Monday, February 9, 2015

Eating for Good Health: Anti-Cancer Foods

Estimates are that over 14 million people worldwide develop one of over 100 different forms of cancer each year. There are about 8 million deaths from cancer each year. Most of us know family or friends who have developed cancer at some point in their life. The worldwide economic impact of cancer has been estimated at over $1.5 trillion dollars each year.  So, what can we do to reduce our chances of getting cancer?

The Basics

Studies have concluded that as much as 22% of all cancers are related to the use of tobacco in various forms. So, the first rule in avoiding cancer is DO NOT USE TOBACCO in any form. Other factors to reduce the risk of developing cancer include eating a healthy diet (plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables), being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting adequate sleep on a consistent basis.

Eating to Prevent Cancer

Generally speaking, eating healthy to avoid cancer includes plenty of fresh fruits & vegetables, fatty fish, consuming meat in moderation, and avoiding fried foods and brunt/charred meats. In addition, many foods, herbs, and spices contain antioxidants, phytochemicals, bioflavonoids, and other anti-cancer compounds that may help reduce the risk of developing cancer. Here is a partial list of anti-cancer foods:

Cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens - broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, radishes, rutabagas, kohlrabi, kale, turnip greens & roots, mustard greens, collard greens, swiss chard, spinach, and watercress - contain high amounts of antioxidants and phytochemicals, including glucosinolates, thought to prevent or inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Berries and grapes - strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and red/purple grapes (their bioflavonoids are concentrated in the skins, which give them their color - white, green, or yellow grapes have much less of these compounds). 

Citrus fruits - oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, lemons, and limes - are high in vitamins, bioflavonoids, and other phytochemicals that guard against cancer.

Teas - all teas (black, green, white) contain antioxidants called catechins, which may inhibit cancer cells. Avoid adding sugar to your tea.

Fatty fishes (includes salmon, tuna, trout, herring, sardines, and mackerel) should be consumed 2 - 4 times a week for their omega-3s.

High fiber foods, such as legumes (beans, peas) and whole grains have been shown in various studies to reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Other foods, herbs, spices: Asian mushrooms, tomatoes, celery, parsley, turmeric, garlic, onions, leeks, sweet potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, fennel, cumin, ginger, oregano, cayenne peppers, and avocados, are all highly nutritious and contain anti-cancer compounds. 

Mushrooms for Cancer Prevention

The following is a health tip from Dr. Andrew Weil

There are many ways to help lower your risk of cancer; one is to incorporate medicinal mushrooms into your diet and health regime. The four fungi below are great choices to add to your meals, or to take in supplement form as cancer-preventive measures:

  1. Maitake (Grifola frondosa). This delicious mushroom provides anti-cancer, anti-viral and immune-enhancing properties, and may also reduce blood pressure and help regulate blood sugar. Find it dried or fresh in Japanese markets, gourmet stores or upscale supermarkets.
  2. Shiitake (Lentinula edodes). The shiitake has been found to have immune modulating, anti-viral and cholesterol-reducing properties. Certain extracts of shiitake mushrooms are used in Japan as adjunctive therapy to strengthen the immunity of cancer patients during chemotherapy and radiation. Find it - fresh or dried - in grocery stores and Asian markets.
  3. Agaricus (Agaricus blazei). This medicinal mushroom has anti-tumor and anti-viral activity, and is widely used by cancer patients in Japan and Brazil. You can get it as a culture or in extract form from Fungi Perfecti: visit
  4. Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum). Too woody and bitter to eat, reishi mushrooms are available in tea bags, capsules and liquid extracts. Animal studies have shown that reishi improves immune function and inhibits the growth of some malignant tumors. It also acts as a natural anti-inflammatory agent.

NOTE: Information provided in this article is not meant to diagnose or treat anyone, but rather is intended only as general advice for healthy living. If you suspect you may have cancer, please consult with a medical doctor as soon as possible


Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal

8 Indian Spices That Prevent Cancer

Dr. Andrew Weil

American Cancer Society