Nature's Cancer fighters ...
July 07, 2005 12:36 PM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: Nature's Cancer fighters ...
Cancer has always been a word no one wants to hear from a doctor's lips. But as a fatal disease, cancer has gone from dread to worse, passing heart disease as the number-one killer of Americans under the age of 85 (a category that includes the overwhelming majority of us). While death rates for both illnesses has dropped over the past few years, the improvement has been much more pronounced for cardiovascular disorders.
According to the American Cancer Society, 476,009 people died of cancer in 2002 (the last year for which statistics are available). Behind every one of those numbers is a web of lives tangled by cancer's relentless onslaught: A child who misses a mother's comforting arms, a bride without a father to walk her down the aisle, a spouse coming home to a dark, cold house every night. And for those fortunate enough to survive a cancer encounter, there's always the dark worry of recurrence that surfaces with every ache or twinge.
Many people think of cancer as either a random calamity of a genetically driven inevitability, but it ain't necessarily so. Diet is coming up big as a major cancer-risk player: For example, eating a lot of red meat, especially highly processed meats such as bacon, has been linked to high colorectal cancer risk in an investigation published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. On the positive side, a number of nutrients have shown cancer-fighting power, such as the recently discovered link between the B vitamin folate and reduced risk of colon and other cancers (see page 57). Other useful nutrients appear on the chart that follows.
Of course, risk always varies from person to person, and there are some lifestyle issues, like not smoking, that are no-brainers when it comes to cancer deterrence. But isn't it nice to know that protection from such a terrible disease might be as close as the end of your fork?
Nature's Cancer fighters
Description: Black or blue, rasp or straw, these tiny fruits pack a huge health punch; notable phytonutrients include anthocyanadins, ellagic acid and quercetin, along with vitamins and fiber. Function: Among the plant world's most powerful antioxidants; have shown the ability to inhibit cancer cell growth.
Description: These substances, found in oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits, include hesperidin and limonene. Function: Have shown promising anti-cancer effects in early studies; grapefruit compounds may be praticularly helpful in fighting lung cancer among smokers and colon cancer.
Description: A reddish yellow compound found in the spice turmeric, a staple in indian cookery. Function: Interfers with cancer cell proliferation and with tumor blood-supply developement. Cooking use thought to be responsible for lower childhood cancer rates in asia.
Description: An Omega-3 acid found in such fatty fish as salmon and sardines; complete name: eiscosapentaenoic acid. Function: Increased intake linked to reduced rates of several types of cancer, including those of the breast, colon, lung and prostate. May help make standard chemotherapy more effective (Consult your physician first).
Description: Leaves of the Camilla sinensis plant, which is extensively cultivated in China, India and Japan; One of the world's most popular beverages that's also available in extract form. Function: Contains potent antioxidants; has been associated with lower cancer rates in large population studies. Extract may make it more difficult for cancer cells to invade healthy tissues.
Description: Best known for putting the red in tomatoes, this phytonutrient is also found in apricots, pink grapefruit and watermelon. Function: Associated with reduced risk of, and slower growth rates in, prostate cancer; recent research also links lycopene to lower pancreatic cancer risk. Reduces DNA damage in white blood cells.
Description: Complex sugar compounds found in a variety of mushrooms, include shiitake, maitake, and reishi. Function: Different polysaccarides have shown different anti-cancer effects in laboratory studies: Some fight tumor formation, others induce apoptosis. In Japan, mushroom eaters have lower cancer death rates.
Description: Trace mineral found in grains, meats, seafood and some nuts, most notably brazil nuts. If using supplements, follow package directions. Function: Supports production of glutathione, a natural antioxidant. Has reduced prostate cancer risk in men with low blood selenium levels. May lower colon cancer risk.
Description: Soy foods include soy milk, tempeh, edamame (Vegetable green soybeans) and tofu; also available as soy protein extract. Function: Populations that consume high amounts of soy foods have lower breast and prostate cancer rates.
Description: Found in citrus fruit, cabbage and related vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts,cauliflower), Potatoes, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes and tomato juice. Function: The body's primary water-based antioxidant; has neutralized toxic byproducts of normal fat metabolism in some studies. Recharges its partner, Vitamin E.
Description: While vitamin D is found in egg yolks, butter and cod liver oil, the main source is sun-exposed skin. Function: Regular sun exposure is linked with lower overall cancer death rates, while rates for breast, colon and prostate cancers are all higher in northern parts of the US.
Vitamin E, Natural
Description: Found in almonds, fruit, peanuts, vegetable oils, whole grains (including brown rice). Function: The body's primary fat-based antioxidant; may retard prostate cancer developement.
Apoptosis - process by which cell normally die and are replaced; becomes disabled in cancer cells. Antioxidant - counters harmful molecules called free radicals that can damage DNA, which can lead to cancer. Phyonutrient - Substances found in plant foods that promote good health in humans. Proliferation - unregulated growth and reproduction that characterizes cancer cells. Tumor
- Solid mass formed by some cancers; capable of developing its own blood-vessel network.