There are hundreds of variations of cancer; its incidence has remained steady in North America over the last decade and survival rates for some cancers have generally increased.
If you get down to the very granular level, however, it’s estimated that most men have a 43 % chance of developing some form of cancer in their lifetimes and women have a 38% chance (1). Those aren’t great odds.
Additionally, these rates are even higher among some demographics, as is the risk of cancer-related mortality (2).
What Is Cancer?
Cancer is a term that actually refers to a group of diseases in which the normal lifecycle of the body’s cells is interrupted:
“When cancer develops…cells become more and more abnormal, old or damaged cells survive when they should die, and new cells form when they are not needed.These extra cells can divide without stopping and may form growths called tumors. Many cancers form solid tumors, which are masses of tissue. Cancers of the blood, such as leukemias, generally do not form solid tumors. Cancerous tumors are malignant, which means they can invade nearby tissues. In addition, as these tumors grow, some cancer cells can break off and travel to distant places in the body through the blood or the lymph system and form new tumors far from the original tumor.”(3)
Causes of Cancer Can be Obvious…or Not
Many factors contribute to the incidence of cancer. Some of them are under our control like lifestyle, diet, and unhealthy habits; while some of them aren’t, like heredity and environmental factors.
Try as we may to live healthy lives, cancer can affect just about anyone, and when it does, it’s best to do everything we can to fight it as naturally as possible and give our body their best chance at healing itself.
Regular exercise, abstinence from smoking, and a healthy diet are all no-brainers when it comes to reducing our risk of developing cancer. It may even help cure it when it does occur.
Below is a list of some of the most effective cancer fighting foods that will restore the nutrients your body needs to regain balance and promote healthy cell growth.
The antioxidants in berries are primarily found in their skin and are responsible for their vibrant colors. One particular group of flavonoid antioxidants is anthocyanidins, which are found almost exclusively in berries.They enhance mental faculty and can reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, like Parkinson’s (5,6).
Studies have shown that anthocyanidins reduce the production of abnormal cells as well as prevent their formation in the first place.
2. Cruciferous Vegetables
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower are all part of a group of vegetables that contain sulforaphane, a potent antioxidant. Studies have linked this phytochemical to the destruction of cancerous cells (7).
Organosulfur compounds are released when garlic is cut or mashed; after being digested, they are then excreted through our skin and lungs. In fact, these compounds are responsible for “garlic breath”.
The resveratrol is another potent antioxidant that “…affects all three discrete stages of carcinogenesis (initiation, promotion, and progression) by modulating signal transduction pathways that control cell division and growth, apoptosis, inflammation, angiogenesis, and metastasis. The anticancer property of resveratrol has been supported by its ability to inhibit proliferation of a wide variety of human tumor cells.”(9).
Vitamin C is arguably the most vital nutrient in the human diet and grapefruit has plenty of it. With antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, this vitamin provides essential support to the immune system. It also fights oxidative stress caused by free radicals (10).
6. Green Tea
Green tea is also a potent anti-inflammatory compound and can help regulate cholesterol (12).
7. Leafy Green Vegetables
Spinach, lettuce, chard, mustard greens, and kale are a few examples of leaf vegetables rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Phytonutrients in the carotenoid group such as lutein, zeaxanthin, saponins, and flavonoids are abundant in these types of vegetables and have been shown to prevent abnormal cells from occurring.
“Researchers believe that carotenoids seem to prevent cancer by acting as antioxidants – that is, scouring potentially dangerous ‘free radicals’ from the body before they can do harm. Some laboratory research has found that the carotenoids in dark green leafy vegetables can inhibit the growth of certain types of breast, lung, stomach, and skin cancer cells.” (13).
Lycopene is what makes tomatoes red. As a powerful antioxidant, “…lycopene has been proven the most potent of all the carotenoids in quenching singlet oxygen, a highly reactive and short-lived molecule capable of causing extensive cell damage.”(14).
Similar in appearance to ginger in its raw form, turmeric has a mild metallic flavor adds body and depth. The spice has been shown to be a very powerful anti-inflammatory due to the phytonutrient curcumin.
Effective in treating arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other inflammatory diseases, curcumin targets cancer stem cells, inhibiting their growth. It prevents cancer from ever starting and gets to the root cause of cancer where it exists.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the gifts nature has to offer, but incorporating some of these foods into your daily diet can help to prevent cancer and stop its proliferation.