Healing Kitchen

Cancer Prevention
To help guard against cancer, eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber. Consume generous amounts of fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains each day and include foods high in calcium, carotenoids, catechins, flavonoids, lignans (flaxseed oil), folate, lycopene, selenium, soy isoflavones, and vitamins C, D, and E.

A family of phytochemicals called indoles, found in cruciferous vegetables (such as bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower), not only give these foods their taste, but they also appear to have anti-cancer properties. Studies show that indoles may trigger detoxification enzymes that prevent chemical carcinogens form forming in the body. One type of indole in particular, indole-3-carbinol, has received attention because it seems to stimulate enzymes that make estrogen less effective, a potential help in fighting breast cancer.

In addition to eating a diet rich in nutrients and phytochemicals, it is best to maintain a healthy weight and minimize your intake of saturated fat, junk food, highly processed foods, and salty, smoked, or pickled foods. If you drink, do so in moderation—no more than one drink per day for women, two for men.

We believe that it's possible to manage and/or improve certain conditions through what you eat. When we create "Mega-Recipes" for an ailment, we strive to include the maximum number of the nutrients that are shown to have benefit for that ailment. We also expect the Mega-Recipe to contain at least 25% of recommended intakes for those nutrients. See the list of recipes that have met our criteria for this ailment.

What You Should Eat & Why

Recent studies suggest that individuals who are susceptible to colon cancer are less likely to develop the disease if they follow a calcium-rich diet. The mineral seems to reduce the irritant effects of bile acids and fatty acids in the colon, which, if left unchecked, can cause abnormal cell growth.
Leading Food Sources of calcium: Broccoli, Bok choy, Amaranth, Yogurt, Kale, Soybeans, Salmon, Milk, Tofu, Cheese, fresh, Beans, dried

Carotenoids may inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Studies link high food intakes of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin to a reduced risk for lung cancer. Cryptoxanthin and alpha-carotene have been found to decrease the chance of developing cervical cancer.
Leading Food Sources of carotenoids: Carrots, Spinach, Sweet potatoes, Corn, fresh, Acorn squash, Collard greens, Apricots, Peppers, sweet

The powerful antioxidant properties of catechins neutralize free radicals, which can lead to the development of cancer. In addition, catechins may inhibit the formation of cancer-causing substances in the body, enhance the body’s natural anticancer defenses, and block the growth of cancer cells. Green tea is a leading source of EGCG, a catechin with potent cancer-fighting properties.
Leading Food Sources of catechins: Grapes, Chocolate

Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain a diverse array of flavonoid compounds that help to protect cells against DNA damage. Many flavonoids act as antioxidants, while others stimulate enzymes in the body that combat cancer cell growth. Certain flavonoids are thought to enhance the body’s absorption of vitamin C.
Leading Food Sources of flavonoids: Broccoli, Pomegranates, Limes, Chocolate, Soybeans, Oranges, Lemons, Carrots, Grapefruit, white, Onions, Apples, Tomatoes, Blueberries

flaxseed oil
The lignans in flaxseed oil appear to play a role in protecting against breast, colon, prostate, and perhaps skin cancer.
Leading Food Sources of flaxseed oil: Oil, flaxseed

folic acid
Folic acid, or folate (the form of folic acid found in food), is essential for the proper synthesis and repair of DNA. A low intake of folate may raise the risk of developing cancer.
Leading Food Sources of folic acid: Asparagus, Avocados, Beans, dried, Chick-peas, Soybeans, Lentils, Oranges, Peas, fresh, Turkey, Cabbage, Savoy, Bok choy, Spinach, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Beets

Lycopene appears to be particularly effective at inhibiting prostate cancer. Research conducted at Harvard University found that men who ate 10 or more servings of tomato-based foods a week lowered their risk of prostate cancer by almost 45%. Lycopene may also protect against cancers of the digestive tract, stomach, and lungs.
Leading Food Sources of lycopene: Tomatoes, Grapefruit, pink, Guava

This potent mineral has shown promise in combating several types of cancer. Selenium is thought to have antioxidant properties and is under review for additional cancer-fighting actions.
Leading Food Sources of selenium: Rice, brown, Shrimp, Sunflower seeds, Tuna, Brazil nuts, Eggs, Wheat, Chicken

soy isoflavones
Preliminary studies indicate that regular consumption of soy foods may protect against hormone-related cancers of the breast, prostate, and endometrium. According to one study, women who ate the most soy products and other foods rich in phytoestrogens reduced their risk of endometrial cancer by 54%. Soy products may be especially important for women who have never been pregnant. Overall, cancer researchers are hopeful but recognize that more investigation is needed. They speculate that the isoflavone genistein may block a protein called tyrosine kinase, which promotes the growth and proliferation of tumor cells.
Leading Food Sources of soy isoflavones: Soybeans, Tofu, Soy products

vitamin C
As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C may help fight cancer by protecting healthy cells from free radical damage and inhibiting the proliferation of cancerous cells. Specifically, recent studies have shown that the vitamin may help stave off cancers of the stomach and esophagus by blocking the conversion of nitrates and nitrites into cancer-causing compounds.
Leading Food Sources of vitamin C: Cabbage, red, Potatoes, Strawberries, Kiwi fruit, Tangerines & other mandarins, Peppers, bell, red, Oranges

vitamin D
Some studies indicate that vitamin D may be useful in preventing breast, colon, and prostate cancer. In a clinical trial of 438 men, researchers reported that participants with colon cancer had lower blood levels of vitamin D than those who did not have the disease. It was also found that the men with the highest intake of vitamin D were the least likely to get colon cancer. More studies are needed to support this finding and also to determine if it is applicable to women.
Leading Food Sources of vitamin D: Milk, Salmon, Tuna

vitamin E
Research suggests that vitamin E is associated with a reduced risk of breast, colon, prostate, and possibly other cancers. In addition to its antioxidant actions, vitamin E may enhance the immune system’s ability to neutralize cell damage that can contribute to cancer.
Leading Food Sources of vitamin E: Broccoli, Sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, Peanuts, Avocados, Almonds, Mangoes

Date Published: 05/03/2005
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