu Mathew, et al., “Evaluation of Chemoprevention of Oral Cancer with Spirulina-fusiformisI,” Nutr Cancer 24, 1995: 197-202. http://www.hawaiian-spirulina.com/bilimsel/PDF%20Dosyalar/oralkanser_chemoprevention.pdf
Joel Schwartz, et al., “Prevention of Experimental Oral Cancer by Extracts of Spirulina-Dunaliella Algae,” Nutr Cancer 11, 1988:127-134. http://www.algbiotek.com/bilimsel/PDF%20Dosyalar/oralkanserinonlenmesi.pdf
Ohio State University (2007, September 4). Avocadoes May Help Prevent Oral Cancer, Study Shows. Science Daily. Retrieved March 31, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com-/releases/2007/09/070904114442.htm
“Study Confirms Safety, Cancer-Targeting Abiliyt of Nutrient in Broccoli,” Oregon State University, June 9, 2011. http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2011/jun/study-confirms-safety-cancer-targeting-ability-nutrient-broccoli-other-vegetables
Aaron T. Fleischauer, et al., “Garlic Consumption and Cancer Prevention: Mega-Analysis of Colorectal and Stomach Cancers,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 2, No. 4, October 2000: 1047-1052.