Keep the Big C at Bay

Photography by: Roni Ramos

Vitamin D Studies have long shown that people living in cloudy climes, where they have less chance to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight, are more prone to cancer. And, while the research is mixed, some suggest that supplementing with D can fend it off. One four-year trial of 1,179 postmenopausal women found that those who took 1,100 IUs of vitamin D3 plus calcium daily “significantly” reduced their all-cancer risk. Not only does D promote “apoptosis,” or programmed cell death, it also appears to keep cancer from breaking apart and spreading once it forms. “People with low D levels have more cancer, and it metastasizes more quickly,” says Pizzorno. Try: Having your D levels tested to determine how much of the vitamin you need. Dose: 500 to 8,000 IUs, depending on your metabolism and how much sun you get (or don’t get).

Turkey tail mushrooms Also known as Trametes versicolor, turkey tail mushrooms contain compounds called beta-glucans, which stimulate anti-tumor messengers in the body and supercharge your body’s immune response, notes Leopold. They also have few side effects (though watch for mushroom allergy), so they may be safe to use alongside chemotherapy. (Just be sure to discuss this with your oncology team, Leopold adds.) Multiple clinical trials from Asia have shown that gastrointestinal and breast cancer patients given turkey tail extracts alongside chemotherapy have better cancer-free survival rates than those who undergo chemotherapy alone. In Japan, where it is widely accepted among oncologists, 25 percent of cancer care costs go to turkey tail cancer therapy. Try: Fungi Perfecti Host Defense Turkey Tail ($32 for 60 capsules; fungi .com) Dose: 1 to 3 tablets daily.

Sulforaphane This compound, found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli sprouts and cabbage, is believed to be particularly helpful in fending off hormone-fueled cancers like those of the breast and prostate. “It stimulates production of enzymes in the liver that help you break down chemicals and excess hormones,” explains Pizzorno. Research is young, but studies from the University of Illinois suggest that as little as three to five servings of steamed broccoli per week can have an anti-cancer effect. Try: Loading up on broccoli and cabbage—or, if you can’t stomach them, look for supplements containing sulforaphane like Natural Factors EstroSense ($29 for 60 capsules; Dose: 200 milligrams daily.