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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.
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.) Omega-3 dha supplements from Dr. Sears can be added to the morning oatmeal for added health benefits.
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.
Too much body fat is one of the leading risk factors for cancer, especially colorectal cancer. Obesity is also a risk factor for breast cancer ; increased fat tissue raises circulating estrogen levels, which increase the risk of breast cancer. Vegetarian women who typically consume a low-fat, high-fiber diet tend to have lower blood levels of estrogen, excrete more estrogen in their stools, and therefore are less prone to breast cancer. Obese men have a higher rate of prostate cancer . The two ways to stay lean are to exercise and to maintain healthy eating habits.
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.
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.
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.
Antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E and beta carotene, seem to have a synergistic effect when taken together. So, eating lots of fruits and vegetables in a salad together produces a greater anti-cancer effect than eating each one individually.
Beginning in 1976 a group of researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health set out to study the role of dietary factors in colon cancer and test some of the theories suggested by earlier studies. They followed 88,000 healthy women, ages 34 to 59 years of age, and discovered these correlations:
No association was found between the risk of colon cancer and vegetable fat or linoleic acid (the most abundant polyunsaturated fat) in the diet.
The reason for the red meat-colon cancer connection is still being studied. Current research suggests a combination of factors. High fat diets increase the excretion of intestinal bile acids, which act as tumor promoters. Some processed meats contain nitrosamines , which can be carcinogenic to the colon. Also, compared with vegetarians, meat-eating persons have different colonic flora. The effects of the meat may cause intestinal bacteria to transform bile acids into potential carcinogens.
In a fourteen-year study of 16,000 Swedish men and women, the foods that were associated with the highest risk of colon cancer were beef and lamb. As a lambchop lover, I took this study personally. Whenever our local meat market got in a shipment of lambchops, I stocked up. A month after my colon cancer was diagnosed, Martha took the thirty pounds of lambchops that were in our freezer back to the market and traded them in for salmon.
Not only can red meat itself be carcinogenic, but how you prepare it can also elevate the cancer risk. Grilling under high heat (such as searing or flame-cooking meat to well- done) can release carcinogens into the meat called heterocyclicamines, which can damage cellular DNA. Poaching , stewing, microwaving , or slow low-heat cooking releases fewer carcinogens.
American women, especially those whose diets are low in soy products, are four times more likely to die of breast cancer than Japanese women whose diets are plentiful in soy. The reason this reduced risk is contributed mainly to the soy and not to the genes is that even in their own country those Japanese who eat the most soy foods get the least cancer. Soy seems to protect against the most common types of cancer, including lung, rectal, colon, stomach, prostate, and breast. Experimental animals who are fed high soy diets and then given a chemical that causes cancer, develop fewer tumors than the animals who are not fed soy. And you don't need to eat much to reap the benefits. One serving of soy (equal to a 1/2 cup of cooked soybeans, tofu, tempeh, or one cup of soy milk) a day can lessen the risk of cancer.
GENISTEIN CONTENT IN SOYThe isoflavone in soy that has the most potent anticancer properties is genistein. The highest content of genistein is found in these soy foods, rated from highest to lowest:
Be sure to consume soy products from a manufacturer that uses a water extraction process and not alcohol extraction, which can remove much of the genistein from the soy. Check the label or call the manufacturer.
Monounsaturated oils, such as olive oil, also play a role in cancer prevention. Populations with an olive oil -rich diet, such as Mediterranean cuisine, have a lower incidence of cancer. Greek women, who tend to have an olive-oil rich diet, have a much lower risk of breast cancer. One study found that the incidence of breast cancer correlated with the amount of hydrogenated oils in the womens' diets. As much as possible, avoid saturated and hydrogenated oils. (For more information, see All About Oils.
Beta carotene. Beta carotene fights against cancer by both boosting the immune system and releasing a specific chemical called tumor necrosis factor. Beta carotene can block the growth of potentially cancerous cells. The recommended cancer prevention dose of beta carotene is 15 to 25 mg. per day (around 30,000 IU). This is about ten times the amount in the average American diet, but it's actually easy to get enough beta carotene in your diet without taking supplements. Best sources of beta carotene are sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, pumpkins, butternut and other types of winter squash, spinach, broccoli, mango, and papaya. Eating pink grapefruit (which contains beta carotene) instead of white grapefruit gives you a beta carotene boost. You could get enough protective beta carotene each day by eating: half a sweet potato, half a cup of pumpkin, two medium-size carrots, 1.5 cups of cooked spinach, or two medium-size mangos. Best sources of beta carotene are these:
Tomatoes contain lycopene, which enhances the absorption and utilization of beta carotene, so eating tomatoes with beta carotene-rich foods provides an added boost. Carrots and tomatoes are a good combination.
Vitamin C. A big dose of vitamin C fights the big "C." Studies have shown that persons with the highest intake of vitamin C have the lowest incidence of intestinal cancers. Vitamin C blocks the formation of nitrosamines in the gut. These are potent carcinogens made from nitrates and nitrites found in food, especially processed meats. Vitamin C also boosts the immune system by increasing the production of lymphocytes. Best sources of vitamin C are fresh fruits and vegetables. Taking 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily may have anticancer benefits.
Vitamin E. The anti-cancer properties in vitamin E are similar to vitamin C. In a ten-year study that followed 21,000 men, those with high levels of vitamin E in their diet showed a 30 percent lower risk of all types of cancer. Women with low blood levels of vitamin E and selenium had ten times the risk of breast cancer in one study. In another study at the University of Toronto, researchers gave colon cancer patients vitamin C and E supplements after surgery and found two years later that the supplements reduced the recurrence of precancerous colon polyps by 20 percent. Studies suggest a dose of 200 to 400 IU a day, which is nearly impossible to get from foods. You may get less than ten percent of this amount from even the best diet. . To help your children lead a healthy life, Little Champions Multivitamin has 50mg of Vitamin C and 15IU Vitamin E per pill. They are also fruit based so children love the taste of them.
Whether or not natural vitamin E from foods or the factory-made vitamin is biologically better is still a subject of debate, yet the natural vitamin E may be more biologically active. Natural vitamin E is recognized on the package label by the "d" prefix or "d-alpha tocophenol;" the synthetic compound will have a "dl" prefix.
Vitamin D . Vitamin D, which you get from exposure to sunshine (around 10 to 15 minutes a day) and from vitamin D-fortified milk and other foods, has anticancer properties. It suppresses angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels that nourish the growth of tumors. The rates of breast, prostate, and colon cancer are lower in climates that have the most sunshine. Low levels of vitamin D have been found in some people with colon cancer. Women whose diets are high in vitamin D have a lower risk of breast cancer.
Selenium. This overlooked mineral is a potent antioxidant or scavenger of carcinogenic free radicals. Studies have shown a lower incidence of colon cancer in people taking selenium supplements in the range of 100 to 200 mcg a day. Studies have shown that persons who have lower levels of selenium in their blood are more likely to have colon polyps, and those with higher levels of selenium have much less of a chance of getting cancer. Selenium is most effective when taken along with foods or supplements that are high in vitamin E. Consider taking 100 mcg of selenium a day as a supplement. Best sources of selenium in food are fish (especially red snapper) lobster, shrimp, whole grains, and vegetables, depending on the selenium content of the soil they're grown in. Other sources include: brown rice, cottage cheese, lambchops, chicken (white meat), sunflower seeds, and garlic.
Acidophilus. These intestinal-friendly bacteria have been shown to have anti-cancer properties. They promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon and reduce the conversion of bile acids into carcinogens. Studies have shown that consuming dietary supplements of lactobacillus acidophilus greatly diminishes the level of colon enzymes that produce carcinogenic decomposition products from food. In studies on experimental animals, 75 percent of the animals tested showed slower tumor growth when fed yogurt containing live bacterial cultures.
Populations such as the Finns who have a diet relatively high in fat but who also eat a lot of fiber and a lot of yogurt, have a relatively low incidence of colon cancer. In an experiment in which carcinogens were given to rats, the animals that were fed large amounts of lactobacillus acidophilus developed less colon cancer compared with those who were not given doses of these health-promoting bacteria. Take 1 to 2 teaspoons of live lactobacillus daily, the one that is in the refrigerated section of the nutrition store. This can be added to a smoothie or a shake. Or, eat yogurt with the L.A.C. (live active cultures) seal.
Garlic.Whether or not garlic has health-promoting and anticancer properties is still controversial, but it's possible that garlic may have some anticancer benefits. The Kyolic brand of garlic supplements seems to be the most thoroughly tested and the one that is often used in research studies.
Green tea.Green tea has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, possibly because of a phytochemical it contains called "catechins."