"According to an international report published by the American Cancer Research Institute, 30 per cent to 40 per cent of all cancers are preventable by following a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. What's more, a diet packed with fruits and vegetables is thought to prevent at least 20 per cent of all cancer cases.
While some cancers are caused by smoking and genetic factors that can't be controlled, many others are influenced by what you eat. Fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains contain vitamins, minerals and natural compounds that work together to lower the odds of developing cancer. Antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium destroy free radicals, unstable oxygen molecules formed every day during normal metabolism. Left unchecked, free radicals can damage cells, which may lead to cancer..."
[Wonderful article with a nice list of veggies/fruits and what's cool about them... yet another reason to go vegan (or vegetarian). You can read the full article here or below.]
"Keep cancer (and vampires?) at bay
A diet packed with fruits and veggies may prevent at least 20 per cent of all cancer cases. Pass the garlic ...
It's estimated that 38 per cent of Canadian women and 44 per cent of men will develop cancer during their lifetimes. While there are no guarantees against cancer, overwhelming scientific evidence suggests many cancers are directly related to the lifestyle choices we make. According to an international report published by the American Cancer Research Institute, 30 per cent to 40 per cent of all cancers are preventable by following a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. What's more, a diet packed with fruits and vegetables is thought to prevent at least 20 per cent of all cancer cases.
While some cancers are caused by smoking and genetic factors that can't be controlled, many others are influenced by what you eat. Fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains contain vitamins, minerals and natural compounds that work together to lower the odds of developing cancer. Antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium destroy free radicals, unstable oxygen molecules formed every day during normal metabolism. Left unchecked, free radicals can damage cells, which may lead to cancer.
Plant foods contain hundreds of phytochemicals, naturally occurring substances that can help fend off cancer by preventing cell damage, inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, and preventing the build up of carcinogens (cancer-causing substances).
When it comes to cancer prevention, there are no dietary magic bullets. You can't rely on a single food for cancer prevention. Evidence is mounting that the nutrients and phytochemicals in foods interact to help reduce cancer risk. Because these substances work synergistically, it's best to eat a daily variety of foods -- most of which are no farther away than the produce section at your grocery store.
The following foods are brimming with nutrients and phytochemicals, and numerous studies have linked them with cancer prevention. Even better, they're easy to add to your diet.
Dark green leafy vegetables
Spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, rapini, Swiss chard and collard greens provide fibre, folate (a B vitamin essential for the formation of DNA, the genetic material of cells) and many different phytochemicals, including carotenoids and flavonoids. Studies suggest that a higher folate intake is linked with a lower risk of colorectal adenomas (the type of polyps that often lead to colon cancer), colorectal cancer and lung cancer. A study conducted among 29,083 postmenopausal women revealed that those who consumed the most leafy greens were almost one-half as likely to develop ovarian cancer, compared to those who ate the least.
Steam or stir-fry greens, ad them to soups and pasta sauces, or use in salads.
Broccoli, brussel sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and turnip all belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables. These veggies contain many different phytochemicals -- cruciferous chemicals -- which have been linked to a lower risk of lung, stomach, colon, prostate and bladder cancers. In the lab, cruciferous chemicals help regulate enzymes that defend against cancer and stop the growth of cancer cells.
Besides vitamin C and fibre, berries (especially strawberries and raspberries) contain ellagic acid, a natural chemical that acts as an antioxidant, deactivates certain carcinogens and slows the growth of cancer cells. Laboratory studies suggest ellagic acid may help reduce the risk of breast, skin, lung, bladder and esophageal cancers. Blueberries contain potent antioxidants called anthocyanins.
Buy berries fresh, frozen (unsweetened) or dried. Add them to breakfast cereal, smoothies, fruit crumbles, muffin and pancake batters or eat them on their own.
These tiny brown seeds contain fibre, omega-3 fatty acids and phytochemicals called lignans. Short-term human studies suggest a regular intake of flaxseed can alter estrogen metabolism in a way that might offer protection from breast cancer. Whether consuming flaxseed will reduce a woman's risk of breast cancer has yet to be proven. However, studies conducted at the University of Toronto have revealed that a diet supplemented with flaxseed reduced the growth of breast cancer cells in mice.
Add ground flaxseed to breakfast cereals, smoothies, yogurt, applesauce, casseroles and baked good recipes. Aim for one to two tablespoons per day. (Flax oil does not naturally contain lignans, but some manufacturers add them.)
Long revered for its ability to fight infection, scientists are now studying garlic for its anti-cancer effects. The natural chemicals in garlic may guard against cancer by bolstering the immune system, deactivating carcinogens, and inhibiting the growth of certain cancer cells. Large studies have linked garlic consumption with a lower risk of colon cancer and a lower risk of dying from stomach cancer. Some research even suggests garlic may help keep prostate cancer at bay. You don't need a lot of garlic to reap its benefits. Most studies suggest that as little as one or two cloves per week is enough. Add garlic to stir-fries, pasta sauces and salad dressings.
Green tea contains antioxidants called catechins. While both black and green teas contain catechins, green tea has about three times as much as black tea. In the lab, green tea has been shown to slow or prevent the growth of colon, liver, prostate and breast cancer cells. Studies conducted in Asian populations reveal that regular green-tea drinkers have a lower risk of bladder, stomach, colon, pancreatic and esophageal cancers.
Many, but not all studies have linked a higher intake of tomatoes and tomato products with a lower risk of prostate cancer. A recent analysis of 21 studies revealed that men whose diets contained the most cooked tomato products were 19-per-cent less likely to develop prostate cancer. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a natural compound that acts as an antioxidant, helps enzymes detoxify carcinogens, and slows cancer-cell growth.
Preliminary studies also suggest tomato compounds may slow the growth of breast, lung, and endometrial cancer cells. The best sources of lycopene are heat-processed tomato products such as tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, tomato juice, and vegetable cocktail. (Heating converts lycopene to a form that's readily absorbed by the body.)
I'm afraid you can't just take a supplement to lower your risk of cancer. Most studies using supplements have had disappointing results. A few even suggest high doses can be dangerous. Two large trials found that giving beta carotene supplements to smokers actually increased lung cancer risk. (The amount of beta carotene in multivitamins is considered safe.) When it comes cancer prevention, you're best bet is to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains everyday.
Eating to lower your cancer risk also means limiting your consumption of processed meats, like sausage, hot dogs, bacon, and luncheon meats; cutting intake of red meat to no more than three ounces (90 grams) per day; and keeping alcohol to a minimum (no more than seven drinks per week for women; nine for men).
Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based dietitian at the Medcan Clinic, is on CTV's Canada AM every Wednesday. "