Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide but studies suggest that simple lifestyle changes, such as following a healthy diet, could prevent 30–50% of all cancers. Growing evidence points to certain dietary habits increasing or decreasing cancer risk.No single food can prevent cancer, but the right combination of foods may help make a difference. Scientists estimate that eating the optimal diet for cancer may reduce your risk by up to 70% and would likely help recovery from cancer as well. It is believed that certain foods can fight cancer by blocking the blood vessels that feed cancer in a process called anti-angiogenesis. When it comes to a diet rich in cancer-fighting substances, most experts agree that it should consist of a predominantly plant-based diet.
Some of the key cancer-fighting foods include:
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Observational studies have linked higher consumption of vegetables with a lower risk of cancer. Many vegetables contain cancer-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals. For example, cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, contain sulforaphane, a substance that has been shown to reduce tumor size in mice by more than 50%. Other vegetables, such as tomatoes and carrots, are linked to a decreased risk of prostate, stomach and lung cancer
Leafy greens will be the basis of any nutritious diet because they are exceptionally full of vitamins, antioxidants, vitamins, and enzymes, yet quite low in carbs, carbohydrates, sodium, and other poisons. Leafy greens of all types — fresh lettuce, collard greens, romaine, watercress, arugula salad, etc. — are full of antioxidants proven to fight cancer, such as vitamin C and beta-carotene.
Also, Similar to vegetables, fruits contain antioxidants and other phytochemicals, which may help prevent cancer. One review found that at least three servings of citrus fruits per week reduced stomach cancer risk by 28%.
This orange-colored spice contains an ingredient called curcumin that may be useful in reducing cancer risk. Curcumin can inhibit some kinds of cancer cells in laboratory studies and slow the spread of cancer or shrink tumors in some animals. This cancer-fighting food is easy to find and can be used in a variety of recipes on your anti-cancer diet.
Berries, including strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, black raspberries, cherries, elderberries, and bilberries are all loaded with a cancer-fighting substance called Anthocyanins. Blackberries, black raspberries, and blueberries, in particular, have some of the highest levels of this health-promoting phytochemicals. Anthocyanins slow the growth of pre-malignant (cancer) cells and prevent new blood vessels from forming which would feed a cancerous tumor.
Green tea is a powerful antioxidant and may be an important part of an anti-cancer diet. Green tea, a cancer-fighting food, may help prevent liver, breast, pancreatic, lung, esophageal, and skin cancer. The leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) contain antioxidants called catechins, which may help prevent cancer in a variety of ways, including keeping free radicals from damaging cells. Lab studies have found that catechins in tea can shrink tumors and reduce tumor cell growth. Some — but not all — studies in humans have also linked drinking tea to a lower risk of cancer. Both green and black teas contain catechins, but you’ll get more antioxidants from green tea, so you may want to consider a cup or more per day in your anti-cancer diet.
BEANS AND LEGUMES
Beans and legumes are high in fiber, and some studies suggest that a higher intake of this nutrient may protect against colorectal cancer. Some beans, particularly pinto and red kidney beans, are outstanding sources of antioxidants and should be included in your anti-cancer diet. One study in over 3,500 people found that those eating the most legumes had up to a 50% lower risk of certain types of cancers.
Ginger is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory cancer-fighting foods you can find! Ginger is known to actually shrink tumors and destroy cancer stem cells, as effectively as some chemotherapy medications. However, ginger can protect healthy cells while killing cancer stem cells. Ginger extracts have been shown in scientific studies to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor effects on human cells and cancer cells. Because ginger has such a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on cells, reducing key inflammatory indicators also reduced chances of cancer development, in addition to ginger’s tumor-shrinking capabilities.
This monounsaturated fat is widely used for both cooking and salad oil and maybe a cancer-fighting food. Many studies show a link between olive oil and reduced cancer risk. One large review of observational studies found that people who consumed the highest amount of olive oil had a 42% lower risk of cancer, compared to the control group
Research shows that garlic is a cancer-fighting food. Several large studies have found that those who eat more garlic are less likely to develop various kinds of cancer, especially in digestive organs such as the esophagus, stomach, and colon. Studies have shown that garlic can block the formation of nitrosamines, powerful carcinogens that target several sites in the body, usually the colon, liver, and breasts. Other studies have found an association between garlic intake and a lower risk of specific types of cancer, including stomach and prostate cancer.
There’s evidence that eating fresh fish can help protect against cancer, possibly due to healthy fats that can reduce inflammation. Fatty fish — such as salmon, tuna, and herring — contain omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fatty acid that has been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. If you don’t currently eat fish, you might consider adding it to your anti-cancer diet.
No single food can protect against cancer. However, eating a diet full of diverse whole foods, such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, spices, healthy fats, fresh fish and high-quality dairy, may reduce cancer risk.