Each year, over 10 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer, one million of them are Americans. While there is a common misconception that whether or not you will get cancer is pretty much luck of the draw, in reality, only about 10 percent of cancers are attributable to genetic factors. As many as 90 percent of all cancers can be blamed squarely on lifestyle and environmental factors, and are entirely avoidable. And there is even more good news: An article in the journal Nature states that a third of all cancer deaths are totally preventable “through increased consumption of natural compounds” which prevent cell duplication and induce apoptosis (cancer cell suicide).
These powerful phytochemicals include curcumin, ursolic acid, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, resveratrol, sulforaphane and 6-shogaol. But, how exactly do they prevent cancer?
UT News explains that one way in which these special compounds fight cancer is by preventing inflammation. Chronic inflammation caused by conditions like obesity, autoimmune diseases and chronic infections causes cell damage, which in turn leads to cancer.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as many as 15 percent of all cancers are attributable to infections like Helicobacter pylori, human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B and C, and Epstein-Barr virus. These powerhouse compounds strengthen the immune system to fight off such diseases, another way in which they indirectly help prevent cancer.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these potent cancer-fighting compounds.
Curcumin, the anti-inflammatory ingredient in turmeric, has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for thousands of years. A 2011 study by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discovered that curcumin has the amazing ability to differentiate between normal, healthy cells and cancer cells, causing apoptosis in the diseased cells, while improving the cellular health of the non-cancerous cells.
When DNA damage occurs, a chain reaction of gene activation or inactivation is triggered, which results in cells becoming cancerous. The researchers determined that curcumin halts cancer in its tracks by modulating this process.
Another study by researchers from the Zheijian Provincial People’s Hospital in China discovered that curcumin can even trigger apoptosis in triple-negative breast cancer cells, which are totally resistant to all conventional treatment.
Resveratrol is a naturally-occurring polyphenol compound found in grapes, red wine and chocolate, and is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center reports that in animal trials, resveratrol was found to have antitumor properties and reduce cancer-causing inflammation.
A 2012 study by the University of Missouri School of Medicine reported that resveratrol naturally boosts production of two proteins known as perforin and granzyme B, which together target harmful cancer cells throughout the body. Prostate tumor cells already contain both these proteins, but resveratrol helps to produce even more of them, greatly boosting the chances of apoptosis and recovery.
Sulforaphane is a compound found in all cruciferous veggies, and particularly in broccoli. While mature broccoli still contains sulforaphane, levels are highest in young broccoli sprouts.
A groundbreaking 1991 cancer prevention study by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine focused on sulforaphane as a potent cancer preventer. The researchers found that this compound boosts Phase 2 enzymes in the body, which “neutralize the processes of disease.”
The Truth About Cancer reports, “[The] team fed broccoli sprout extracts to female rats for five days. They then exposed them and a control group to a carcinogen. The rats that had received the extract developed fewer tumors. Those that did have tumors developed smaller ones that took longer to grow than the control group’s did.”
It is heartening to know that some simple lifestyle changes like losing weight, incorporating daily exercise, opting for organic fruits and veggies and increasing consumption of these miracle compounds can significantly reduce our chances of getting cancer. So, drink more red wine, have some dark chocolate every day, find ways to incorporate turmeric, eat more broccoli sprouts, and give cancer the kiss of death! [RELATED: Discover more of nature’s medicine at Nutrients.news]