Nobody knows what causes cancer, but lifestyle and genetic can make increase your risk. So, the key is prevention. Don’t smoke or drink, exercise regularly, and power up your body’s defenses with good nutrition. Some foods also have cancer-fighting properties. These can reduce your risk and make you feel great right now.
Studies have show that beta-carotene can help reduce your cancer risk. You can find it in yellow, red and deep green vegetables. Load up on carrots, pumpkins and apricots. Try combining carrots and apples (rich in quercitin, a powerful anti-oxidant) in a healthy and refreshing shake.
It is also possible to get beta-carotene supplements, but the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (December, 2004) discourages use. “Not only do beta-carotene supplements not prevent lung cancer in people at high risk for the disease, they appear to increase rates of the disease, particularly among smokers.” There are no negative effects for non-smokers.
Oily fish like herring, salmon and mackerel are rich in three nutrients that lower cancer risk: Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and long-chain Omega-3. Plus, fish is a much healthier protein source than red meat, which can increase your risk for cancer and heart disease.
Try to get a cod liver oil supplement, since you’re unlikely to consume the 1,000 milligrams recommended for ‘significant’ cancer protection (that’s the equivalent of a kilo of fish a day!)
3. Pumpkin seeds
These are rich in Vitamin E, which protects your immune cells from free radicals and helps stunt cancer growth. Ideally, you should get 300 to 600 milligrams of Vitamin E a day. Take a supplement, and load up on green vegetables and soya. A great way to beat cancer first thing in the morning? Sprinkle 5 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds on your cereal, which immediately gives you 20 milligrams. Almonds (great on salads) are also a delicious source.
4. Red peppers
This is one of the best sources of Vitamin C, which boosts your immune system and helps to neutralize toxins. While most people associate Vitamin C with citrus fruits, you can get 250 milligrams of it from red peppers (nearly four times more than you’ll get from an orange). Serve red peppers with raw broccoli (175 milligrams) in a crunchy salad for a double-defense against cancer.
5. Brazil Nuts
Just six nuts will give you your daily recommended dosage of the anti-cancer agent selenium (200 micrograms). You could get the same amount from eight slices of wholemeal bread, but that’s a lot of sandwiches to eat in a day. Other great sources to sneak into your diet: large chicken breasts, organic eggs, tuna and tomatoes.
For centuries, folk medicine has used mushrooms to treat a variety of diseases. Research from the last 50 years seems to indicate that these can also be a powerful defense against cancer, inhibiting tumor growth and enhancing the immune systems. At your next supermarket trip, grab a few handfuls of Shiitake, Maiitake and button mushrooms. Use them in Oriental stir fries, salads, pasta and noodle dishes.
Or for a power-packed, anti-cancer meal, sauté mushrooms with tofu and oyster sauce. Tofu contains genestein, a particularly powerful against hormonal cancer because it blocks the receptor sites on the cell surface. Soya lecithin (found in soya milk) makes cell membranes stronger, and lowers the fat in the liver.
A study done by the Louisiana State University has discovered that oysters can be particularly effective in preventing cancer (particularly breast cancer).
Apparently these contain ceramide, which prevent tumors from getting nutrients from blood. This means cancer cells can’t multiply, and will remain ‘harmless’ for many years. The study also showed that ceramides kill cancer cells without damaging normal cells.
Ten servings of tomatoes a week can lower your risk for prostrate cancer by 40%. It’s also effective against preventing lung, colon, cervix and breast cancer. The super-ingredient is lycopene (also found in strawberries, carrots and peaches) but tomatoes are the best source.
Lycopene is one of the few nutrients that’s more effective when it’s cooked. Just add tomato soup and tomato-based sauces to your weekly menu.
Cruciferous vegetables contain fiber (which help flush out the toxins in your body) and indole (which helps prevent estrogen imbalances, which have been linked to breast, brain, prostrate, and colorectal cancers).
Cabbage is an excellent source (and easy to include in a number of dishes!) but you can also load up on kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts. Another bonus to broccoli: it’s been known to help detoxify the liver and lower your risk for stomach cancer tumors.
Garlic contains a number of chemicals that have been known to attack cancer cells, such as selenium and tryptophan. Some researchers believe that it can help prevent cancer from spreading, since it cuts off the blood supply to tumors. (A health bonus: it can help lower your blood pressure, too!)