A common finding of many different clinical studies is that natural foods, including a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, green leafy vegetables, berries, nuts, herbs and spices, and probiotic foods such as yogurt, are cancer-preventive foods that can help reduce cancer risk Cancer Risk. Multivitamin and herbal supplements with concentrated bioactives and phytochemicals from these foods that provide excessive doses of nutrients have not shown the same benefits as eating natural foods to reduce/prevent cancer and have the potential to cause harm. To prevent or reduce the risk of cancer, eating the right foods is important.
We live in unprecedented times. The ‘C’ word associated with cancer was already one that caused a lot of fear and suffering, and now we have another ‘corona’ to add to that list. As the saying goes, "health is wealth" and good health with a strong immune system is crucial for all of us. In this period of freeze restrictions, when all attention is focused on the pandemic, dealing with the other underlying health issues becomes even more important. Therefore, it is time to focus on a healthy and balanced lifestyle with the right foods, exercise and rest to keep our bodies strong. This blog focuses on the foods we generally use in our diets that can help prevent cancer and boost our immunity.
Cancer by definition is just a normal cell that has mutated and gone crazy causing unrestricted and mass growth of abnormal cells. Cancer cells could potentially metastasize or spread throughout the body and affect normal body function.
There are many factors and causes associated with increased cancer risk, including: Environmental risk factors such as excessive radiation, pollution, pesticides and other cancer-causing chemicals, family and genetic risk factors, diet, nutrition, life -style factors such as smoking, alcohol, obesity, stress. These various factors are associated with an increased risk of various cancers, z. B. Increased risk of melanoma and skin cancer due to excessive sun exposure, risk of colon cancer due to unhealthy and high-fat diet, etc.
As the population ages, the incidence of cancer increases, and despite advances and innovations in cancer treatment, the disease can outsmart all treatment modalities in a large number of patients. Therefore, cancer patients and their loved ones are always on the lookout for alternative natural options, including foods and supplements, to prevent or reduce cancer risk and boost immunity and well-being. And for those already diagnosed and being treated, natural options are being tried with supplements/food/diet to reduce/prevent side effects and recurrence of cancer treatment.
Foods to prevent cancer
Below are classes of natural cancer prevention foods we should include in our balanced diets that can help reduce cancer risk, as supported by scientific and clinical evidence.
Carotenoid-rich foods for cancer prevention
It is well known that we need to consume several servings of fruits and vegetables of different colors every day to get the various nutrients they contain for good health. Brightly colored foods contain carotenoids, a diverse group of natural pigments found in red, yellow, or orange fruits and vegetables. Carrots are rich in alpha and beta carotene; oranges and tangerines contain beta cryptoxanthin, tomatoes are rich in lycopene, while broccoli and spinach are a source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are all carotenoids.
Carotenoids are converted to retinol (vitamin A) in our bodies during digestion. We can also get active vitamin A (retinol) from animal sources such as milk, eggs, liver and fish liver oil. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that is not produced by our bodies and is absorbed through the diet. Therefore, vitamin A foods are key to normal vision, healthy skin, improved immune function, reproduction and fetal development. Experimental data have also provided evidence of beneficial anticancer effects of carotenoids on cancer cell proliferation and growth, as well as antioxidant properties that help scavenge DNA-damaging free radicals and protect cells from becoming abnormal (mutated).
Impact on the risk of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma
Two large, long-term observational clinical trials called the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS) found that participants with the highest average daily vitamin A consumption were reduced by 17% risk of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer. In this study, the source of vitamin A came mainly from eating various fruits and vegetables such as papaya, mango, peaches, oranges, tangerines, peppers, corn, watermelon, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables and not from taking supplements. (Kim J et al., JAMA Dermatol., 2019)
Effects on the risk of colorectal cancer
A recently published study from the University of Southern Denmark analyzed data from over 55,000 Danes in the Diet, Cancer and Health Study. This study found that "a high intake of carrots, equivalent to>32 grams of raw carrot per day, was associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer (CRC)" compared to those who ate no carrots at all. (Deding U et al., Nutrients, 2020) Carrots are rich in carotenoid antioxidants such as alpha-carotene and beta-carotene and also other bioactive compounds that have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Effects on bladder cancer risk
A pooled meta-analysis of many observational clinical studies that examined the association of carotenoids with the risk of bladder cancer in men and women was conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Health Center at San Antonio, and they found a positive impact of carotenoid intake and significantly lower risk of bladder cancer. (Wu S. et al., Adv. Nutr., 2019)
Eating after cancer diagnosis!
No two cancers are the same. Go beyond the usual dietary guidelines for all and make personalized food and supplement choices with confidence.
Cruciferous vegetables for cancer prevention
Cruciferous vegetables belong to the Brassica family of plants, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, pak choi, arugula, kohlrabi, watercress and mustard. Cruciferous vegetables are no less than all superfoods as these are packed with several nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber such as sulforaphane, genistein, melatonin, folic acid, indole-3-carbinol, carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, omega-3 fatty acids and more.
Over the past two decades, the association between cruciferous vegetable consumption and risk of various cancers has been widely studied, and researchers have mostly found an inverse relationship between the two. Many population-based studies have shown a strong association between higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables and reduced cancer risk, including lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, renal cell carcinoma, ovarian cancer, stomach cancer, bladder cancer, and breast cancer (American Institute of Cancer .) Research). A diet rich in cruciferous vegetables can therefore help prevent various types of cancer.
Effects on gastric cancer risk
A clinical study conducted at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York, analyzed questionnaire-based data from patients recruited between 1992 and 1998 as part of the Patient Epidemiology Data System (PEDS). (Morrison MEW et al., Nutr Cancer.,2020) The study reported that a high intake of total cruciferous vegetables, raw cruciferous vegetables, raw broccoli, raw cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts was associated with a 41%, 47%, 39%, 49%, and 34% reduction in the risk of stomach cancer and. They also found no significant association with the risk of stomach cancer when these vegetables are cooked rather than eaten raw.
The chemopreventive property as well as the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-estrogenic properties of cruciferous vegetables can be attributed to their main active compounds/micronutrients such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. Therefore, adding cruciferous vegetables in appropriate amounts to our daily diet can help us achieve health benefits including cancer prevention.
Nuts and dried fruits for cancer prevention
Nuts and dried fruits are popular worldwide and have been part of the human diet since prehistoric times. They are nutrient-rich foods and a good source of health-promoting bioactive compounds. Whether peanuts and peanut butter in the U.S., cashews in India, or pistachios in Turkey, they serve as important healthy snacks and are part of many traditional and new recipes in foodservice around the world. Frequent consumption of nuts and dried fruits is strongly recommended to obtain the full health benefits of the nutrients, bioactives, and antioxidants they contain.
Nuts (almond, Brazil nut, cashew, chestnut, hazelnut, heart nut, macadamia, peanut, pecan, pine nut, pistachio and walnut) contain a number of bioactives and health-promoting compounds. They are highly nutritious and contain macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbohydrates), micronutrients (minerals and vitamins), and a variety of health-promoting phytochemicals, fat-soluble bioactives, and natural antioxidants.
Nuts are particularly known for their role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease due to their favorable lipid profile and low glycemic character. Increased consumption of nuts increases antioxidant defenses and reduces inflammation and has been shown in studies to reduce cancer risk, boost cognitive function, and also reduce the risk of asthma and inflammatory bowel disease, among other benefits. (Alasalver C and Bolling BW, British J of Nutr, 2015)
Effects on gastric cancer risk
Data from the NIH-AARP (National Institute of Health – American Association of Retired Persons) Nutrition and Health Study were analyzed to determine the association between nut consumption and cancer risk based on 15 years of participant follow-up. They found that people with the highest intake of nuts had a lower risk of developing stomach cancer than those who did not consume nuts. (Hashemian M et al., Am J Clin Nutr., 2017) The above association with lower stomach cancer prevalence also applies to high peanut butter consumption. Another independent study in the Netherlands confirmed the results of the NIH-AARP study on the association between high nut and peanut butter consumption and lower risk of stomach cancer. (Nieuwenhuis L and van den Brandt PA, Stomach Cancer, 2018)
Impact on deaths due to cancer
Other studies such as data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study with over 100,000 participants and a follow-up time of 24 and. 30 years also show that increased frequency of nut consumption is associated with lower risk of death from cancer, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and respiratory disease. (Bao Y et al, New Engl. J Med, 2013; Alasalver C and Bolling BW, British J of Nutr, 2015)
Effects on the risk of pancreatic, prostate, stomach, bladder, and colon cancers
A meta-analysis of 16 observational studies analyzed the association between traditional dried fruit consumption and cancer risk (Mossine VV et al., Adv Nutr. 2019). The study found that increasing the intake of dried fruits such as raisins, figs, prunes (dried plums), and dates to 3 to 5 or more servings per week to reduce the risk of cancers such as pancreatic, prostate, stomach, bladder, and colon cancers. Dried fruits are rich in fiber, minerals and vitamins and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, the inclusion of dried fruit as part of our diet can complement fresh fruit and be beneficial for cancer prevention and overall health and well-being.
Herbs and spices for cancer prevention
Garlic for cancer prevention
An allium vegetable along with onions, shallots, scallions and leeks, it is a versatile cooking ingredient commonly used in cuisines around the world. Bioactive compounds such as allyl sulfur, found in garlic, are known to have anti-cancer properties that have the potential to stop the growth of tumor cells by severely stressing their cell division processes.
Garlic and onions are a key ingredient in a popular dish called sofrito in Puerto Rico. A clinical trial showed that women who consumed sofrito more than once a day had a 67% lower risk of breast cancer than those who did not consume it at all (Desai G et al., Nutr Cancer. 2019).
Another clinical trial conducted in China from 2003 to 2010 evaluated raw garlic intake with liver cancer rates. Researchers found that taking raw vegetables such as garlic two or more times a week may be beneficial in preventing liver cancer. (Liu X et al., Nutrients. 2019).
Ginger for cancer prevention
Ginger is a spice used worldwide, especially in Asian cuisine. Ginger contains many bioactive and phenolic compounds, including gingerol. Ginger is traditionally used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine to improve the digestion of food and to treat various types of gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and vomiting, colic, upset stomach, flatulence, heartburn, diarrhea and loss of appetite, etc. used has been shown to be effective against several gastrointestinal cancers including stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, colon cancer and cholangiocarcinoma. (Prasad S and Tyagi AK, Gastroenterol. Res. Pract., 2015)
Berberine for cancer prevention
Berberine, found in several herbs such as barberry, goldenseal, and others, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for its numerous beneficial properties, including anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, immune-boosting, regulating blood sugar and lipids, helping with digestive and gastrointestinal problems, and others. Berberine’s ability to regulate sugar levels, the main fuel source for cancer cell survival, along with its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties make this herbal supplement a potential adjuvant against cancer. There have been many studies on many different cancer cell lines and animal models that have confirmed the anti-cancer effects of berberine.
A recent clinical trial funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China prospectively tested the use of berberine in chemoprevention of colorectal adenomas (formation of polyps in the colon) and colon cancer. This randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled study was conducted in 7 hospital centers in 6 provinces in China. (NCT02226185) The results of this study were that the group taking berberine had a lower recurrence rate of precancerous polyps than the control/placebo group not taking berberine. Therefore, an important finding from this clinical trial is that 0.3 grams of berberine twice daily has been shown to be safe and effective in reducing the risk of precancerous colorectal polyps, and that this may be a possible natural option for individuals who have undergone prior removal of polyps. (Chen YX et al., The Lancet Gastroenterology& Hepatology, January 2020)
In addition, there are many other natural herbs and spices commonly used in our foods/diets, including turmeric, oregano, basil, parsley, cumin, coriander, sage, and many others that contain many health-promoting and cancer-preventing bioactives. Therefore, healthy consumption of natural foods flavored with natural herbs and spices as part of our diet can help prevent cancer.
Yogurt (probiotic foods) for cancer prevention
Many clinical studies have shown a strong association between dietary and lifestyle factors and cancer risk. For example, if a person is a smoker, overweight, or older than 50 years, their risk of developing cancer increases. Thus, a focus on determining which foods and dietary interventions can help reduce/prevent cancer in a more natural way.
Yogurt is extremely popular and accounts for a significant portion of dairy consumption in Europe, and due to its perceived health benefits, rates are also increasing in the United States. Researchers at Vanderbilt University in the U.S., published this year in 2020, analyzed two large-scale studies to determine the effect of yogurt in reducing the risk of developing colorectal cancer. The two studies examined were the Tennessee Colorectal Polyp Study and the Johns Hopkins Biofilm Study. The yogurt consumption of each participant in these studies was determined through detailed questionnaires administered daily. Analysis found that frequency of yogurt consumption was associated with a trend toward a lower risk of colorectal cancer. (Rifkin SB et al., Br. J. Nutr. 2020 )
The reason why yogurt has proven to be medically beneficial is because of the lactic acid contained in yogurt due to the fermentation process, and the lactic acid forming bacteria. This bacterium has shown its ability to strengthen the body’s mucosal immune system, reduce inflammation, and decrease levels of secondary bile acids and carcinogenic metabolites. In addition, yogurt consumed around the world does not seem to have harmful effects and tastes good, therefore a good nutritional addition to our diet.
A cancer association or cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event. Despite improvements in diagnosis and prognosis, treatments and cures, there is still much fear, uncertainty and a constant anxiety about recurrence. For family members, there may now be a familial association with cancer as well. Many individuals are using sequencing-based genetic testing to identify the specific cancer gene mutations in their DNA and determine their own risk factors. This awareness is leading to increased and stricter cancer surveillance, and many are opting for more aggressive options such as surgical removal of possible organs such as the breast, ovaries and uterus because of some of these risks.
A common theme underlying dealing with cancer association or cancer diagnosis is lifestyle and dietary changes. In this time when information is available, there is a very high volume of internet searches for foods and diets to prevent cancer. In addition, this demand for finding the right natural alternatives to reduce/prevent cancer has led to a flood of products beyond foods, most of which are unvalidated and unscientific, but based on the vulnerability and need of the population seeking alternatives to maintain good health and reduce their risk of cancer.
The bottom line is that there is no shortcut to alternative options for reducing/preventing cancer, and random foods or supplement consumption may not be helpful. Taking multivitamin supplements with high doses of all the vitamins and minerals we need (instead of food in a balanced diet) or taking a range of herbal and plant-based supplements with concentrated bioactive and phytochemicals, all marketed with amazing benefits and anti-cancer properties , as part of our diet, is not a cancer prevention solution.
The simplest and easiest of all is a balanced diet of natural foods that include vegetables, fruits, berries, greens, nuts, herbs and spices, and probiotic-enriching foods like yogurt. Natural foods provide us with the necessary nutrients and bioactives to reduce our risk of cancer and other complex diseases. Unlike food, an excess of these bioactive compounds in the form of supplements has not been shown to be beneficial in preventing/ reducing cancer and has the potential to cause harm. Therefore, a focus on a balanced diet of natural foods tailored to lifestyle and other family and genetic risk factors, along with adequate exercise, rest, and avoidance of unhealthy habits such as smoking, alcohol consumption is the best means of cancer prevention and healthy aging! !
What foods you eat and what supplements you take is a decision you make. Your decision should take into account the cancer gene mutations, the cancer, ongoing treatments and supplements, allergies, lifestyle information, weight, height, and habits.
Addon’s nutrition planning for cancer is not based on internet research. It automates decision making for you based on molecular science implemented by our scientists and software engineers. Whether or not you want to understand the underlying biochemical molecular pathways, nutritional planning in cancer requires this understanding.
Start planning your diet NOW by answering questions about the name of cancer, genetic mutations, ongoing treatments and supplements, allergies, habits, lifestyle, age group and gender.