Foods That Fight Cancer

Studies have shown a link between preventing/fighting cancer and the following list of foods:

University of Illinois researchers discovered that the spice, turmeric, reduced the chronic inflammation caused by H. pylori, a bacteria associated with colon cancer. The inflammation itself is what has been associated with the development of cancer. The best way to increase your intake of turmeric is to eat Indian food, especially yellow curry, which contains turmeric and often cancer fighters such as garlic and onions. Another way to get some turmeric into your diet is by using mustard on your sandwiches. The bright yellow mustards are high in turmeric.

The American Institute on Cancer Research (AICR) found evidence that foods containing whole grains can decrease one’s risk of developing colorectal cancer. Whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and plant compounds (phytochemicals) that protect cells from the types of damage that may lead to cancer. Whole-grain foods include breads, rolls, pasta and cereals; whole grain oat cereals such as oatmeal, popcorn, wild rice, tortilla and tortilla chips, corn, kasha (roasted buckwheat) and tabouleh (bulghur wheat).

The AICR also says that cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy and kale) probably protect against cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and stomach. Lab studies suggested that cruciferous vegetables help regulate bodily enzymes that defend against cancer of the breast, endometrium, lung, colon, liver, colon and cervix.

Scientists believe that several active ingredients in soy beans may have anti-cancer effects. Soy has been shown to slow the growth of prostate cancer cells. Foods made from soybeans include tofu, soymilk, soybeans, soynuts, miso (soy paste), tempeh, soy burgers and soynut butter.

Note -soy consumption is not recommended for women with estrogen-receptive breast cancer or who are taking anti-estrogen medications such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors. Researchers suggest that these patients avoid soy until more is known.

Both black and green teas contain numerous active ingredients, including polyphenols and flavonoids, which are potent antioxidants. One kind of flavonoid, called catechin, has recently become the focus of widespread study for their anti-cancer potential. Tea is the best source of catechins in the human diet, and green tea contains about three times as much as black tea. In lab studies, green tea has been shown to slow or completely prevent cancer developent in colon, liver, bladder, stomach, pancreas, throat, breast and prostate cells. Other studies involving green tea have shown similar protective effects in tissues of the lung, skin and digestive tract.

White tea surpasses green tea at preventing colon cancer. Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute tested the two teas' abilities to block colon-polyp growth and white tea was about 10 percent more successful. In fact, it stopped polyps as effectively as Sulindac, a powerful anti-inflammatory drug. Prescription anti-inflammatories can cause internal bleeding and ulcers but tea is pretty much safe from such side effects. 3 cups a day of white tea be enough to lower your cancer risk.

Note: Very high amounts of green tea components (usually associated with overdosage of green tea supplements) have been shown to interact with drugs that affect blood clotting such as aspirin. Be careful!

The AICR says spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, mustard greens, collard greens, chicory and Swiss chard are excellent sources of fiber, folate and carotenoids. Dietary fiber reduces one’s chances of developing colorectal cancer. Folate helps decrease the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Foods containing carotenoids discourage cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx as well as breast, skin, lungs and stomach.

Flaxseed is an excellent source for substances called lignans. Lignans are classified as phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) because they seem to mimic the action of estrogen in the body. In some studies, this has been linked to reduced cancer risk. Flax is also the richest plant source of the omega-3 fatty acid, alphalinolenic acid (ALA). In several large scale studies, this fat has shown protection from heart disease and some cancers. In several laboratory studies, flaxseed has inhibited the formation of colon, breast, skin and lung tumors. However, there is some indication that the anti-cancer effect of flaxseed varied widely depending upon the variety of flaxseed and its growing conditions. Flaxseed is available as flaxseed flour, flaxseed meal (which has the texture of cornmeal), flaxseed oil and whole flaxseeds. The whole seeds cannot be digested, so they provide no nutritional or health benefits unless they are ground. In some short-term human studies, flaxseed has changed estrogen metabolism in ways that suggest protection against estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer.

Note - flaxseed oil does not naturally contain lignans, although some manufacturers add them during processing.

Caution: High amounts of flaxseed and flaxseed oil can reduce blood clotting and promote bleeding, and may interact with drugs that that have a similar effect, such as aspirin.

The tomato has lycopene which tends to concentrate in tissues of the prostate. The AICR found substantial and convincing evidence that foods containing lycopene probably protect against prostate cancer. In animal studies, consumption of tomatos has been linked to large decreases in the risk of prostate cancer risk. Processed tomatoes (juice, paste, sauce) allow easier absorption and an even better lowering of cancer risk. Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, together with a group of related compounds collectively called the “red family,” has shown anti-cancer potential in different studies. In the lab , tomato components have stopped the proliferation of several other cancer cells types, including breast, lung, and endometrial.

A recent 12-year Harvard study of nearly 48,000 men found that those who ate fish more than three times a week were 40 percent less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer. It's a combination of Omega-3s, vitamin A and vitamin D all of which may help prevent prostate cancer. Eating real fish is recommended over taking Omega supplements. Salmon, mackerel, and herring have the best balance of omega-3s, vitamin A, and vitamin D.

The Allium family includes garlic, onions, scallions, leeks and chives. According to the AICR, foods belonging to the allium family probably protect against stomach cancer. Their report shows that garlic, in particular, probably decreases one’s chances of developing colorectal cancer. They found that the more garlic one ate, the greatest decrease in risk. In lab studies, components of garlic have shown the ability to slow or stop the growth of tumors in prostate, bladder, colon and stomach tissue. Lab research has also shown that one garlic component (diallyl disulfide) has preventive effects against cancers of the skin, colon and lung. Recently, this compound proved able to kill leukemia cells in the laboratory. A compound derived from garlic called ajoene has displayed similar activity. In animal studies, components in Allium vegetables have slowed the development of cancer in several stages and at various body sites: stomach, breast, esophagus, colon and lung.

Both grapes and grape juice are rich sources of resveratrol. Scientists believe that resveratrol has a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect. In laboratory studies, resveratrol has been able to prevent the kind of damage known to trigger the cancer process in cell, tissue and animal models. Other lab research points to resveratrol’s ability to slow the growth of cancer cells and inhibit the formation of tumors in lymph, liver, stomach and breast cells. Resveratrol has also triggered the death of leukemic and colon cancer tumors. In one series of studies, resveratrol blocked the development of skin, breast and leukemia cancers at all three stages of the disease. The skin of the grape contains the most resveratrol. Red and purple grapes contain significantly more than green grapes. However, grape jam and raisins contain much smaller amounts of this phytochemical and should not be considered therapeutic. The AICR does not recommend grape wine because alcohol is associated with an increased risk for cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx, esophagus, breast, colon and rectum.

A University of Arizona study found that people who regularly eat citrus zest cut their risk of squamous-cell skin cancer by 30 percent. Animal studies suggest that citrus zest can actually shrink existing tumors. Even lab rats lived longer when citrus zest was part of their diets. The oils in the peels of oranges, lemons, and grapefruit contain compounds that stimulate the body's production of a detoxifying enzyme. If chewing on peels isn't your thing, then grate the colored portion of the peel and add the pile of zest (at least a tablespoonful per person) to soups, salads, and salsa, or sprinkle it on chicken and fish.

Ohio State University researchers treated human prostate cells with whey protein and then measured the cells' levels of a natural cancer-blocking compound called glutathione. It ends up that these levels rose by 64 percent when whey was consumed. An excellent source of whey is yogurt; a lot of the protein is in the clear liquid on top, so don't pour it off. You can also pick up powdered whey-protein isolate and add it to instant oatmeal.

Researchers at UCLA say cranberries contain tumor-blocking compounds, including phenolicacids, glycosides, and anthocyanins. These compounds are effective at preventing cancer in the colon and prostate as well as on the head and neck. They either kill the cancer cells or slow down their growth. Every day, have some cranberry juice, cranberry sauce or dried cranberry snacks.

Purdue University researchers studied Gamma Tocopherol (a form of viamin E) against prostate and lung cancer and discovered that it was able to stop the cells' growth. It also helped kill existing tumor cells without hurting the healthy ones. Gamma Tocopherol isn't included in most E supplements. You can find it in sesame oil and walnuts.

The active ingredients in beans that scientists believe may play a role in cancer prevention include saponins, protease inhibitors and phytic acid. These compounds are found naturally in plants and appear to protect our cells from damage that can lead to cancer. Beans are also rich in fiber. Foods containing dietary fiber, like beans, can decrease one’s risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Berries are known as good sources of vitamin C and fiber. According to the AICR, foods high in vitamin C probably protect against cancer of the esophagus, while foods containing dietary fiber can probably decrease one’s risk of developing colorectal cancer. All berries, but particularly strawberries and raspberries, are rich in a substance called ellagic acid. In lab studies, this chemical has shown the ability to prevent cancers of the skin, bladder, lung, esophagus and breast. Research suggests that ellagic acid seems to utilize several different cancer-fighting methods at once: it acts as an antioxidant, it helps the body deactivate specific carcinogens and it helps slow the reproduction of cancer cells. Strawberries also contain a wide range of other phytochemicals, called flavonoids, each of which seems to employ a similar array of anti-cancer strategies. Blueberries contain a family of phenolic compounds called anthocyanosides, which many scientists believe are among the most potent antioxidants yet discovered.

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