Foods that fight cancer
A Natural Diet Helps Fight Cancer
Recently I questioned actor Dirk Benedict's assertion that he cured prostrate cancer with a macrobiotc diet, and thought he was just another celebrity spouting off some crank health beliefs, as celebrities are sometimes wont to do. The recent Celebrity Big Brother Finalist and former A Team star contracted the disease when he was just 30, but shunned conventional medicine in treating it, and adopted a healthy diet of rice, beans and vegetables instead, which he wrote about in his best selling book 'Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy'. Latest research shows that he probably knows what he is talking about after all, and he is still here to tell the tale at a youthful looking age of 61.
Cancer is not just caused by genes, but new research shows that in many cases cancer can actually be prevented. Every year ten million cases of cancer in the world are diagnosed, but it doesn't have to be a destiny for many, as diet is able to modulate our DNA, and reduce the development of tumours. In a study published last month, in the eminent science Journal Faseb, scientists from five European countries, among them Spain, have demonstrated by using volunteers that Northern Europeans are more likely to develop certain cancers than Spaniards and Italians. The reason? Olive oil. According to the investigators, “ olive oil could partly explain the great difference in the rates of cancers between the countries of the north and the south of Europe . Without a doubt, our study reinforces the idea of the relation between diet and risk of developing tumours”. For example, a Spaniard has half the risk of developing breast cancer than someone from Iceland. A Japanese person is 40 times more likely to suffer stomach cancer than an Indian. An Afro American has more 50 times more likelihood of having a prostrate tumour than a Chinaman.
It seems that lifestyle and diet play an important part in the development and incidences of csncer, especially as evidence suggests that immigrants to the United States from India, Japan and China become eqaully at risk as those from their host nation, knocking the theory that we are genetically disposed towards cancer..
Repeated studies highlight foods of plant and vegetable origin are key to cancer prevention. “Vegetables are a very complex package of hundreds of substances and have developed over millions years of evolution to protect themselves from radiation, and plagues and other environmental threats and have the capacity to alter the mechanisms that lead to the cancer.” indicates doctor Walter Willett, professor of the School of Public Health of the University of Harvard, one of the scientists involved in the study. Diets poor in folic acid (present in green leafy vegetables and oranges) increase the risk of colon cancer. In an investigation with mice just published in Cancer Research Today, investigators of the McGill University (Canada) explain how none of the animals to which they gave diets rich in folic acid developed colon cancer, whereas one of each four assigned to diets deficient in folic acid developed a tumour. Therefore low levels of folic acid increases the likelihood of damage to our DNA, that allows cancers to develop.
“A million men and women will develop to east cancer year in the world and many of them will die”, declared doctor Philip Branton, director of the Institute of Research Cancer of Canada, when knowing the results. “This study demonstrates that, simply including a nutrient in the diet, we can prevent the risk with colon cancer and, also, to avoid enormous costs to health systems around the world.”
Here are some more foods which scientists have proven to prevent cancer.
Bran lessens the risk of colon cancer by 40%. A European Study on Diet and Cancer examined the relation between fibre consumption and colon cancer in more than ten European countries and found: “The populations with poor fibre diets can reduce the risk of colon cancer by 40% if they change their diets to incorpoarte more bran."
Garlic and onions reduce the risk of the onset of both stomach and colon cancers by half and 75% respectively.
Chillies and peppers induce the death of cells that cause prostrate cancer and inhibits their growth when the disease has already been diagnosed, because of their unique ingredient capsicum.
Olive oil. The ingredient of oleic acid reduces the gene activity that causes malignant tumours to grow, particularly in the occurence of breast cancer. It is best to eat it in its crude form rather than for frying.
Green and leafy vegetables. Broccoli, Brussel cabbage and even cauliflower contain an ingredient called I3C, that stimulates the repair of DNA cells in fighting cancer. It can prevent cancer occuring and kill the cells in diagnosed cases, particularly in cancers of the breast, prostate and ovaries, especially if eaten raw or undercooked.
Mushrooms. These are effective in preventing breast cancer as they have antitumour compounds, such as lentinan, found in shiitake mushrooms. This ingredient is approved in Japan's oncology departments in cancer treatment.
Cumin is a staple of the Indian diet where the incidence of cancer is very low. Used in curries, cumin has in its cellular structures, a pigment that inhibits the production of a protein that stimulates the growth of colon tumours. It also combats melonoma cells and cells that cause breast cancer.
Grapes. The ingredient of resveratrol found in grapes and wine kills cancerous cells preventing the action of a protein (NF-kB) that sustains them. It is actually healthy to drink at least 3 glasses of wine a week.
Berries in their fresh form contain an enzyme called citocormo P450, that deactivates compounds able to start tumours caused by smoking. Bilberries have the greatest amount of this enzyme and the good news is that homemade jams and juices containing fruits such as blackberries, blackcurrants and billberries are also good to use in the diet.
Tomatoes. The properties of tomatoes, ketchups and other tomato based sauces are very effective in combatting cancer, due to an ingredient called licopeno that when used plentifully in diets, reduces the risk of prostrate cancer.
Tea. Experts of the Karolinska Institute of Stockholm examined the relation between the tea consumption and the risk of ovarian cancer: they followed the diet of 61,000 women aged between 40 and 76 years old from 1987 to 2004 and found that drinking two or more cups of tea daily lessens the risk of ovarian cancer by 50%.
Pulses and beans: string beans, chick-peas, peas,, lentils, call them what you will, but pulses and beans have been found by experts at the University College of London (Research Cancer, 2005) to contain an enzyme that assists chemotherapy drugs in fighting cancer.
So, it seems that there is much evidence that natural foods have cancer fighting properties. I'm off now to nip to the shops and buy some lentils and berries.
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