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Foods that Fight Cancer - Slideshow

Developed by Mita Majumdar, M.Sc. | Reviewed by The Medindia Medical Review Team on Oct 04, 2012
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, Foods that Fight Cancer
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 30 percent of cancer deaths are due to lifestyle choices such as unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, smoking, excessive drinking and a high BMI.

You can prevent or fight cancer by choosing a healthy diet that would

» Strengthen your immune system,

» Provide compounds known as inhibitors that inhibit the growth of cancer cells,

» Reduce your risk for many types of cancer, and

» Keep your digestive system clean and healthy.

, Foods that Fight Cancer
The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) recommends a diet that includes 30g to 40g per day of fiber intake from fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and pulses to ward off cancer. Scientists have found that foods rich in fiber guard against bowel cancer. They found that three servings a day of cereal fiber and whole grains reduce the risk of the disease.

Consider including foods such as whole-wheat pasta or whole grain bread, barley, oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice in your diet.

Foods that contain Lycopene

Foods that contain Lycopene, Foods that Fight Cancer
Lycopene, an antioxidant that gives tomatoes and other such vegetables its color, is a carotenoid that helps prevent cancer, say scientists. Apart from tomatoes, lycopene is found in guava, papaya, apricot and grapefruit.

Many studies have shown that consumption of lycopene, especially, tomato and tomato-based products, protects against prostate cancer, lung cancer and stomach cancer. A study found that cooked tomatoes are better than tomato juice in preventing cancer, while a few other studies indicate that lycopene alone does not prevent cancer but they do so in combination with vitamins present in tomato.

Foods containing Beta Carotene

Foods containing Beta Carotene, Foods that Fight Cancer
This is a type of vitamin A said to fight cancer. Beta-carotene is a pro-vitamin A carotenoid (antioxidant) which is converted to retinol in the small intestine. Yellow and orange foods, such as, sweet potato, carrots, squash, apricots, pumpkin and mango, and some greens such as kale and spinach are rich in beta-carotene.

Although beta-carotene is not harmful for the body, scientists caution that vitamin A as supplements do not reduce cancer risk. They recommend eating fresh fruits and vegetables to get the combination of nutrients that is more likely to be helpful than individual vitamins.

Flavonol and Indole Containing Foods

Flavonol and Indole Containing Foods, Foods that Fight Cancer
Indole-3-carbinol (3-indolmetanol) is found in mustard family plants such as cabbage, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. The compound is used as chemotherapeutic agent for cancer treatment.

Similarly, a flavonoid called quercetin, which is abundant in onions, apples, leafy vegetables, beans, tea, and red wine, has antioxidant, anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory activity. One study found that a low dose of quercetin could inhibit cancer cell-specific proliferation by arresting the cell cycle at G1 phase.

Quercetin and Campferol Foods

Quercetin and Campferol Foods, Foods that Fight Cancer
These are two flavonoid antioxidants present in vegetables and nuts, synergistic action of which is known to suppress the growth of certain cancers. The highest total flavonoids content was found in onion leaves (1497.5 mg/kg quercetin, 391.0 mg/kg luteolin, and 832.0 mg/kg kaempferol}, followed by black tea (1491.0 mg/kg}, papaya shoots {1264.0 mg/kg}, and guava .

A study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, revealed that eating 2 ounces of pistachio nuts on a daily basis can slow the progression of lung cancer and helps reduce the effects of most cancers.

Brazilian nuts reduce the effects of prostate cancer because of their selenium content.If you have symptoms such as itchy mouth or wheezing after taking nuts, stop eating them since you may be allergic to nuts.

Pulses and Soy

Pulses and Soy, Foods that Fight Cancer
Lentils and beans such as black beans, kidney beans, lima beans as well as split peas and black-eyed peas are foods that help prevent cancer. Soy and soy products are also good cancer-fighters. They are high in fiber content and also a better choice as a source of protein. Studies have suggested that increased pulses or soy consumption decreased the risk of prostate cancer.

Omega-3 Foods

Omega-3 Foods, Foods that Fight Cancer
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that are necessary for human health. Incidentally, the body can' t make them, so it can be obtained only through food. Fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, and other seafood such as algae and krill are good sources of this fatty acid. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids in fish may reduce the risk of many types of cancers by 30 to 50 per cent, especially the cancers of the oral cavity, esophagus and colon, and even breast cancer, cancer of the ovary and prostate cancer.


Spices , Foods that Fight Cancer
Studies have shown that curcumin found in turmeric inhibits tumor formation and carcinogenesis.Studies have shown that not only does turmeric have anti-tumor effects in HNSCC (Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma), it can also be used as an adjuvant therapy for such cancers.

Similarly, rosemary increases the activity of detoxification enzymes thus inhibiting the development of breast cancer and skin tumor in animals. However, it is still untested in humans.


Mushrooms, Foods that Fight Cancer
Mushrooms such as shiitake, maitake, reishi and some Agaricus species fight cancer and improve the immune system because of the presence of certain polysaccharides and a protein called lectin. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer indicated that 'higher dietary intake of mushrooms decreased breast cancer risk in pre- and postmenopausal Chinese women and an additional decreased risk of breast cancer from joint effect of mushrooms and green tea was observed'.

Foods with Healthy Fats

Foods with Healthy Fats, Foods that Fight Cancer
Unsaturated fats that come from plant sources are healthy fats that can decrease the risk of cancer. These fats are liquid at room temperature (unlike hydrogenated oils). Olive oil, canola oil, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, walnut, peanut butter and avocados are good sources of polyunsaturated fats. Results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition showed that polyunsaturated fats reduced the risk for breast cancer in women.

Tips to Healthy Eating for Cancer Prevention

Tips to Healthy Eating for Cancer Prevention, Foods that Fight Cancer
» Stock sufficient amount of fresh or frozen foods to cover for 5 or more servings per day.

» Green beans, berries and cherries can be stored only for a short term in the refrigerator.

» Read labels carefully. If the label reads '100 percent whole wheat / whole grain / whole oats' only then it contains all the beneficial nutrients and fiber.

» Anti-cancer diet that includes 12 ounces (2-4 servings) per week of omega -3 rich fish with low mercury content can give the required anti-cancer effects, especially in women and children.

» Limit meats to 3 ounces and fill up the plate with fruits and vegetables.

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