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9 Natural Foods That Could Lower Your Risk of Cancer

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By Apollo 24/7, Published on- 03 February 2021, Updated on - 20 September 2022

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Cancer is a disease caused by an uncontrolled division and growth of abnormal cells in a part of the body. In some cases, these cells can spread to other body parts through blood or lymph systems. There are several risk factors for developing cancer out of which a few factors such as genetics and environment cannot be controlled. However, research suggests that controllable lifestyle factors can lower the risk of cancer. These include a healthy diet, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular physical activity. Amongst these factors, diet is known to play an important role in cancer development and prevention. Studies indicate that certain foods contain beneficial compounds which can prevent the growth of cancer cells.

Healthy diet to reduce cancer risk

A healthy diet that improves overall health and lowers the risk of cancer include:
  • Foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
  • Low-calorie foods to keep the body weight in a healthy range.
  • Vegetables of various colours such as dark green, red, and orange.
  • Fibre-rich foods like beans and peas.
  • Whole-grain foods such as whole-wheat bread, pasta, and brown rice.
  • Low-fat dairy products and a moderate amount of lean protein.

Recommended Read: 7 Warning Signs of Cancer

Foods that lower the risk of cancer

Foods that are rich in disease-fighting antioxidants (substances that protect the cells against oxidants which cause cell damage) and anti-inflammatory compounds are shown to help fight cancer.
These foods include:
  1. Berries: Berries contain powerful antioxidants and are rich in vitamins and minerals. Berries also possess anti-inflammatory properties that prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells.
  2. Cruciferous vegetables: Vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts contain vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. A compound called sulforaphane present in these vegetables is shown to exhibit anticancer properties.
  3. Tomatoes: Tomatoes contain vitamin C, vitamin E, and an antioxidant known as lycopene. Lycopene is a red-coloured carotenoid that has cancer-fighting properties.
  4. Carrots: Carrots are loaded with essential nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin A, and antioxidants. They contain high levels of beta-carotene which enhances immune functions that prevent cancer.
  5. Fatty fish: Fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, and potassium. Omega-3 fatty acids are shown to prevent or delay tumour cell growth.
  6. Apples: Apples contain compounds called polyphenols that possess anti-cancer properties. The polyphenol phloretin is known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
  7. Walnuts: Walnuts alter gene expression related to tumour growth, survival, and the spread of cancer. A compound called pedunculagin in walnuts is metabolized into urolithins. Urolithins bind to oestrogen receptors helping in breast cancer prevention.
  8. Legumes: Legumes such as beans, lentils, and peas contain high fibre content. Fibre helps to build a healthy community of microorganisms in the digestive system which is associated with a lowered risk of cancer.
  9. Spices: Antioxidants like curcumin, eugenol, and capsaicin found in the Indian spices turmeric, clove, and red pepper respectively are known to prevent and support the treatment of cancer. These antioxidants work by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death), migration and invasion of tumours, and sensitizing chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Recommended Read: 7 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Cancer

Conclusion

Dietary factors can make a significant difference in lowering cancer risk. One should eat plenty of healthy, nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich plant-based foods. At the same time, it is important to limit unhealthy fats, processed and fried foods, sugars, and refined carbohydrates. Research suggests that making healthy food choices consistently over time can reduce the risk of developing cancer.

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