Diet and Cancer
I want you to have the best information you can on diet and cancer. I’ve been compiling lists of these wonderful foods for a very long time. Every time I came across a new and interesting bit of research I wrote it down and I am pleased to be able to share this information with you. I am continually adding new information as it comes to light, so keep checking back.
From the website cancernutrition.com: “The National Cancer Institute estimates that at least 35% of all cancers have a nutritional connection. When lifestyle factors such as smoking and exercise are included the associated risk becomes much stronger and may be as high as 85%. What we eat makes a big difference in our energy levels, our mood and even our self esteem. When we choose foods rich in protective factors such as fruits and vegetables we are also doing something positive for our health and well-being.”
We are very fortunate to live in an age where so much scientific research has been done, so much information is available on the Internet, all of which explains exactly why “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”! There are multitudes of reasons why we should be eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables every day, not the least of which is because so many of them are cancer fighting foods.
Whenever possible, cancer patients should be eating organic produce because if your immune system is already under attack, it does not need any more toxins to drag it down. There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there, we keep hearing about various people doing “taste tests” on organic produce vs. regular produce. They are TOTALLY missing the point. People aren’t eating organic produce because it tastes better, but because it’s free of all the pesticides and herbicides that regular produce gets sprayed on it at various stages!
If you live in an area where organic produce just isn’t available, it is probably more important to get the freshest produce that you can and just make sure you wash everything extremely well – fill the kitchen sink with clean water and a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice and soak any non-organic produce for 15-20 minutes, rinse well. It may seem like just another task, but it is well worth it, especially considering how much some fruits and vegetables are sprayed with pesticides.
THINGS TO AVOID
Alcohol. For one thing, it is made with carcinogens, it is metabolized into carcinogens by the body, it suppresses your immunity. If you are dealing with breast cancer, alcohol is known to increase estrogen levels and may interfere with the ability of the liver to remove estrogen from the bloodstream. Having said all of that, there is research that shows that a glass of red wine now and again is actually good for you, but if you are actively battling cancer it is recommended that you give alcohol a big miss.
Processed Meats. Bacon, sausage, hot dogs and ham all contain chemicals known as nitrates (used for preserving the meat). An excess of nitrates in the body is linked to the development of many different types of cancer, including stomach, colorectal and brain tumors. Avoid these meats whenever possible, unless you can buy organic, nitrate free varieties and increasingly these are becoming more readily available.
Sugar. This is a bit more difficult for some people, but sugar also suppresses the immune system. It raises triglyceride levels and blood pressure, lowers your production of antibodies, inactivates macrophages (immune system cells), and increases candida albicans (a fungus) in your body. Research shows that only a modest intake of glucose (sugar) can cause a measurable decline in cell-mediated immunity in healthy people. It is thought that the mechanism by which this occurs is probably elevated insulin levels competing with mitogens (communication substances in the immune system) for binding sites on lymphocytes. Simple sugars seem to cause this effect, while starch ingestion does not. Researchers have hypothesized that a high sugar intake is a major risk factor toward breast cancer. See my article Avoid Sugar Help Your Immune System
Obesity. Research indicates that overeating suppresses the immune system. Also, people who have already fought a battle with cancer and are overweight have a higher chance of suffering a recurrence. Simple weight gain should not be worried about, but being obese carries with it a higher risk of cancer.
Dairy Products. Considered to be a common source of food allergies. If you are lactose intolerant, it is important to keep away from all varieties of dairy products because again, if your body is continually losing energy from the foods you eat, you don’t have the energy to combat the cancer cells. Another problem with dairy products are the antibiotics and growth hormones that are given to our dairy cattle – they eventually find their way into the milk supply and into our bodies. If you must have dairy products (including butter), ensure they are all organic. For a bit more information, I wrote a blog post about the problem with dairy products.
Red Meat. We cannot ignore this any longer, the research shows that beyond a doubt eating red meat is a serious risk factor for breast cancer. Depending on the research you read, the women who eat the most red meat have between 88% to 330% increased risk of breast cancer. According to Christine Horner, MD, there are four major risk factors associated with eating red meat:
1. When animal protein is cooked (especially at high heat) structural changes occur to the protein that create dangerous new carcinogens.
2. The saturated animal fats from red meat and dairy products are poisonous to your body; they make your insulin levels rise (studies show that women with the highest insulin levels have a 283% greater risk of breast cancer); and the fat is converted into a carcinogenic substance in your colon.
3. Red meat contains concentrated amounts of toxins including pesticides, antibiotics, chemical fertilizers, hormones and growth stimulators. When cattle are injected with rBGH (a bovine growth hormone to make then grow larger faster), its body produces large amounts of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) – this becomes a very potent stimulator of breast cancer, and some scientists believe that it is the most potent stimulator of breast cancer known to us. If that isn’t enough to sway you, the pesticides and fertilizers can also trigger breast cancer due to their estrogen-like effects.
4. When red meats are grilled, an additional class of carcinogens are generated, known as heterocyclic amines, which attack DNA and destroy its coding and that increases the risk of cancer. The more well done your meat is, and the higher the temperature you use to cook it, the more heterocyclic amines form.
A 2002 Vanderbilt University study found that women who ate a lot of red meat, cooked well done, had a much higher risk of breast cancer. If the women were also overweight, the risk was even higher.
Grapefruit – I just found out about this one. According to www.naturalnews.com, “A compound found in grapefruit and grapefruit juice produces an amazing effect according to research from the University of Hawaii. This compound, known as cytochrome p450, inhibits an enzyme group in the same complex as the aromatase enzyme. This enzyme inhibited by grapefruit is involved in breaking down and metabolizing sex hormones. If estrogens are not metabolized, excessive levels can accumulate in the body. This prospective study, reported in the British Journal of Cancer, July 10, 2007, was based on data collected for the Multiethnic Cohort Study that involved 50,000 postmenopausal women spanning five ethnic groups. It found that grapefruit intake was significantly associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. The increased risk was comparable to the increased risk seen in women taking hormone substitution drugs as part of traditional HRT.”
HEALING FOODS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR DIET
Okay, here’s the good stuff, the best cancer fighting foods that nature has to offer. I’ve broken it down into Fiber, Fruits, Vegetables, and then other healing nutrients.
Some of the research on breast cancer shows that higher than normal estrogen levels increase your risk of contracting this disease. Interestingly, something as simple as 1/2 oz of bran per day can significantly decrease estrogen levels. If bran isn’t digested well, seeds and whole grains are transformed in the gut to lignans which, once absorbed, interfere with estrogenic activity (like a natural Tamoxifen). The best source is flax seed (see below under Cancer Fighting Vitamins & Nutrients). 2 tsp per day is suggested as higher amounts can interfere with Vitamin B6.
Fiber also hastens elimination and protects the bowel. A diet high in fiber also helps to control weight and lowers cholesterol levels. Good sources of fiber are fruit, vegetables, brown rice, rye crackers, oats, sesame seeds, whole wheat, and bran.
FRUITS. The darker the color, the higher the level of antioxidants and phytonutrients (phyto- means plant). Remember – if it stains your fingers, it’s extremely beneficial!
Apples. Apples are a very beneficial cancer fighting food – much more than you might think. Please buy them organically grown wherever possible because apples top the list of the most contaminated foods. Also, red apples are often injected with a dye to make them look better! Organic apples have a large amount of caffeic acid which research shows may prevent many forms of cancer. They also contain ellagic acid which is known to be a potent cancer inhibitor, it is an antioxidant, and also an anti-mutagen. Studies have shown the anti-cancer activity of ellagic acid on cancer cells of the breast, esophagus, skin, colon, prostate and pancreas. More specifically, ellagic acid prevents the destruction of P53 gene by cancer cells. Ellagic acid can bind with cancer causing molecules, rendering them inactive. Ellagic acid also showed a chemoprotective effect against various chemically induced cancers – it works by preventing polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (mainly found in cigarettes) and a carcinogen known as benzopyrene (created as a result of food processing involving heat as in frying, barbecuing or smoking) from converting normal, healthy cells into cancerous cells. Apples also contain chlorogenic acid which helps to prevent the sort of cell mutations that are seen in cancer. And we’re not done yet! Apple pulp contains pectin and pectic acids which travel through your intestines, absorbing water and expanding into a sticky mass which will help to soften hard stools, it binds to toxins in the stomach and intestinal tract and that helps to guard you against stomach and colon cancer. Apples also contain high amounts of Vitamins E, A and C (all antioxidants), biotin and folic acid.
Apricots. Apricots contain beta-carotene which is a great antioxidant, inhibiting early stages of tumor development and improving immune function.
Bananas. Bananas are wonderful! Rich in pectin (see Apples), potassium and magnesium. Potassium helps to remove poisonous wastes from the kidneys. Bananas also contain plenty of Vitamins A, C and E. They even have some B vitamins that help calm the nervous system. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, go eat a banana.
Bananas contain 3 natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose and give an instant, sustained and noticeable boost of energy. They also contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, which can improve your mood and make you feel a little happier!
Bilberries, Blackcurrants, Blueberries, Dewberries, Cranberries, Raspberries. These berries are all rich in Vitamin C, bioflavonoids, fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulphur, silicon and iron. They also contain anthocyanins which are powerful antioxidants and bacteria inhibitors. Many also contain ellagic acid (see Apples).
Cherries. Cherries are also a great cancer fighting food – they contain something that encourages the death of tumor cells, so very beneficial to cancer patients. Cherries are a tonic for the blood, they promote healthy blood and protect the body against the harmful effects of stress and our polluted cities. They are rich in Vitamins A and C, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese.
Citrus Fruit. Again, buy organic whenever possible as citrus fruit is highly sprayed and can also be irradiated to protect the fruit from insects. Food irradiation creates many toxic effects on the body which can promote cancer development.
On the plus side, citrus fruits are high in fiber, rich in Vitamins A and C, so they are potent antioxidants. Lemons, oranges, mandarins and limes contain a substance known as limonene (also found in the essential oils produced from these fruits) which is a strong cancer fighter that stimulates the liver to produce a cancer-inhibiting enzyme known as glutathione S-transferase (GST) . Limonene seems to promote the GST system in the liver and small bowel, thereby decreasing the damaging effects of carcinogens. Animal studies demonstrated that dietary limonene reduced mammary tumor growth (so get out those essential oils of lemon, orange, and tangerine and spread them on your body!).
Lemons are high in phosphorus which aids in brain repair, increasing memory and creativity, lemons help waste elimination, are a natural antiseptic, cleanse the lymphatic system, and prevent hardening of arteries. If you think that lemons are acidic, think again – once they enter the stomach they are alkaline and promote a healthy body pH.
Figs. Research on humans demonstrated that figs are capable of shrinking tumors by an average of 39% and could induce remissions in 55% of cancer sufferers. It is thought that figs can counteract some of the side effects associated with chemotherapy and radiation treatment, such as fatigue, damage to the mucosal lining of the mouth, throat and digestive tract. Figs contain demulcents, substances that sooth irritated mucous membranes in the mouth, throat and respiratory system. They are rich in potassium, iron, copper, calcium, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium and B complex vitamins. Try to find organic figs, as they will be the most beneficial cancer fighter.
Goji berries aka Wolfberries. The Chinese have been taking these berries for thousands of years and they call them the “Red Treasure”. They are full of health-promoting substances called polysaccharides – LBP1, LBP2, LBP3, LBP4 – and these are found in no other fruit on earth. The juice of the goji berry is the easiest to take and much more nutrient dense. If you want specific research on how wolfberry/goji is being used for cancer patients, go to the pubmed.gov website and put in the search field “lycium barbarum and cancer” (the botanic name of wolfberry/goji). To find out what juice I am taking (and I think it’s the absolute bees knees of juices!), contact me.
Grapes. Red and purple grapes are the best cancer fighting foods because they have the highest level of plant nutrients. Again, buy them organically grown (including raisins and sultanas) because they are near the top of the list of the most sprayed fruits and you don’t want all those chemicals in your body.
Research shows that eating plenty of grapes and their juice may put small tumors into remission, enhance the activity of natural killer (NK) cells (part of your immune system), contain potent antioxidants, unclog your arteries, reduce cholesterol, fight allergies, and are anti-inflammatory. Grapes contain ellagic acid which may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and promote longevity.
Grapes are full of polyphenols, and research shows that polyphenols inhibit tumor formation, activate cancer cell death in breast cancer and leukemia, and they may have antioxidant characteristics with potential health benefits; they may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Grapes also contain ferulic acid which may help to prevent many forms of cancer. Bioflavonoids are another constituent of grapes. Bioflavonoids help protect the health of small blood vessels and capillaries and prevent inflammation and these factors mean that it can help reduce the spread of cancer, a very important thing to know.
Kiwi fruit. Rich in enzymes, Vitamin C, and potassium, these little fuzzy fruits are considered by many to be potent cancer fighting foods due to their proteolytic (protein eating) enzymes.
Mangoes. High in enzymes and bioflavonoids (see Grapes). Mangoes are very good for the immune system because they contain beta-carotene.
Pineapple. Contains enzymes which help to break down foods in the body, pineapple also contains lots of antioxidants and peroxidase, a substance that researchers think inhibits the growth of tumor cells. It also contains bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down protein, is anti-inflammatory and is believed to assist cancer cell death. So pineapple is another great cancer fighting food, assisting the immune system and aiding digestive function.
Strawberries. Since strawberries are highly sprayed with pesticides, it’s best to buy them organic or grow them yourself, but if this is impossible, just ensure you wash them thoroughly as described above. Strawberries contain ellagic acid and bioflavonoids (see discussion in Grapes and Apples). They also inhibit the conversion of nitrates to nitrites to nitrosamine, which is a carcinogenic substance (see discussion above at “processed meats”).
Tomatoes. Yes, they are considered a fruit, not a vegetable. They contain a compound known as lycopene, a very important carotenoid that protects the body from oxidation (which is what happens when rust forms on bare metal). Lycopene improves cell-to-cell communication, helps to prevent scarring and, taken 3 weeks before radiation treatment, can act to speed up the actions of radiotherapy and guards against its toxic effects. Lycopene helps to protect against breast and prostate cancer. The lycopene content of tomatoes is enhanced when they are lightly cooked or taken with a little oil. Tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes and tomato puree are good sources of lycopene. Tomatoes also contain p-coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid, potent phytochemicals which prevent the formation of nitrosamines (see Strawberries and Processed Meats). Tomatoes stimulate the growth or regeneration of liver tissue and are a VERY potent cancer fighting food.
The most important vegetables to purchase organically grown are potatoes, carrots, lettuce, green beans, peanuts and wheat because they top the list of the most heavily sprayed produce.
Avocado. Avocados contain good fats, potassium, chromium, and a lot of glutathione, a powerful generator of immune cells and powerful detoxifier which eliminates carcinogens. Some think that avocados are fattening, but they are really great cancer fighters.
Beets. Absolutely the best in cancer fighting foods. Talk about staining your fingers! It must be fresh, though, and organic is best since it is a root vegetable and come into contact with the earth. Beets stimulate lymphatic function, enhances liver function, are good for constipation, fluid retention, anxiety, memory problems, gallstones, bladder and kidney problems, anemia. Scientific research shows a Hungarian doctor who used beets to totally clear lung cancer from a 50-year old male in 6 weeks. It is recommended to drink 100 ml of fresh organic beet juice daily during cancer treatment. Beets contain iron, potassium, niacin, copper, vitamin C, folic acid, zinc, calcium, manganese, magnesium.
Carrots. Carrots contain retinol which inhibits tumor promotion, Vitamin C and beta-carotene, which is an important antioxidant that inhibits the early stages of tumor development and improves immune function. Carrots also contain lots of good fiber. Juice organic carrots with beet, a little green apple and ginger for a great tasting cancer fighter.
Cruciferous vegetables. So called because they come from plants in the family known to botanists as Cruciferae or alternately, Brassicaceae. Cruciferous vegetables are unique in that they are rich sources of sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates that are responsible for their pungent aromas and spicy (some say bitter) taste. The breakdown of glucosinolates by a class of plant enzymes called myrosinase results in the formation of biologically active compounds, such as indoles (which inactivate estrogens that cause tumor promotion so they are effective in fighting and preventing breast cancer) and isothiocyanates (which stimulate the breakdown of carcinogens). Scientists are currently interested in the potential for high intakes of cruciferous vegetables as well as several glucosinolate-breakdown products to prevent cancer. See my page “What is DIM?”.
Even the American Institute of Cancer Research has lots of information on its website “aicr.org” on the importance of cruciferous vegetables as cancer fighting foods. To take advantage of what they can do for you, eat broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, collard greens, rutabaga, kale, daikon, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, mustard greens, turnips, Brussel sprouts, watercress, wasabi, horseradish and radishes. They help reduce the absorption of carcinogens, stimulate certain enzymes to deactivate cancer cells and help activate helper T cells (a class of immune cells). Don’t boil these vegetables as that reduces their effectiveness – either eat them raw or lightly steamed.
In particular, broccoli contains Vitamin A, beta-carotene, and dithiolthiones, which stimulate the body’s immune system to fight cancer on its own. Brussel sprouts are loaded with beta-carotene, chlorophyll, Vitamins A and C, folate, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron and protein. Eating your Brussel sprouts helps you to retard many forms of cancer. Just don’t cook them to death and they’ll taste great!
Cabbage helps to protect against radiation, stimulates removal of toxic drugs and carcinogens, retards tumor growth. People who eat cabbage only once a week may decrease their odds of developing colon cancer by a very large percentage. Cabbage also contains a substance known as Vitamin U, believed to heal and assist peptic ulcers, and it contains chlorine and sulphur which work hand in hand to expel wastes from the body and clean the blood.
Kale is a rich source of beta-carotene and chlorophyll, two very potent cancer-fighting substances.
Watercress is high in Vitamin A, C and B complex, iodine, potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium. Watercress helps the immune system and has many health promoting properties.
Eggplant. Contains gallic acid which prevents carcinogens from causing cell damage. Also contains anthocyanins which have a mild anti-bacterial effect.
Garlic, Onions, Leeks and Chives. Great for the immune system, they contain organosulfur compounds that inhibit tumor promotion. Garlic has over 200 compounds besides sulphur, it also contains trace minerals including selenium. Sulfur is important because it is an antioxidant – it scavenges for free radicals. Research has indicated that kyolic garlic helps the immune system by enhancing the function of NK cells and has shown to decrease the size of the tumor. The most effective way to take kyolic garlic is to have it injected directly into the tumor, however, taking it orally is also very effective. Another compound in garlic is diallyl sulphide, which has been shown to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells and protect against skin cancer, as well as offering some protection against colon cancer. Garlic also prevents the conversion of nitrites into cancer-causing nitrosamines.
Onions are also a very good cancer fighting food. They are great for the immune system, containing silica, which is important for healthy blood circulation. The website www.whfoods.com advises: “The latest scientific research tells us that slicing, chopping or mincing onions before cooking will enhance their health-promoting properties. A sulfur-based compound called S-alk(en)yl-L-cysteine sulfoxide and an enzyme called sulfoxide lyase (also known as alliinase) are separated in the onion’s cell structure when it is whole. Cutting onion ruptures the cells and releases these elements, allowing them to come in contact with each other to form a powerful new compound called thiopropanal sulfoxide. This new compound not only increases onion’s health-promoting properties but is also the culprit behind their pungent aroma and the cause of the eye irritation that results from cutting onions. The finer the onion is cut, the more extensive is the transformation of the sulfur compounds. The stronger the smell and the more they affect your eyes, the more health-promoting nutrients they contain. So the next time you cut your onions, you will have a greater appreciation of its “irritating” effects, knowing that the pungent smell that makes you cry will also make you healthy! So, to get the most health benefits from onions, let them sit for a minimum of 5 minutes, and optimally for 10 minutes, after cutting, before eating or cooking. This is to ensure the maximum synthesis of the sulfur compounds. Heat will inactivate the effect of thiopropanal sulfoxide, which is why it is important to allow the onions to sit for 5-10 minutes before cooking to give the enzyme ample opportunity to enhance the concentration of active phytonutrients in your onions. Cooking at low or medium heat for short periods of time (up to 15 minutes) should not destroy the active phytonutrients since once they are formed, they are fairly stable.
Research on garlic, a close relative of onion, reinforces the validity of this practice. When crushed garlic was heated, its ability to inhibit cancer development in animals was blocked; yet, when the researchers allowed the chopped garlic to ‘stand’ for 10 minutes before heating, anticancer activity was preserved.”
Ginger. Besides being great for motion sickness and morning sickness associated with pregnancy, laboratory studies on ginger have demonstrated that it has some potent anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immune-stimulating and blood-sugar regulating properties! If you don’t like the way it tastes, you can try powdered ginger capsules. But it’s best fresh – look for a somewhat shiny root with plump “arms” or “knobs” – if it’s overly wrinkled or cracked, it is not all that fresh.
Green beans. A rich source of phytochemicals that are cancer fighters, also Vitamins A, E and C, some B vitamins, iron, magnesium, calcium, and manganese. Good for the heart, good source of fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates. Eat them lightly steamed or raw.
Green peppers (or capsicum). Rich in phytochemicals, Vitamin C and bioflavonoids (see Grapes), eating lots of green peppers actually help you absorb more vitamin C.
Nuts and Seeds. Nuts contain Vitamin E, selenium, and they all contain fiber, which helps to reduce the absorption of carcinogens. Better to avoid peanuts, unless they are organic because they grow in the ground. Eating seeds sounds boring, but they can add a lot of flavor to a meal and research shows that a high seed intake can decrease the risk of breast, colon and prostate cancer. Fenugreek seeds, flax seeds and sesame seeds contain antioxidants. Flax seeds and sesame seeds contain lignan, a phytoestrogen which is protective against breast and colon cancer. Pumpkin seeds have a high concentration of zinc and are helpful for male prostate problems.
Potatoes. Contain chlorogenic acid (see Apples) and eating potatoes regularly (not french fries!) is believed to help guard against several forms of cancer. Steam them with the skins on to keep the potassium content high. Potato juice is an age-old treatment for liver cancer. They are also a good source of magnesium, sulphur, silicon, iodine and chlorine and are good for increasing your energy levels.
Pumpkin. High in fiber and beta-carotene, which inhibits the early stages of tumor development and improves immune function.
Seaweeds and Sea Vegetables Containing abundant vitamins, minerals, polysaccharides and iodine, kelp is a great health promoting substance. Iodine is a necessary part of a healthy thyroid gland. The thyroid is responsible for good metabolism. Japanese studies have shown there to be a direct link between kelp consumption and the prevention of breast cancer.
Kelp also contains algin which enhances the immune system by stimulating T-cells, and it contains fucoidan, which is a mucopolysaccharide that stimulates the immune system and prevents cancer by retarding the growth of tumors and inhibiting chemical carcinogens. Alginate dilutes potential carcinogens in the intestine and binds to bile acids in the small intestine – this enhances their elimination and decreases the risk of colon cancer.
Wakame is a sea plant known to counteract the toxic effects of nicotine, so may help to prevent lung cancer. It is also a strong stimulant to the immune system. It also contains fucoidan.
Laminara is a type of kelp, and it also contains enormous quantities of vitamins and minerals, especially iodine. It has been used in the treatment of obesity, poor digestion, constipation, flatulence, and to protect against the effects of radiation. It is very beneficial in maintaining the function of the spinal cord, sensory nerves, brain tissue, and the membrane surrounding the brain. Some studies indicate it may play a large role in the prevention of breast cancer.
Dunaliella salina is a type of pink micro-algae found in sea salt fields – it grows very well in Western Australia. It is a wonderful antioxidant and studies show that it may inhibit breast cancer due to its high beta-carotene and antioxidant content.
Spinach. Research shows that people who consume spinach have a much lower risk of developing lung cancer. Spinach blocks the formation of nitrosamines, a carcinogen found in processed meats (see discussion above). Spinach also contains ferulic acid, an enzyme inhibitor that may assist in cancer prevention. It also has betacarotene and histidine and these help to eliminate toxins from the body and build the blood. Spinach also contains lutein, which protects the macula of the eye from degeneration.
Sweet potatoes. Full of fiber and high in beta-carotene, which inhibits the early stages of tumor development and improves immune function.
Wheat or Barley Grass – Fresh wheat or barley grass juice is a very potent blood purifier and helps transport oxygen to our cells. It also helps to detoxify the liver, and that makes it a superb overall cancer fighter. If you drink a lot of it, beware, because it can act as a natural laxative. People with wheat allergies have nothing to fear from this – although the grass is grown from grain, it morphs completely into a vegetable with none of the allergenic proteins common to the grain.
When going through cancer treatment, juicing is one of the very best things you can do for yourself. While you are actively fighting cancer, many naturopaths advise that consuming 4-6 juices throughout the day helps to prevent the growth of tumors and provides your body with a huge quantity of vitamins, minerals and enzymes, it requires minimal digestion and your body utilizes the nutrients very easily. Juices can help you detoxify and cleanse your body of unwanted chemicals, wastes and toxins and supply you with the badly needed nutrients you require to fight cancer. If they taste too strong for you, dilute them 50-50 with filtered water.
It is important to drink the juice within about 15-20 minutes after you make it (unless you have one of the juicers that do not damage the living enzymes in the juice). Use organic produce, wherever possible – you do not need to add to the toxic load your body is already undergoing from the cancer therapy. Add 1-2 tbsp flax seed oil to your juice to enhance its benefits.
“When raw juices are unlocked from plants, pure and vital liquids of great healing power are released and their infinitely gentle action can coax our bodies back to normality. Raw juices have none of the dangerous side effects associated with potent medical drugs, yet they can eliminate health problems arising from many of the deficiencies created from the hustle and bustle of today’s fast-paced world and nutrient deficient foods. Commercial fruit juices are less therapeutic than freshly squeezed juices, as many brands contain sugar, preservatives and other undesirable ingredients.” Katrina Ellis, Shattering the Cancer Myth, 2003.
Cancer Fighting Vitamins & Nutrients
Coenzyme Q10. This is an important one. A fat-soluble antioxidant, it improves aerobic metabolism, heart function, immune function and preserves immune cells. It minimizes the effects of chemotherapy-induced toxicity and research shows that doses over 300mg per day inhibits breast cancer tumor growth.
Curry and Turmeric. These spices contain curcumin which has been shown to inhibit tumor promotion. There’s a great article about it on canceractive.com.
Essential Fatty Acids. With 60 trillion cells in our body, the importance of getting the “good fats” into your body can’t be stressed enough. Here’s what they do for us:
*improved cell membranes
*increase prostaglandins 1 and 3, which enhances your immunity, reduces cell stickiness – thus reducing the spread of cancer cells, improved blood flow, reduction of inflammation
*alters bile acid metabolism (which may be important for colon cancer sufferers)
*they make cells more slippery, altering membrane fluidity
*can change response of tumor cells to growth factors, hormones and antibodies
Types of essential fatty acids:
EPA – eicosapentaenoic acid – fish oils
GLA – gamma linolenic acid – evening primrose
ALA – alpha linoleic acid – flaxseed oil
EPA is proposed to be a growth control factor. Fish oils interfere with the production of PGE2, a prostaglandin of which breast cancer patients appear to produce too much, and this can account for an inability to kill their cancer cells. Animal studies show it slows tumor growth. The amount of EPA necessary for an average adult to have measurable reduction in cell aggregation (stickiness) is 2-4 gm per day. (AUSTIN, S., HITCHCOCK, C.  Breast Cancer: What You Should Know [But May Not Be Told] About Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment, Prima Publishing, Rocklin, California)
Fish oils are actually able to change fat stores in breast tissue, and so prevent excess estrogen from being stored in the cells. (Good Medicine Magazine, August 2000)
EPA improves the response to tumor cells to hyperthermia and chemotherapeutic agents by altering the properties of the tumor cell membrane. EPA increases the adriamycin kill rate on cultured human leukemia cells. (QUILLIN, P.  Beating Cancer With Nutrition, The Nutrition Times Press, Tulsa, Oklahoma)
Vitamin C combined with GLA can double the mean survival time for patients with primary hepatic (liver) carcinoma.
Dr Quillin also mentioned research that demonstrated EPA and GLA separately were able to selectively kill cultured human tumor cells. EPA and GLA enhanced the tumor-killing ability of anti-cancer agents in vitro. EPA modulates estrogen metabolism for reduced risk in breast cancer. EPA rich diets can slow tumor growth through modulation of both tumor protein synthesis and breakdown.
On page 224, Quillin states: “Without proper use of fat soluble antioxidants, tumor cells may find the highly unsaturated fatty acids of EPA to be like an internal “hand grenade”.
Vitamin E warning – Watch your EPA intake as it can induce a Vit E deficiency. It’s suggested you take 400 iu of Vit E for every 2500 mg of EPA.
Pre-surgery warning – EPA reduces platelet aggregation so slows normal blood clotting. Don’t take it prior to surgery.
Toxicity warning – when buying fish oils, do a little research first and ensure that the maker uses only deep sea fish obtained from non-polluted waters. This is really important. I have found several good sources for fish oils, so please contact me if you’d like more information.
Flax seed Oil (ALA). This oil has been much studied for many decades and is believed to be a wonderful cancer fighter! Flax seeds are extremely rich in both alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid, zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, potassium and fiber. They also contain lignan, a phytoestrogen which is protective against breast and colon cancer. Flax seeds are believed to be very potent in inhibiting the side effects of cancer treatment, as well as inhibiting the further development of many forms of cancer.
Adding flax seed to the diet helps many functions of the body – liver function, protects against heart disease, relieves depression, accelerates healing, maintains flexibility of red blood cells, prevents fatty degeneration in the liver, lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels and helps the brain work better. Combined with cottage cheese, flax seed oil stimulates the oxygenation processes in the body which spells DEATH to cancer cells.
The latest information I have received is that rather than buying the oil in bottles, it is best to grind your own seeds and sprinkle the resultant powder into cereals, onto salads and even mixed with your vegetable juices. If buying it in bottles is the only way you’ll take it, do that but make sure it is refrigerated and just keep in mind that freshly ground flax seeds is the best and freshest way to obtain its nutrients.
Glutamine. An amino acid which supports and enhances the effects of chemotherapy and radiation, protects mucous membranes and gut lining to maintain healthy digestion. I found this helpful when going through chemotherapy because the drugs were targeting any rapidly growing cells and that means the cells of the entire gastro-intestinal tract (which have a high turnover rate) were affected. I’d get very painful mouth ulcers and the glutamine helped that, especially if I remembered to take it prior to an infusion.
Glutathione. Also an amino acid, it’s also a potent antioxidant and a regenerator of immune cells, especially T-cells. It’s a valuable detoxifying agent of heavy metals, alcohol, toxins, x-rays, pesticides and herbicides, it is produced by the body if there are sufficient quantities of selenium, magnesium and Vitamin C. It’s required for DNA synthesis and repair, protein and prostaglandin synthesis, amino acid transport, enzyme activation and even controls the action of insulin. Prescription drugs can deplete glutathione levels. To obtain it naturally, eat grapefruit, garlic, collard greens, onions, leeks, shallots, chives, broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach, eggplant, lettuce, mustard greens, peppers, cauliflower, green beans.
Green Tea. There is a lot of research that says drinking green tea is good for you – I’d go one step further and insist that it be organic green tea. The tea catechins (tannins) are potent inhibitors of platelet aggregation, and if you understand how cancer cells work, you’ll know that “platelet aggregation” is something to avoid. Green tea is a potent free radical scavenger and has anti-carcinogenic agents. We should all be drinking more green tea because it’s a wonderful cancer fighting food. By the way, you can get organic green tea from my “Useful Links” page – scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Probiotics. Enhance immune function – they can halt the conversion of nitrates (see Processed Meats above) to carcinogenic nitrosamines in the gut, they can deactivate carcinogenic enzymes. Taken over several months, acidophilus can increase gamma-interferon and reduce inflammation in the gut. Lactobacillus bulgaricus (another probiotic) can enhance IgE (an immunoglobulin). Probiotics can also help the liver metabolize excess estrogen and eliminate it from the body.
Resveratrol. A recent Spanish study (and here’s the link to it) shows that Resveratrol, which is derived from the common grape, is capable of decreasing cell proliferation and increasing apoptosis (planned cell death) which is so crucial in fighting cancer. See your naturopath for the correct dosage.
Selenium. Shown in multiple studies to be an effective tool in warding off various types of cancer, including breast, esophageal, stomach, prostate, liver and bladder cancers. We rarely get the recommended dose of 200 mcg per day. Most only get between 60-100 micrograms of selenium daily from dietary sources, according to the Life Extension Foundation’s Disease Prevention and Treatment. In addition, selenium has also been shown to aid in slowing cancer’s progression in patients that already have it. According to the Life Extension Foundation, the use of selenium during chemotherapy in combination with vitamin A and vitamin E can reduce the toxicity of chemotherapy drugs. The mineral also helps “enhance the effectiveness of chemo, radiation, and hyperthermia while minimizing damage to the patient’s normal cells” says Patrick Quillin in Beating Cancer with Nutrition.
Turmeric. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, and it has been linked to a range of health benefits. Studies have already shown that it can beat cancer cells grown in a laboratory. In this German study published in Feb 2013, it was found that curcumin enhanced the effect of 5-FU chemotherapy against colorectal cancer cells. In this Jan 2013 Chinese study, it was reported that curcumin helped to reverse chemo-resistance and sensitized cancer cells to chemotherapy. Turmeric is not a spice that is often used in Western culture, but I would strongly suggest adding this in to your cooking – it is wonderful in curries – and you can also take it in a supplement.
Vitamin D. I wrote a whole article on this one – I’d definitely include vitamin D in your regimen.