Nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction are the primary factors that help prevent development of free radicals in the body, build up the immune system and strengthen it.
Our immune system plays an important role in keeping free radicals in check, limiting the development of cancerous cells and combating cancer.
What are these free radicals and why are they so dangerous?
The air we breathe in contains oxygen, a molecule that helps our body to and function smoothly. Sometimes, metabolic processes, pollution in the air, smoking, and even junk food (yes, that’s right) can create unstable oxygen ions in the body. The oxygen radicals circulate in the bloodstream and ‘snatch’ electrons from the tissues thus destabilizing those ‘attacked’ molecules in the tissues by making them short of electrons. They in turn circulate as free radicals on the lookout for molecules from which they can snatch electrons, thus kick-starting a series of chain reactions . This process is called ‘oxidative damage’.
Anti-oxidants are molecules that interact with free radicals and stop the chain reactions that damage the cells (including DNA) in our body. They help by destroying free radicals in the body and in the process reduce oxidative stress. Apart from building the immune system, they inhibit the gene expression for cancer and induce gene expression that promotes tumor suppression. . Further, they arrest uncontrolled cell division, thereby preventing the development of cancer.
Anti-oxidants that fight cancer include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, phenolics and resveratrol among hundreds of other substances. And these are the substances that are easily available in most herbs and spices in your spice rack. Anti-oxidants in food are measured in units of Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). The FDA recommends 3,000 units of ORAC a day.
It’s true that you can’t get all the anti-oxidants you need from the herbs but the anti-oxidants in herbs can supplement the anti-oxidants you get from fruits and vegetables.
Tips for taking anti-oxidants
- No anti-oxidant can cure or fight cancer that is already developed. But it can stop spreading the cancer by limiting the development of new cancerous cells.
- Studies have shown that a diet rich in multiple anti-oxidants is better than one supplemented with an individual anti-oxidant.
- Natural anti-oxidants have been found to be more effective than synthetic anti-oxidant or supplements. Anti-oxidant supplements may cause interactions and toxicity.
- If you smoke, anti-oxidants may not help you prevent cancer. Rather, a study showed that there is an increased risk of lung cancer in male smokers who took anti-oxidants as compared with those who didn’t smoke.
- Dried herbs are stronger tasting. Store dried herbs in a cool, dark place to make it last a year.
- The Role of Herbs and Spices in Cancer Prevention - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2771684/?tool=pubmed)
- Srihari T, Sengottuvelan M, Nalini N. Dose-dependent effect of oregano (Origanum vulgare L.) on lipid peroxidation and antioxidant status in 1,2-dimethylhydrazine-induced rat colon carcinogenesis. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2008 Jun;60(6):787-94.
- Aydin,Sevtap etal. Modulating Effects of Thyme and Its Major Ingredients on Oxidative DNA Damage in Human Lymphocytes. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2005, 53 (4), pp 1299–1305.
- Cilantro Chelation - That Can Save Your Life - (http://www.newmediaexplorer.org/chris/2006/02/19/cilantro_chelation_that_can_save_your_life.htm)
- D. Gajula, M. Verghese, J. Boateng, L. Shackelford and S.R. Mentreddy et al., 2010. Basil (Ocimum basilicum and Ocimum tenuiflorum) reduces azoxymethane induced colon tumors in fisher 344 male rats. Res. J. Phytochem., 4: 136-145.
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine - (http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/DietandNutrition/maitake-mushrooms)
- Kim SH, Hyun SH, Choung SY. Antioxidative effects of Cinnamomi cassiae and Rhodiola rosea extracts in liver of diabetic mice. Biofactors. 2006;26(3):209-19.
- Ishiguro K, Ando T, Maeda O, Ohmiya N, Niwa Y, Kadomatsu K, Goto H. Ginger ingredients reduce viability of gastric cancer cells via distinct mechanisms. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2007 Oct 12;362(1):218-23. Epub 2007 Aug 10.
- More information on complementary and alternative medicine - (http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/HerbsVitaminsandMinerals/turmeric)
- Kuttan R, Sudheeran PC, Josph CD. Turmeric and curcumin as topical agents in cancer therapy. Tumori. 1987 Feb 28;73(1):29-31.
- Green tea extract appears to keep cancer in check in majority of CLL patients - (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100607101702.htm)