The Big C: Many people contract it and many more live in fear of it. Even more critical than a cure is knowing how to prevent cancer in the first place.
Worldwide, there are over fourteen million new cases of cancer reported every year. The annual death rate from cancer (of which a third is attributable to smoking tobacco) is over eight million people worldwide. (1) The number of new cancer diagnoses is expected to rise by seventy percent in the next twenty years. (2)
Personal risk factors for cancer include:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor diet
- Exposure to environmental toxins
- Substance abuse (including alcohol)
- Immune system dysfunction
What is Cancer?
Cancer occurs when normal cell reproduction and growth go awry. Abnormal cells grow more rapidly than normal cells and are more able to move around the body, potentially spreading cancer to other areas. Because they are abnormal, their lifespan is longer than that of normal cells, which grow, age, and die at regular rates. (3)
Sometimes abnormal cells clump together, forming tumors. In some types of cancer (e.g., leukemia), tumors don’t form but cancerous cells linger or travel via the bloodstream or lymphatic system. Because these cells don’t act as they should, they can interfere with normal bodily processes.
The dangers that cancerous cells pose are:
- Normal cells can’t grow fast enough to keep up and overtake the growth of abnormal cells.
- The immune system becomes overwhelmed in fighting cancer cells and becomes further compromised.
How to Prevent Cancer: 15 Cancer-Preventing Tips
Food and lifestyle play enormous roles in overall health and in the prevention of cancer. Below are ways to arm yourself to fight cancer and win.
1. Breast Cancer Prevention
To prevent breast cancer, stay away from personal care products with known cancer-causing ingredients. Parabens are common chemicals used in shampoos, lotions, cosmetics, and the like. In one British study, parabens were found in ninety-nine percent of the breast cancer cells taken from forty women with breast cancer. (4) These chemicals can take the form of methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben, and others.
2. How to Prevent Colon Cancer
All cruciferous vegetables, including cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale contain nutrients that promote healthy cell growth. Broccoli, in particular, contains a significant amount sulforaphane, a phytochemical that stimulates protective enzymes and pushes out hazardous chemicals for elimination. (5) In fact, eating broccoli three to four times a week has been found effective in preventing colon polyps. (6) On the other hand. coconut oil kills cancer cells…why not try them together?
3. Treating Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer, like cancers of the breast and testes, is related to hormone imbalance.
Constructively manage stress and restore balance with foods that regulate hormone production, like:
- Carrots – fiber pushes food through the digestive system and prevents estrogen accumulation
- Flaxseeds – regulate estrogens (7)
- Ginger – known to inhibit ovarian cancer cell growth (8)
- Green tea – regulates proteins responsible for cell reproduction and signaling, found to cause ovarian cancer cell death (9)
4. How to Prevent Prostate Cancer
Tomatoes contain lycopene, a potent antioxidant. A meta-analysis of men with prostate cancer found that those who ate lots of tomatoes and tomato products were less likely to develop prostate cancer. (10) It’s best to eat them cooked to promote ideal absorption.
5. Thyroid Cancer Prevention
Cancer of the thyroid is exacerbated by iodine, a nutrient found in many foods (salt is the best known). To keep your thyroid in its prime, avoid iodized salt, dairy, potato skins, chocolate, fish/shellfish, soy, and egg yolks. (11) It goes without saying that vegetables and fruits are part of a cancer-fighting diet, so be sure to increase your intake.
6. How to Prevent Skin Cancer
Overexposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun can cause skin cancer, the most common form of cancer. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid going outside. Taking simple precautions will help prevent getting too much sun at one time. For example, proper clothing and avoiding sunburn are important. Commercial sunscreens can contain chemicals that cause other types of cancer and disrupt the endocrine system. Instead, you can find a recipe for do-it-yourself sunscreen here.
Some foods also contain phytochemicals that naturally protect your skin from ultraviolet rays, such as:
- Salmon (wild)
7. How to Prevent Lung Cancer
Number one—the obvious: do not smoke cigarettes. Eighty percent of lung cancers are attributable to smoking tobacco. (12)
Number two: eat more garlic. Garlic contains organosulfur compounds known to reduce the risk of cancer by almost half. After eating raw garlic, these aromatic oils are excreted through the lungs, providing protective effects.
Additionally, cruciferous vegetables, foods abundant in vitamins C and E, and yellow/orange vegetables and fruits have been linked to better lung health. (13)
Other recommendations for a lung cancer prevention diet include:
- Eating too much protein can contribute to the risk of lung cancer. Enzymes manufactured in the pancreas are instrumental in normal digestion. They also kill cancer cells. Proteins take a long time to digest; by limiting intake to modest amounts within twelve hours in a day, pancreatic enzymes are free to work on any abnormal cells they find.
- Limit the amount of animal fat you eat, including butter and lard. Replace with healthy fats like avocado, coconut, and olive.
- Avoid cured meats containing nitrates (bacon, cold cuts, etc.)
- Get enough selenium; adequate amounts of this antioxidant mineral support the immune system and can prevent tumor formation. Good sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, oysters, tuna, sunflower seeds, lean meats, whole grains, and mushrooms.
8. Preventing Bladder Cancer
Mustard is in the family of cruciferous vegetables. Its seeds, as well as vegetables like bok choy, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale contain allyl isothiocyanate, a compound found to prevent the spread of cancer of the bladder.
9. How to Prevent Pancreatic Cancer
Wasabi has been found to combat pancreatic cancer, a particularly painful and lethal disease. Phytochemicals in this variety of horseradish prevent pancreatic cancer cell signaling, leading to their death (14). Artichokes and celery are rich in antioxidants apigenin and luteolin, also found to disrupt cancer cell signal pathways (15,16). It’s also a good idea to eat more yogurt. Plain yogurt promotes healthy digestive bacteria, which take some of the pressure off of the pancreas in its role in digestion. Lastly, bitter melon juice is especially potent for killing pancreatic cancer cells.
10. Throat Cancer Prevention
Antioxidants in berries and deep-colored foods reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which contribute to developing cancer. On the other hand, citrus fruits (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat, etc.) can reduce the risk of throat cancer by up to half. (17)
11. How to Prevent Cervical Cancer
Recent meta-analyses have discovered that the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine is not a good option for cervical cancer prevention. Its dangers are just as hazardous as the disease and there is no evidence that it has any long-term effect on cervical cancer risk.
Give these a try:
- Black beans
- Cruciferous vegetables
12. Preventing Liver Cancer
For starters, limit your alcohol intake – too much alcohol on a regular basis (with or without fatty liver or cirrhosis) can lead to cancer.
It’s also a good idea to eat more grapefruit. Grapefruit contains the flavone antioxidant naringenin, found in studies to cause liver cancer cell apoptosis (death) and prevent cancer proliferation. (20)
Other foods that fight cancer in the liver include:
- Red grape
- Red pepper
13. How to Prevent Brain Cancer
Firstly, avoid electromagnetic radiation as much as possible. Cell phones, wireless headphones and ear buds, smart meters, and other wireless technologies are known to have adverse neurological effects, including brain cancer. In addition, chronic lack of sleep prevents the brain’s nightly housekeeping and toxin cleanse.
Anti-cancer foods for the brain include:
- Healthy fats: avocado, coconut oil, flaxseeds, olive oil
- Sweet potatoes
- Adequate water (preferably filtered via reverse osmosis) (21)
14. How to Prevent Uterine Cancer
Almost sixty percent of uterine cancers are avoidable through diet, exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. Regular exercise decreases estrogen and insulin levels, keeping the endocrine system in balance. Plus, avoiding sugary foods maintains blood sugar and hormone levels, preventing obesity, diabetes, and cancer. (22) Additionally, coffee, garlic and onions, lentils, grapes, leafy greens, and tomatoes can all contribute to reduced risk of uterine cancer through the mechanisms of their antioxidants and ability to regulate hormone. (23, 24)
15. Stomach Cancer Prevention
The digestive system rarely gets the attention it deserves. As the saying goes: “Keep the gut healthy and the rest of the body will follow.” Maintaining friendly gut flora is the key to immune system function; inadequate supportive bacteria pave the way for harmful bacteria that can cause cancer and digestive disorders.
To prevent stomach cancer, try:
- Lemon water mixed with baking soda
- Avoiding the consumption of more than two alcoholic beverages per day (25)
- Staying away from foods preserved with salt
- Avoiding processed meat
- Citrus fruits
- Onions – quercetin is a bioflavonoid antioxidant known to reduce the risk of stomach cancer (26)
- More foods with lots of vitamin A (beta-carotene). Research has shown an inverse relationship between beta carotene intake and the incidence of stomach cancer (27). Grape leaves, carrots, sweet potatoes, dandelion greens, spinach, and parsley are a few foods high in the nutrient.
Other Cancer Fighting Foods
Here’s exactly what your body needs to thrive, cancer-free!
- Black pepper
- Clary sage
- Clove – breast, colon, and liver
- Frankincense – ovaries, bladder, and prostate (28)
- Tea tree
Fruits contain vitamins and antioxidants that support the immune system and reduce cell damage. This small sample has research behind it that shows protective and curative effects for cancer:
Legumes contain fiber, antioxidants and other phytochemicals protect cells from damage, reducing the risk for cancer.
- C – most fruits and vegetables
- D – fish oil, eggs, cod, salmon, sunshine
Herbs and spices:
- Cannabis – one of the most medicinal plants on Earth, cannabis prevents cancer and can cure it wherever in the body it may occur
- Cayenne pepper
- Turmeric (31)
Omega-3 fatty acids in fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, and others) improve cell communication and reduce cell inflammation.
Nuts – a handful a day of these (and any others) can reduce the risk of cancer (32):
- Walnuts, which contain phytosterols that block cell estrogen receptors, with implications for breast and prostate cancers. (33)
Leafy green vegetables – among the best cancer-fighting foods, these are abundant in enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that reduce inflammation and nourish every healthy cell. Isothiocyanates are a phytochemical in this type of vegetable that detoxify and support the immune system. Be sure to eat more spinach, chard, endive, lettuces, collards, watercress, etc.
Probiotics for thriving gut bacteria include:
- Yogurt (unsweetened)
The Bottom Line
A cancer diet is not just what you eat. Abnormal (cancerous) cells thrive on a diet of sugar in an oxygen-depleted environment. That’s why it’s so important to maintain an alkaline internal environment.
Cut out refined sugars (and artificial sweeteners), trans fat, and processed foods to minimize internal inflammation. It’s also a good idea to focus on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Staying hydrated, doing regular exercise, managing your stress levels, ingaging in healthy social interaction, and getting ample sleep will help keep your healthy cells healthy and your immune system in optimal shape to destroy abnormal cells if they do occur.