Every year, almost 11 million people receive a cancer diagnosis. Science hasn't developed a cure, but it has discovered many cancer-causing substances and those that thwart its growth. According to The American Institute for Cancer Research, there are foods that reduce your cancer risk directly and indirectly. Those that reduce risk directly contain cancer-fighting compounds, while those that act indirectly will help with weight control and other conditions that raise your cancer risk. A risk-reducing diet adds cancer-fighting foods while limiting red meat, processed foods and refined sugar. Luckily, this doesn't mean going hungry.
The Reality Of Foods That Reduce Your Cancer Risk - Do They Really Help?
Evidence suggests that a plant-based diet may be the solution to some cancers. Well-known British author Ann Cameron was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2013 - but shunned post-surgery chemotherapy. Instead, she consumed 5 pounds of juiced carrots every day. Without making other dietary changes, her follow-up CT scan showed shrinking tumors and smaller lymph nodes. Though anecdotal, this evidence points to the cancer-fighting nutrients in brightly colored fruits and vegetables; it suggests that you can fight cancer directly simply by adding color to your meals.
Adding nuts and berries reduces your risk even further whilst also making you feel full sooner. These foods can be specific, meaning they block some cancers while ignoring others. Some foods are effective against breast and bladder cancer while others may fight cancers of the throat and colon. We explore some foods that reduce your cancer risk simply by incorporating them into your everyday diet:
1. Cruciferous Vegetables
This category of non-starchy vegetables appears as cabbage, Collard greens and Brussels sprouts or the tightly packed heads of broccoli and cauliflower. These foods have carotenoids, which research shows to be effective against mouth and throat cancers. High in vitamin K, vitamin C and manganese, many of these vegetables go well with a healthy dip.
Associated with good eyesight, carrots have some of the same compounds found in other foods that reduce your cancer risk. They also have polyacetylenes, cancer-fighting compounds found in only one other plant: ginseng. Studies have shown that polyacetylenes inhibit precancerous lesion growth.
Refined sugar feeds cancer cells, so replacing it with honey makes sense. However, honey has other substances that trigger cell apoptosis, also known as cell death. With honey, cancer cells die while leaving neighboring cells undisturbed. Honey impedes cancer's spread and speeds tumor destruction while suppressing chronic inflammation. Extracts are effective against colon and bladder cancer, but the flowers that bees source can change honey's anti-cancer profile. Dark honey has higher phenol concentrations than other varieties.
Their fiber, pectin, helps gut bacteria produce anti-cancer compounds and makes applesauce handy for cutting calories in baked goods. Apples have procyanidins, compounds that kill cancer cells and are also found in cocoa and red wine. Rats fed “apple water” after exposure to carcinogens had half the pre-cancerous lesions seen in exposed rats that did not drink the apple water.
5. Cherries and Berries
Tart or sweet, a high level of antioxidants gives them their vibrant colors. A cherry's dietary fiber eases weight control, preventing the obesity associated with cancers of the esophagus, kidney, thyroid and gall bladder. Beyond weight control, the fiber also stimulates intestinal bacteria to secrete substances that protect against colon cancer. Like most foods that reduce your cancer risk, strawberries and raspberries have high levels of ellagic acid. Scientists found that ellagic acid fights skin, lung, esophageal and lung cancers. Blueberries have an extremely powerful antioxidant called anthocyanosides. Cranberries are high in dietary fiber, which suppresses colorectal cancer. In 2015, Ohio State University research showed that black raspberries - not to be confused with blackberries - have antioxidants that slow oral cancer by penetrating tumor walls.
In addition to antioxidants, soybeans, soy milk and Tofu contain phenolic acids, which may inhibit cancer's spread. Its protein makes soy a good meat substitute, but its isoflavones compete with the more potent estrogen the body produces. Isoflavones inhibit the estrogen-dependent tumor growth of breast cancer. The Shanghai Women's Health study revealed that women who consumed soy every day reduced their adult cancer risk by 60 percent. Another study followed 97,275 women who drank soy milk daily and found their risk of ovarian cancer lowered.
Packed with nutrients, this fruit is considered a superfood. However, it's the oleic acid that makes avocados one of the foods that lower your cancer risk. Research indicates that the fat in avocados protects you from acute myeloid leukemia (AML) by targeting the stem cells that turn into cancer cells at maturity. In addition to fighting leukemia, an avocado's fiber protects against colorectal cancers and those associated with obesity.
Studies have shown that drinking four or more caffeinated cups of coffee a day reduces oral and uterine cancers. Drinking six cups a day can lower your prostate, brain and breast cancer risks. A study at Boston's Brigham and Women Hospital found that coffee drinkers were less likely to develop basal cell carcinomas, a form of skin cancer. Men can lower their prostate cancer risk by drinking five cups a day, but both genders can lower their liver cancer risks with three or more cups a day.
9. Olive oil
When cooking foods that reduce your cancer risk, use olive oil. Olive oil contains a polyphenol called oleocanthal that blocks cancer growth in laboratory tests. The oil's oleuropein makes cancer cells commit suicide, and a study in 2015 showed that olive oil lowers breast cancer risk by 62 percent. Another compound in olive oil, squalene, may fight skin cancer. Participants in the 2015 study consumed four tablespoons of olive oil per day.
Eating buckwheat reduces the inflammation that may trigger cancer's growth. Its extract is poisonous to cells associated with breast, liver and stomach cancers. While you may be familiar with buckwheat pillows, you can also enjoy its anti-cancer properties in buckwheat honey and buckwheat noodles.
You can reduce your breast cancer risk eating two cups of mushrooms daily. Mushrooms help regulate estrogen levels, starving cancer cells that need estrogen to live. They contain lectins that can recognize cancer cells and disrupt cancer cell division, with beta-glucan that augments the immune response. Some experts say you should avoid eating raw mushrooms, but cooking does not alter their dietary benefits.
According to the International Journal of Cancer, eating salmon can help men cut their risk of prostate cancer by 57 percent. Salmon and other fatty fish have omega-3 fatty acids that also protect against breast cancer by fighting inflammation.
13. Brazil nuts
Selenium is an antioxidant that supports thyroid function, enhances immune response and boosts sperm motility. Brazil nuts are nature's selenium warehouse, containing the highest concentrations in nature. Increased selenium is associated with a lower risk of stomach, bladder, lung and prostate cancers.
14. Milled Foods That Reduce Your Cancer Risk
Milled or ground flaxseed is an omega-3 fat-rich food that many people sprinkle on their morning bowl of cereal. Flaxseed has substances that inhibit the body's normal estrogen production, starving breast cancers and slowing their growth. Because it takes four or more tablespoons to reap its protective benefits, consider adding it to recipes, sprinkling it on desserts and using it like breadcrumbs.