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February 4 is World Cancer Day. We bring you the dozen foods that will help you fight cancer.
According to the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), plant-based foods offer protective effects against a variety of cancers, including that of the esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, ovary, endometrium and the prostate gland.
Experts suggest that a person suffering from cancer should focus on healthy foods that are high in protein and calories to provide energy. During the cancer treatment which includes procedures like radiation, hormone therapy, chemotherapy and surgeries, it is very important to maintain energy and a healthy immune system to fight against the disease. The chances of success may increase if cancer fighting foods are included in the diet.
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Fiber protects and helps in clearing off the disease causing wastes and toxins from your gastrointestinal tract. It promotes weight loss by making you feel fuller for longer. Being obese or overweight will put you in a greater risk for cancer.
These fruits are rich in glutathione, a powerful anti-oxidant that attacks the free radicals in the body by blocking the intestinal absorption of certain fats. They also supply potassium (more than bananas) and are strong sources of beta-carotene.
Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts contain cancer fighting anti-oxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin. 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 and especially sprouts have the phytochemical called sulforaphane, a product of glucoraphanin, which is believed to aid in preventing some types of cancer, like that of the colon and the rectum. Scientists have recently estimated that approximately 30 to 40 percent of all cancers can be averted if people eat more fruits, vegetables and plant-based foods while minimizing the intake of high-fat, high-calorie edibles.
Research have found that falcarinol, a fatty alcohol, found in carrots can reduce the risk of cancer. Moreover, beta carotene present in carrots helps to reduce the risks of a wide range of cancers including that of the lung, mouth, throat, stomach, intestine, bladder, prostate and the breast.
According to the researchers at the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences (DIAS), isolated cancer cells grow more slowly when exposed to falcarinol.
5. Chili Peppers and Jalapenos
These vegetables contain a chemical called capsaicin which may neutralize certain cancer-causing substances (nitrosamines) and may help prevent stomach cancer.
6. Allium Vegetables
A 2002 study published in the "Journal of the National Cancer Institute," stated that the intake of allium vegetables like garlic, onions, chives and leeks can significantly lower the risk of prostate cancer. These vegetables contain immune-enhancing allium compounds (dialyl sultides) that appear to increase the activity of the immune cells that fight cancer.
These compounds help in blocking carcinogens from entering into the cells apart from slowing down the development of tumors. Another study in china has shown the protective effect of the immune-boosting allium vegetables against both stomach and esophageal cancers. A study of 41,000 women in Iowa found that eating garlic for at least once a week reduced the risk of colon cancer by 35 percent.
Tomatoes contain Lycopene, an anti-oxidant known for its anti-cancer properties. Recent studies have proved that an increased intake of lycopene can help reduce the risk of breast, prostate, pancreas and colorectal cancers.
One such study at Harvard University found that men who include tomatoes in their meals twice a week can reduce their risk of developing prostate cancer by one-third compared to men who do not consume tomatoes.
8. Soy Products
These foods are rich in nutrients especially in several types of phytoestrogens -- weak, non-steroidal estrogens -- that can help prevent both breast and prostate cancer by blocking and suppressing the cancerous changes. A study has shown that the intake of soy protein by cancer patients can lead to the lowest mortality rate along with the lower probability of recurrence.
Turmeric, containing curcumin, is the main ingredient in Indian cooking. And curcumin is a potential cancer fighter. Studies have shown that it can suppress the transformation, proliferation and the invasion of cancerous cells.
Grapes contain bioflavonoids, the powerful anti-oxidants that work as cancer preventives. Grapes are also rich sources of resveratrol, a natural phenol, which inhibits the enzymes that can stimulate cancer-cell growth and suppress the immune response.
11. Berries and Raspberries
These fruits are rich in ellagic acid, one of the most powerful anti-oxidants which help in preventing the growth of cancer cells. Studies at the Ohio State University showed that animals whose diets are supplemented with black raspberries had a 60% reduction in the tumors of the esophagus and up to 80 percent reduction in colon tumors.
12. Green Tea and Black Tea
These teas are rich in polyphenols (catechins) which are known for preventing cancer cells from dividing. According to a report in the July 2001 issue of the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, these polyphenols -- abundant in green tea, red wine and olive oil -- may protect against various types of cancer.
A healthy diet and inclusion of these specific cancer fighting foods may help an individual in his recovery process. But side by side, he has to adopt a healthy lifestyle as well! This will require him to stay away from smoking and drinking. These are the two practices which increase the risk of cancer.