Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, with more than ten million people succumbing to it each year. Yet, millions of lives could be saved annually by implementing strategies for prevention, early detection, and treatment. There are a number of lifestyle factors that people can adopt to lessen their cancer risk, such as exercising and stopping smoking. In addition, there are healthy foods that can help us all to prevent cancer. In this article, we reveal eleven such healthy cancer-preventing foods that you should add to your diet.
Note: Although the food recommendations to follow have been sourced from world-renowned research institutions, medical professionals, and other recognized authorities, the author is not a medical doctor. There is no guarantee that you will prevent cancer by following a healthy diet along the lines of the recommendations outlined below. You should consult your doctor for any advice regarding cancer treatment.
Cancer Risk Factors
Researchers have identified a number of risk factors that make a person more likely to develop cancer. Some of them, like old age and family history, are beyond our control. However, there are others, known as lifestyle factors, that we can control. Here are four lifestyle cancer risk factors that you need to be aware of:
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Exposure to radiation
Eleven Foods to Help Fight Cancer
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which is a free-radical-fighting antioxidant. It has the ability to stop free radicals from attaching to healthy cells and corrupting them. As such, lycopene has been shown to help prevent lung and stomach cancer. There is also some evidence that it may help to reduce a person’s risk of developing pancreatic, colorectal, esophageal, breast, and cervical cancer.
To increase your lycopene intake, you should eat more tomatoes, guavas, watermelon, and pink grapefruit.
Learn about National Cancer Prevention Month.
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Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The National Center for Biotechnology Information has identified a link between omega-3 fatty acids and reduction of breast cancer. Omega-3s are also known to reduce inflammation, which may reduce cancer risk. The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are eggs, cold water fish like salmon and mackerel, and nuts and seeds such as walnuts and flaxseeds.
Garlic contains sulfur-based compounds that may help to stop cancer-causing compounds from taking hold in the body. Garlic also helps fight against all types of bacteria. This includes H. pylori, which has been linked to stomach cancer. Garlic has also been specifically identified in helping to reduce colon cancer.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you should focus on getting your fats from plant-based rather than animal-based sources in order to reduce your cancer risk. This is especially so in the case of prostate cancer. The Mayo Clinic recommends favoring fats from olive oil, nuts, and seeds rather than red meats, butter, and lard.
Increase Fiber Intake
The National Cancer Institute recommends getting a minimum of thirty-five grams of fiber each day. According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), increased fiber intake will help to reduce the risk of breast, colon, esophageal, rectum, stomach, and prostate cancers. Five great sources of fiber are berries, avocado, apples, whole grains, and potatoes.
Eat Raw Vegetables
Increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables will provide a plethora of micronutrients that will help to reduce your risk of cancer. When you eat raw fruits and vegetables, you are able to preserve the maximum amount of nutrients to get the full benefit of these foods. Some of the cancer-fighting compounds found in fruits and vegetables include phenols, indoles, cumines, and flavones.
Here are half a dozen of the best cancer prevention fruits and vegetables:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Mustard Greens
Green tea is an extremely healthy beverage that is high in antioxidants. It has specifically been linked with the reduction in breast cancer symptoms due to its ability to limit vascular-endothelial-growth-factor-inhibiting properties.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends increasing consumption of beans in order to reduce cancer risk. This is due to their being rich in fiber, protein folate, and Vitamin B. Dry beans are especially beneficial as they are a resistant starch that healthy bacteria are able to use to produce short chain fatty acids that have been shown to help protect colon cells from carcinogens.
Pomegranate juice has been identified as a cancer fighter due to its being rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants will seek out and destroy prostate cancer cells. Research has also shown that pomegranate juice can reduce the supply of blood to tumors. This starves the tumor, making them smaller and potentially killing them.
In one study on mice, pomegranate juice extract was seen to slow down the growth of lung tumors.
The United States National Cancer Institute recommends increasing your intake of antioxidants as a cancer preventative. Antioxidants have the ability to neutralize free radicals that corrupt healthy cells and lead to the development of cancer. Supplementing with antioxidants will ensure that you are getting a healthy intake, and has been associated with a reduction in the risk of developing gastric cancer. You should also eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grains to get your antioxidants from whole foods.
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Avocados provide a whole host of health benefits due to their beneficial nutrient makeup. When it comes to cancer prevention, the star of the avocado nutrient profile is glutathione, one of the most powerful antioxidants. Glutathione attacks free radicals to prevent them from destroying healthy cells.
Avocados contain beta carotene, which is another powerful cancer fighter. This fruit has also been identified with the reduction of viral hepatitis, which can cause liver cancer.
Adjusting your food intake to include cancer-risk-reducing foods will help you to achieve optimal health. Of course, doing so is no guarantee that you will not get cancer. However, by combining a cancer preventing diet with other lifestyle factors that have been shown to reduce your risk, such as exercising and stopping smoking, you will increase your odds of staying cancer free.
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