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How to Cancer Proof Your Life

Aug 17, 2007
It's no secret that fruit, vegetables, herbs and supplements can provide your body with powerful protection against cancer. But some are better than others. Read on to discover those you SHOULD eat. Some may surprise you.

The Cancer Council of Australia says around 11 percent of cancers are directly attributable to low consumption of fruit and vegetables. Researchers are finding that people who consume a large range of fruit and vegetables have a much lower chance of developing cancer than those who restrict the diet of these important foods.

These foods are all powerful antioxidants that help your body fight against cancer causing and tissue damaging free radicals. Vegetables and fruit are rich sources of antioxidants and according to Dr Linda Calabresi, editor of Medical Observer there is considerable evidence that a diet high in vegetables and fruit is associated with reduced cancer risk.

What has not been shown is whether you can achieve the same result by taking supplements of the antioxidants. It would appear that the reduced risk requires the antioxidants be consumed as they would naturally occur.In food.

Dr Simir Samman of the Human Nutrition Unit at the University of Sydney cautions against taking supplements in place of vegetables. An example is synthetic beta-carotene, which was associated with a number of health problems, including a higher risk of lung cancer.

According to Dr Samman, "When you eat a carrot, you're eating hundreds of different substances, not just beta-carotene." The other advantage of that whole carrot is absorption. Small amounts of cancer fighting vitamins and minerals are released throughout the day and the interaction of different chemicals from other foods eaten boosts digestion further. Take a megadose of a single vitamin and your body struggles to absorb it efficiently, swiftly expelling what it doesn't need.

However, presuming you are following a diet rich in fruit and vegetables you may wish to supplement your diet with antioxidant substances including vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and beta carotene, says Dr Calabresi.

Here are some important cancer fighters.

Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, are believed to contain compounds that block the production of cancer causing carcinogens. These vegetables, particularly broccoli, contain health enhancing phytochemicals that protect your body from cancer, heart disease and premature aging, according to Dr Andrew Weil, author of "8 Weeks to Optimum Health."

A University of Leicester study has found that a molecule found in cruciferous vegetables, called 13C, made breast cancer tumours more vulnerable to chemotherapy drugs.

Studies at the John Hopkins Medical Centre have shown that broccoli sprouts have at least 30 times the antioxidant concentration of mature broccoli. That means you'd have to eat 15 cups of broccoli to get the same cancer- fighting power of half a cup of broccoli sprouts.

To reduce your risk of colon cancer, eat ample amounts of foods that contain the highest concentrations of magnesium. These include green leafy vegetables, avocados, nuts and seeds and whole grains.

A study from the University of Minnesota involving more than 35 000 women over the age of 61, found the risk of colon cancer was significantly lower among women who had magnesium intakes of more than 365 mg per day.

Tomatoes contain the powerful nutritional antioxidant lycopene. A diet rich in tomatoes is linked to a reduced risk of cancers, including cancer of the mouth, stomach, colon and rectum. Studies indicate that women with high lycopene levels are five times less likely to develop pre-cancerous signs of cervical cancer than women with low levels.

Harvard University research has found eating five to seven tomatoes or tomato based products a week, reduces the risk of prostate cancer 21 percent to 34 percent.

While present in fresh tomatoes, lycopene is in much higher concentrations in cooked tomato products such as paste and sauce. Here's an added bonus. Avocado, a truly nutrient dense food, has been associated with increased absorption of lycopene. A 2004 research study at Iowa and Ohio State Universities, found that subjects who ate avocado absorbed more than 4.5 times more lycopene than those who didn't eat avocado.

Both tomatoes and avocado are important foods in the Mediterranean diet which tends to support heart health and prevent cancer.

These include garlic, leaks and onions. Studies show they can slow or stop the growth of cancer cells or make them easier for the body to excrete.

Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Centre have ranked blueberries number one in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other fresh fruit and vegetables. They are associated with numerous health benefits including protection against cancer, heart disease and brain damage from strokes. Studies at Tufts and Cornell Universities have found brain health benefits from taking blueberries. They also taste delicious! I have half a cupful each morning with my oatmeal cereals.

Finally, Cathy McDonald, Sanitarium's nutrition services manager, believes you should eat a wide range of different coloured fruit and vegetables every day. "Richer coloured fruit and vegetables not only provide more vitamins, but extra cancer-fighting compounds too." she says.

Never start a new treatment before consulting your doctor, especially if you are currently taking medication. The information published in this article is not intended as a substitute for personal medical advice from your physician or other qualified health-care practitioner. It is for information purposes only.
About the Author
Graeme Lanham is a freelance writer and health/fitness researcher. His new book "Your Life Fitness" includes current research studies on fitness and anti-aging. Discover more about the secrets to beating cancer and receive a FREE subscription to his regular subscribers only newsletter at:
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