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Discover the 20 best foods to prevent cancer.
We spend our lives looking for a remedy against cancer when in our garden we have the best protectors. We analyze the properties of 20 fruits and vegetables and their protective role
“40% of all male tumors and 60% of all female tumors are related to food and more than 30% of cancer deaths are due to this same cause.” Carmen Moreno, a biologist, who has dedicated her entire career to clinical oncology research at the National Cancer Institute and as a professor, now retired, at the Faculty of Biology of the Complutense University of Madrid, is so forceful.
“There is sufficient evidence to consider that diet is directly involved in the initiation and development, or the protective mechanisms, of various types of tumors ”, she adds.
We would love to be able to say that the remedy for cancer is found in a plant that only grows deep in the Amazon jungle, but it is not possible. That only happens in the cinema, with Sean Connery as the protagonist (‘The last days of Eden’).
For years, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been warning of the carcinogenic potential of some foods, such as processed meat, sausages or smoked meats, and even drinks that are drunk very hotly (above 65 ° C).
But, on the contrary, there are no magic formulas or Fierabrás balms against cancer. “More than 30% of cancer deaths are related to food,” says Carmen Navarro, researcher.
However, “some foods and parts of food can help prevent the disease”, as also confirmed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, in its latest report of 2017. “In Asia, there are 30 times fewer cases of prostate cancer and 10 times fewer cases of breast cancer,” Dr. Moreno tells us. The reason could be in her diet and “the daily consumption of soy, which is a splendid dose of phytoestrogens that lead the body to produce less estrogen,” she explains.
The Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) gives very clear guidelines. It recommends fleeing from obesity, exercising, eating a healthy and balanced diet rich in fiber, fruits, and vegetables, and minimizing the consumption of fats, sugar, and alcohol.
Carmen Moreno, also the author of the book ‘Gastronomy and Oncology’ warns against pharmacological supplements to prevent cancer: “It has been shown that they can be dangerous and have an opposite effect to the desired one.”
“There are four main groups of anticancer agents in food: fiber; vitamins C, E, D, and A; minerals such as calcium, derivatives of sulfur, selenium, zinc or magnesium; and other tumor-inhibiting compounds such as omega 3 fatty acids, phytoestrogens, beta-carotene, phenols or alkaloids”, points out Dr. Moreno. Best of all, the foods that can help us avoid cancer are not superfoods, they are not exotic or exclusive…
They are, for the most part, everyday, cheap products that are present daily in our market. These are 20 allies against cancer. “In Asia, there are 30 times fewer cases of prostate cancer and 10 times fewer cases of breast cancer.” The reason is in your diet
It is a source of health.
It reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, purifies the liver, lowers cholesterol, and, in addition, contains large amounts of lycopene, a phytochemical responsible for its reddish color and its ability to prevent prostate cancer.
Like tomatoes, pumpkin is a wonderful source of lycopene, a compound that enhances the action of vitamins, minerals, and fiber present in fruit and vegetables and reduces the risk of prostate cancer.
Consuming a handful daily provides vitamin E, sulfur derivatives, magnesium, and phytoestrogens that reduce the risk of breast cancer.
They slow tumor growth thanks to their antioxidant properties that inactivate the points where carcinogens bind to DNA. Of all of them, blueberries have the highest concentration of quercetin, one of the most studied flavonoids for its antitumor activity.
Such as trout, mackerel or sardines are rich in vitamin D, selenium, and omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that inhibit free radicals, are involved in estrogen metabolism, and reduce cell proliferation, therefore They are good allies against colon, prostate, and breast cancer.
Broccoli contains anticancer agents such as magnesium, coumarins, and alkaloids. And, above all, vitamin A, protects against lung, esophagus, larynx, stomach, and leukemia tumors.
“Garlic, onion, and lemon, and forget about the injection”, says the popular proverb. Our grandmothers already knew the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of garlic. Now we also know that it contains derivatives of sulfur and antioxidants that protect against certain types of cancer, such as breast, lung, and gastric.
The fiber of some cereals favors intestinal transit capable of dragging carcinogenic substances to the body. However, as recommended by the AECC, bread, rice and pasta are better if they are wholemeal.
Curcumin, the main component of this root that can be taken fresh or dried and ground, is one of the most studied flavones. Its protective effect has been demonstrated in experimental tumors of the pancreas and colon and the culture of the human brain, breast, esophageal, and colorectal cancer cells.
It is known for its antioxidant properties and for being rich in flavonoid polyphenols. It has anti-cancer properties and acts as a protector against the effects of radiation.
The liquid gold of the Mediterranean diet contains vitamin E and D, as well as polyphenols, with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The ambitious study Predimed (Prevention with the Mediterranean Diet), carried out over twelve years, concluded that women who take four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day see their risk of developing breast cancer reduced by up to 68%.
Going back to popular sayings, it is said that an ‘apple a day will keep the doctor out of your life. Studies suggest that regular consumption of apples may help reduce the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, colon, ovaries, and prostate.
One of the most studied tumor-inhibiting phytochemical compounds is indoles, whose action prevents DNA breakage and protects against breast, stomach, liver, and prostate cancer. It is found mainly in cabbages, but also in other vegetables such as turnips or watercress.
They are green leaves and, therefore, rich in vitamin E, magnesium, and also saponins, whose antitumor properties derive from inducing the direct destruction of cancer cells and have an immunomodulatory effect.
It is rich in phenols, coumarins, lactones, and especially carvacrol, a phytochemical that has been studied to induce death in prostate cancer tumor cells.
They are an important source of beta-carotene, a phytochemical that helps prevent lung cancer in non-smokers. In the case of the peach, moreover, the University of Texas, in the United States, is studying the ability of some of its compounds to combat cancer cells selectively, without attacking normal cells.
They contain significant amounts of alkaloids that inhibit the binding to DNA of carcinogenic agents such as benzopyrene. Oranges also contain terpenes, associated, according to the AECC, with the prevention of some types of cancer.
Such as nori or wakame seaweed, whose color is due to the flucoxatin they contain, have phytoestrogens that inhibit – as has been shown in cultivation – the mutations that produce many carcinogens.
Such as the Asian maïtake, shitake, enoki, or reishi, but also our traditional milk cap, contains lentinan, a phytochemical that stimulates the immune system. Experimentally, they have been shown in culture to inhibit sarcoma growth by increasing the immune response.
It has a complex relationship with cancer. The medical community and the AECC recommend reducing alcohol consumption. But wine contains ethanol and polyphenols, which help maintain good cardiovascular health, as well as resveratrol, which reduces the risk of intestinal tumors. The key is moderation, one glass a day.