Important Anti-cancer Foods

Many doctors and scientists believe that many cancers could be prevented with a good diet. Here are a few foods that have been shown to decrease the incidence of cancer.

Tomatoes are loaded with vitamin C. They also contain lycopene, which may explain a recent popular Italian study finding that people who ate raw tomatoes at least seven times per week halved their risk of several cancers as compared to those who ate tomatoes no more than once a week.

Tomatoes are also rich in coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid, which hook onto nitric oxides in the foods we eat and drive them out of the body before they can form cancer-causing chemicals called notrosamines. Tomatoes and broccoli together have been shown to decrease the growth of tumors in prostate cancer.

Some controversy exists regarding the effects of tomatoes on reducing the risk for cancer as recent research in the May, 2007 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention showed that lycopene did not prevent cancer of the prostate. In fact the study also showed that beta carotene was associated with more aggressive prostate cancer. So you can see there are conflicting results regarding tomatoes and cancer.

Oranges and Lemons
Oranges and lemons contain limonene which raises level of naturally occurring enzymes thought to break down carcinogens and stimulate cancer-killing immune cells. Citrus fruits also contain glucarase, which inactivates carcinogens. One study showed that limonene caused regression of tumors in breast cancer. (1)

Grapes and Raspberries
Grapes and raspberries contain ellagic acid which blocks the body’s production of enzymes used by cancer cells. Apples may get prime billing in folklore, but researchers say grapes are packed with chemicals such as phenols and antioxidants that may prevent blood clots. And a natural fungicide found in grapes called reveratrol slows the buildup of LDL cholesterol.

Garlic and Onions
In China, people who eat large amounts of garlic and onions cut their risk of stomach caner by as much as 40%. A study published in the January, 1994 issue of The American Journal of Epidemiology examined the diets of more than 41,000 women in Iowa and showed that those who added garlic to their diet at least once per week reduced their risk of colon cancer by 35%. The chemical thought to be responsible for the effects of garlic and onions is allium.

Chili Peppers
Chili peppers contain capsaicin. Capsaicin may neutralize the carcinogenic effect of cancer causing nitrosamines. It may also block the carcinogens in cigarette smoke from locking onto DNA. The hotter the pepper the more capsaicin it contains.

Soybeans are rich in a chemical called genistein. Genistein fights cancer in several ways. One way is that it looks like estrogen and occupies the binding sites for estrogen. It also may prevent small blood vessels from forming around tumors.

Broccoli and Cabbage
These vegetables contain enzymes and indoles. Indoles affect the metabolism of estrogen, prompting the body to make benign forms of the hormone that inhibits the growth of breast cancer.

The American diet which is so high in fats, meats and dairy products is in dire need of an overhaul. Adding or increasing the amounts of these foods is an important step in reducing the risk of cancer.

1. Jill D. Haag, Mary J. Lindstrom and Michael N. Gould: Limonene-induced Regression of Mammary Carcinomas. Cancer Research 52, 4021-4026, July 15, 1992

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