Jul 07, 2005 - 1:45 pm
THE ANTI-CANCER DIET
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12 Dietary Changes that Will Lower Your Cancer Risk
12 DIETARY CHANGES THAT WILL LOWER YOUR CANCER RISK
Some foods actually contribute to the development of cancer; other foods lessen the risk. The following anti-cancer diet greatly lowers your risk of colorectal cancer and nearly all other types of cancers. It can also prevent cardiovascular disease. For people with a genetic tendency toward colorectal cancer, it is not just an option, it's a lifesaving necessity.
1. Keep your diet low in total fat and very low in saturated fats. There are at least two ways in which dietary fat contributes to cancer. First, tumor cells need low density lipoproteins (LDL's) to grow. Therefore, a diet that helps to lower LDL levels could keep potentially cancerous cells from growing. Eating fat also stimulates the production of bile, which is needed to digest fat. If a lot of bile is allowed to stagnate in the large intestine for a long period of time, it's converted into apcholic acid, a proven carcinogen. Here are tips for eating not only less fat, but eating the right fats:
Eat less total fat. Limit your daily fat intake to no more than 20 percent of your total food calories. This means that if you average 2,500 calories a day, fat should provide no more than 500 of these calories. This means you should eat around 55 grams of fat per day, maximum. (On a 2,000 calories per day diet, you would eat about 45 grams of fat.)
Eat the right fat. Eating the wrong kinds of fat may be even more cancer-causing than eating too much fat. Cancer researchers became aware of this fat fact when they noticed that the incidence of most cancers is less in some cultures who actually have a high-fat diet, such as Eskimos (who eat a lot of seafood rich in omega 3 fatty acids) and the Mediterranean diet (which is plant-based, but high in monounsaturated oils). Some fats don't contribute to cancer and may in fact have some anticancer properties:
Studies in experimental animals showed that fish-oil-supplemented (high in omega 3 fatty acids) animals had significantly fewer colorectal tumors. Omega 3 fatty acids (such as those found in fish oils and flax seed oil) are not only the heart-healthiest fats, but they may have anticancer properties. Eskimo women who have a high concentration of omega 3 fatty acids in their diet have a lower incidence of breast cancer. (It is thought that omega 3 fatty acids may block the effect of estrogen on breast cells, thus lowering the risk of them becoming cancerous.)
Don't eat bad fats. Avoid oils high in saturated fats, such as palm, palm kernel, coconut, and cottonseed oils. Hydrogenated fats (those that have been chemically changed from unsaturated to saturated fats), are potentially carcinogenic. Adding hydrogen to a fat molecule may enable the molecule to interfere with the normal metabolism of cells in the body, setting the cell up for cancerous changes. So get used to reading labels. If any food contains "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" fats, leave it on the shelf. Most fast-food outlets use hydrogenated fats. (Ask! If they do, don't eat the food.) Nearly all packaged foods, such as potato chips, contain hydrogenated fats, since these allow a longer shelf life.
2. Increase Your Fiber Intake. In all the research between food and cancer, the evidence for a relationship between a high fiber diet and lower chances of colorectal cancer is the most conclusive. It follows common sense as well. Fiber moves potential carcinogens through the intestines faster, decreasing the contact time between carcinogens and the intestinal wall. The less exposure to carcinogens, the less chance of colon cancer. Besides pushing them through faster, fiber binds carcinogens, keeping them away from the intestinal wall. Fiber also absorbs bile acids, keeping them from acting on bacteria to produce fecapentanes ,the cancerous substances that are formed by decaying foods within the colon. There are about twenty of these compounds that can mutate colon cells into cancerous cells. Fiber also promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestines, which crowd out the undesirable bacteria that produce fecapentanes. A high fiber diet seems particularly protective against cancer in persons who have a hereditary risk of developing precancerous colorectal polyps. In a study of persons who were at high risk for developing colorectal cancer, those who ate at least thirteen grams of wheat bran fiber a day (All-Bran is a good source) for eight weeks showed less growth of potential cancer cells in the colon. Besides lowering the risk of colorectal cancer, a high fiber diet can lower the risk of breast cancer by binding estrogen in the bowels, thereby lessening the estrogen effect in the cells of breast tissue.
Based on both these scientific and common sense findings, we suggest you eat at least 25 grams of fiber a day. Best anticancer fiber sources are: wheat bran, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, navy beans, whole wheat, whole grains, legumes, whole grain bread, and prunes. Get used to looking at the package label to find the fiber content of foods. Simple modifications in your diet can increase the amount of fiber you eat. Use whole grain breads instead of white bread (white bread is junk bread). Eat beans regularly (try a salad composed of kidney beans, garbanzo beans, broccoli, and other raw vegetables). Have a big bowl of high fiber bran cereal for breakfast.
An Apple a Day May Keep the Cancer Doctor Away
Pectin, the fiber in apple skin, is fermented in the intestines, producing short- chain fatty acids that prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. They also nourish the cells of the intestinal lining, making them more resistant to becoming cancerous.
3. Eat lots of raw fruits and vegetables. The consensus of the hundreds of studies exploring the link between diet and cancer is that eating more fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of all types of cancers. Eating more fruits and vegetables decreases your appetite for fatty foods, which themselves increase the risk of cancer. Plants also contain phytochemicals . Substances that may help your body fight cancer. The five major classes of compounds that occur in fruits and vegetables as natural blocking agents against carcinogens are: phenols, indols, flavones, cumines, and isothiocyanates. These neutralizing agents prevent carcinogens from reaching critical target sites within the cell. The vegetables most important to reducing the risk of cancer are the cruciferous vegetables : broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, mustard greens, kale, and cauliflower. These vegetables contain three cancer-protective biochemicals: sulforaphane, which not only boosts immunity but blocks enzymes that draw carcinogens into healthy cells; compounds that prevent the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines in the intestines; and indoles, which lessen the risk of breast cancer.
Researchers estimate that eating lots of cruciferous vegetables could lower your risk of breast and colon cancer by 40 percent. Making your main meal, such as lunch, a huge salad (with no more than a tablespoon of vegetable oil as a dressing) would be one of the healthiest habits you could get into. Best salad sources of anti-cancer nutrients are: dark green leafy spinach (instead of iceberg lettuce, which is nutritionally useless), broccoli, tomatoes, red peppers, kidney beans, and garbanzo beans. As an added benefit sprinkle your salad with a bit of garlic , which has also been shown to have health-promoting and possibly anti-cancer properties. In addition, phytoestrogens from plant foods, especially cruciferous vegetables, can lower the risk of estrogen-dependent cancers, such as breast cancer. The phytoestrogens fill estrogen receptor sites on cells, keeping the cancer-causing estrogen from promoting the growth of malignant cells.