Fighting cancer with healthy food

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Shaleika Anderson
  • 8th Medical Operations Squadron
Mounting evidence shows the foods we eat weigh heavily in the war against cancer.

A balanced diet is one of the easiest and most effective ways to promote good health and help protect yourself against cancer. The American Cancer society estimates one-third of all American cancer deaths might be diet-related.

The conclusion is really pretty simple: kick cancer-loving foods to the curb and embrace healthful food. The lot of foods below have the ability to help stave off cancer and some can even help inhibit cancer cell growth or reduce tumor size. Though the list is not complete-there are other anti-cancer edibles-but this features the all-stars and is an excellent starting point.

Avocados are rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that attacks free radicals in the body by blocking intestinal absorption of certain fats. They supply more potassium than bananas and are a strong source of beta-carotene. Scientists also believe avocados may also be useful in treating viral hepatitis (a cause of liver cancer), as well as other sources of liver damage.

Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower have a chemical component called indole-3-carbinol that can combat breast cancer by converting a cancer-promoting estrogen into a more protective variety. Broccoli, especially sprouts, also have the phytochemical sulforaphane, a product of glucoraphanin - believed to aid in preventing some types of cancer, like colon and rectal cancer.

Carrots contain a lot of beta-carotene, which may help reduce a wide range of cancers including lung, mouth, throat, stomach, intestine, bladder, prostate and breast.

Chili peppers and jalapenos contain a chemical, capsaicin, which may neutralize certain cancer-causing substances (nitrosamines) and may help prevent cancers such as stomach cancer.

Garlic has immune-enhancing allium compounds (dialyl sultides) that appear to increase the activity of immune cells that fight cancer and indirectly help break down cancer causing substances. These substances also help block carcinogens from entering cells and slow tumor development.

Grapefruits, like oranges and other citrus fruits, contain monoterpenes, believed to help prevent cancer by sweeping carcinogens out of the body. Some studies show that grapefruit may inhibit the proliferation of breast-cancer cells in vitro. They also contain vitamin C, beta-carotene and folic acid.

Grapes, red contain bioflavonoids, powerful antioxidants that work as cancer preventives. Grapes are also a rich source of resveratrol, which inhibits the enzymes that can stimulate cancer-cell growth and suppress immune response. They also contain ellagic acid, a compound that blocks enzymes that are necessary for cancer cells - this helps slow the growth of tumors.

Nuts contain the antioxidants quercetin and campferol that may suppress the growth of cancers. Brazil nuts contain 80 micrograms of selenium, which is important for those with prostate cancer.

Soy products like tofu contain several types of phytoestrogens -- weak, nonsteroidal estrogens that could help prevent both breast and prostate cancer by blocking and suppressing cancerous changes. There are a number of isoflavones in soy products, but research has shown that genistein is the most potent inhibitor of the growth and spread of cancerous cells.

Teas: Green Tea and Black tea contain certain antioxidants known as polyphenols (catechins) which appear to prevent cancer cells from dividing. Green tea is best, followed by our more common black tea (herbal teas do not show this benefit).

For more information regarding cancer preventative foods and other useful cancer prevention material, visit the American Cancer Society's website at