The Best Foods that Help Fight Cancer
With thousands of new cancer cases being diagnosed every day, it may be hard for most people to accept that eating certain foods in your diet may help reduce your risk.
Other factors contribute to the formation of cancer cells, like genetics, but being at a healthy, normal weight for your age and height has been shown to reduce your risk of getting the disease by about 10-15%.
“As a doctor who specializes in weight management, I have seen numerous studies that show people who are overweight have a higher risk of developing cancer,” says Caroline J. Cederquist, M.D. “This is why including essential nutrition in your diet is so important. Not only can it help you maintain a healthy weight, but it can also help lower your risk of developing other illnesses later in life, including cancer.”
In honor of National Cancer Control Month, bistroMD's founding physician is providing you with a list of foods to include in your diet that may help fight your risk of cancer. She will also explain how these foods provide you with essential nutrition that can help you stay healthy for many years to come.
Wholesome Nutrition from Whole Grains
If you are eating foods that contain “whole grains,” all parts of the grain are included in the food you are eating, which is the germ, bran, and endosperm. Whole grains are essential for better nutrition because they contain complex carbohydrates, a variety of vitamins and minerals, and they are naturally low in fat.
Brown rice is a whole grain, but white rice is not. Most brands of oatmeal contain whole grains, as well as a variety of cereals, breads and pastas.
“Whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and hundreds of natural plant compounds, called phytochemicals, which help protect cells from the types of damage that may lead to cancer,” says Dr. Cederquist.
It’s also been shown that other compounds found in whole grains may help reduce your risk of cancer, including phenols, antioxidants, and lignans (a type of phytoestrogen).
In order to stay healthy, it is recommended that you get between 3-6 servings of whole grains per day, depending on your food choices. However, if you are trying to lose weight, it is better to reduce your intake to about two servings daily, unless you are extremely active.
The Super Side of Soy
Soy is a type of legume, or bean, and it’s found in foods like soybeans, soy milk, tofu, and soy nuts.
It appears that soy actually has some components that are very similar to weak forms of the body’s natural hormones. In light of this information, the effects of soy in the fight against cancer have been studied in subjects with hormonal types of cancer, like breast and prostate.
Other research has shown some conflicting information about soy. Some studies also show that soy can actually promote certain estrogen-dependent cancers, like breast cancer, instead of lowering your risk.
"In order to play it safe with soy, I recommend choosing only non-GMO (genetically modified) soy," advises Dr. Cederquist.
Soy consumption can also add the benefit of protein and other essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals to your daily diet.
Berries for Better Health
Berries are a great source of vitamin C and fiber, and are also a good source of antioxidants.
“All berries, including raspberries and strawberries, are rich in ellagic acid. Studies have shown this phytochemical utilizes several cancer-fighting abilities: It acts as an antioxidant, can deactivate certain carcinogens, and helps slow the reproduction of certain cancer cells,” says Dr. Cederquist.
In certain studies, ellagic acid has also been shown to help reduce the risks of specific cancers including skin, lung, bladder, esophagus, and breast. This specific phytochemical also helps your DNA reproduce properly, which helps prevent the formation of cancer cells.
Always Shop for Non-Starchy Vegetables
Non-starchy vegetables, or cruciferous vegetables, include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale.
“Results from several laboratory studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables help regulate a complex system of bodily enzymes that defend against cancer,” says Dr. Cederquist.
Components of these vegetables have been shown to help stop the growth of cancer cells in various cell tissues, including tumors found in the breast, endometrium, lung, colon, liver, and cervix.
To be healthy, and to help fight your risk of getting cancer, it is recommended that you have at least 2-3 servings of cruciferous vegetables per day.
Even though there is no known cure for cancer yet, you can still be conscious of your health, and help fight the threat of cancer by making more nutritious choices when it comes to the foods included in your diet.
Source: "Foods That Fight Cancer." American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR): Homepage. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. <http:></http:>