No food completely protects people from cancer. The term cancer medication refers to foods that can reduce the risk of cancer if a person adds them to their diet.
This article takes a look at the best foods to fight cancer and explains the science behind these claims.
Foods that contain natural compounds with strong anti-cancer properties include:
The sentence “one apple a day keeps the doctor away” actually sounds very true. Apples contain polyphenols with promising anti-cancer properties.
Polyphenols are compounds of plant origin that can prevent inflammation, cardiovascular diseases, and infections.
Some research suggests that polyphenols have anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties.
For example, floret polyphenol inhibits a protein called glucose transporter 2 (GLUT2), which is involved in cell growth in the late stages of certain cancers.
A study published in the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis in 2018 suggests that apple phloretin significantly inhibits breast cancer cell growth without affecting normal cells.
Berries are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Scientists have shown great interest in berries due to their antioxidant properties and potential health benefits.
The study shows that anthocyanin, a compound in blackberries, reduces the biomarkers for colon cancer.
Another study shows that the anti-inflammatory effects of blueberries can prevent the growth of breast cancer tumors in mice.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale contain useful nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese.
Cruciferous vegetables also contain sulforaphane, a herbal compound with anti-cancer properties.
The study shows that sulforaphane significantly inhibits cancer cell growth and stimulates cell death in colon cancer cells.
Another study shows that sulforaphane in combination with genistein, a compound in soybeans, can significantly inhibit the development and size of breast cancer tumors. Sulforaphane also inhibits histone deacetylase, an enzyme-linked to the development of cancer.
In a review, 3-5 servings of cruciferous vegetables per week are recommended to achieve the best anti-cancer effects.
Carrots contain several essential nutrients, including vitamin K, vitamin A, and antioxidants.
Carrots also contain a lot of beta-carotene, which is responsible for the characteristic orange color.
Current studies show that beta-carotene plays an essential role in supporting the immune system and can prevent certain types of cancer.
A review of eight studies shows that beta-carotene is associated with a reduced risk of breast and prostate cancer.
Another analysis shows that higher carrot consumption leads to a 26% lower risk of developing stomach cancer.
Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and anchovies are rich in essential nutrients such as vitamin B, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
One study found that people whose diets were rich in freshwater fish were 53% less likely to have colorectal cancer than those who were low in freshwater fish.
Another study found that later consumption of fish oil was associated with a significantly lower risk of prostate cancer.
Finally, a study of 68,109 people found that people who consumed fish oil supplements at least four times a week developed 63% less colorectal cancer than those who did not.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, all nuts have anti-cancer properties, but scientists have studied nuts more than other types of nuts.
Walnuts contain a substance called pedunculagin, which the body breaks down into urolithins. Urolithines are compounds that bind to estrogen receptors and can play a role in the prevention of breast cancer.
In an animal study, mice were given whole walnuts and nut oil had a higher level of tumor suppressor genes than mice given vegetable oil.
Legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils are high in fiber, which can help reduce the risk of cancer.
A meta-analysis of 14 studies shows a link between higher legume consumption and a lower risk of colon cancer.
Another study examines the relationship between red bean fiber consumption and breast cancer risk.
The results of the study show that people who were rich in bean fiber were 20% less likely to develop breast cancer than people who did not meet their daily fiber intake.
Supplements and medications
Although the foods listed above are everyday items and are available, some people may not want to make significant changes to their diet or lifestyle. In this case, there are many supplements and medications that contain anti-cancer compounds.
Vitamins A, C, and E are known for their anti-cancer properties and are available as supplements in most major grocery stores.
Most of the herbal compounds listed in this article, such as flowers, anthocyanin, and sulforaphane, are in tablet form.
Over-the-counter medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen can also lower the risk of cancer in some people.
Always speak to a doctor before starting a new medication or supplement.