You Can Prevent Cancer

You Can Prevent Cancer

Certain foods supply chemical compounds that can work against cancer using the same mechanisms as pharmaceutical drugs, says David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D., author of Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life (Viking, 2008). Make these cancer-busting changes to your diet today:

YOUR GOAL: Experts suggest consuming five to nine servings daily; one serving equals one medium-sized fruit, three quarters of a cup of juice, one cup of raw leafy vegetables, or one half cup raw or cooked veggies. Focus on the most powerful cancer-fighting groups: cruciferous vegetables (bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage), allium vegetables (chives, garlic, leeks, onions, shallots), and berries.
EVIDENCE: Hundreds of studies show that phytochemicals in these superfoods help protect against cancer in several ways. For example, ellagic acid in berries may help slow the growth of blood vessels feeding a tumor. Sulfur compounds in garlic reduce the carcinogenic effect of overcooked meats and promote cell death in colon, breast, and lung cancer. Antioxidants can protect the cell membrane from damage.

“Ellagic acid in berries helps block carcinogens and slows the growth
of blood vessels that feed tumors.” —David Servan-Schreiber, M.D.,
Ph.D., author of
Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life

YOUR GOAL: Eat two or more servings per week of salmon, sardines, and mackerel—or ground flaxseeds. A serving is one ounce of cooked fish, or one half ounce of flaxseeds.
EVIDENCE: A 2009 study of more than 34,000 women in Norway who followed a typical Western diet found those who consumed the lowest amount of fatty fish had a significantly higher risk of developing breast cancer. (Those who consumed high amounts of alcohol and low amounts of fish had a higher risk of all cancer types.) Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce lung, breast, colon, and prostate cancer cells in laboratory studies.

YOUR GOAL: Aim for three servings per day of foods like wild rice, quinoa, whole wheat, and oats. One serving is a slice of whole wheat bread, or one half cup of cooked rice, cereal, or pasta.
EVIDENCE: Dozens of studies support whole grains’ cancer-fighting abilities. Grains contain phytoestrogens, which are thought to counteract the growth of hormone-related cancers, and oligosaccharides, a fermentable carbohydrate that may protect against colon cancer by lowering pH levels in the colon. Whole grains also reduce blood sugar levels (which helps fight certain cancers), and makes elimination more efficient.

YOUR GOAL: Drink two to four cups of green tea (steeped for five minutes) every day to reduce your risk of breast and other cancers, says Lynne Eldridge, M.D., author of Avoiding Cancer One Day at a Time (Beaver’s Pond Press, 2006).
EVIDENCE: Last year, a study found the antioxidant in green tea called EGCG significantly slowed breast cancer growth in mice. EGCG helps reduce the growth of new blood vessels needed for tumors to develop.

YOUR GOAL: Take one teaspoon of turmeric with each meal, say many alternative health practitioners.
EVIDENCE: Animal studies show turmeric has anti-cancer properties. Curcumin (the anti-inflammatory compound that gives turmeric its yellow color) may prevent and slow breast, stomach, and other cancers.

YES. If possible, eat less of the foods listed here.
RED MEAT: Beef, pork, and lamb contain hormones and acids linked to colorectal and other cancers. Limit your intake to 18 ounces (of freerange, grass-fed meat) a week, and eliminate charred meats like grilled steak, which contain additional carcinogens. Avoid meats with sodium nitrate (bacon, hot dogs, and ham slices), which the body may convert into a carcinogen.
REFINED CARBS: Weed out white flour and refined sugar, which cause blood glucose to soar, triggering inflammation and insulin-like growth factor (IGF), a risk factor for breast cancer.
“BAD” FATS: Skip omega-6 fats (sunflower, safflower, corn, and soybean oils), trans fats (hydrogenated oils, margarine), and saturated fats (from animals or whole milk dairy products); they contain compounds linked to cancers.
ALCOHOL: Too much alcohol increases your cancer risk: Limit yourself to one drink a day.