My father has Stage IV Metastatic Lung Cancer. It is a harshly bleak diagnosis, one that a year later my family is still struggling to cope with.
Cancer is an appallingly destructive disease that touches us all in one way or another. According to The National Cancer Institute, during 2016:
- An estimated 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the US
- Approximately 595,690 people in the US will die from cancer
Rising cancer rates
This hasn’t always been the case. Not only are cancer rates rising, they are higher in Western countries than other areas of the world. There are a number of reasons for this, including increasing lifespans and increased ability to detect cancer; however, approximately 30% of modern cancers are now estimated to be caused by diet2.
Scientific studies have shown that diets of processed red meat, fried food, refined white flour, sugar and alcohol, are all capable of causing cancer. But just as food can cause cancer, diet can also be used to help the body fight back against the disease.
When my father asked his oncologist if there was anything he could change in his diet to support his chemotherapy regime, his oncologist said no. He said that while a healthy, balanced diet should of course be recommended, my father couldn’t affect the spread or progression of his cancer with food.
I was shocked to hear him say this, because scientific studies being conducted by researchers all around the world, tell us that this isn’t true.
Studies on compounds such as lycopene in tomatoes3,4,5, glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables6,7,8, catechins in green tea9,10,11 and curcumin in turmeric12,13,14 have all been shown to have anti-cancer effects. In other words, these compounds are able to act on cancer cells to stop them from developing, growing and/or spreading.
Diet can prevent cancer developing, diet can help to mobilize the immune system, and diet can deliver anti-cancer compounds into the body. The concept of using anti-cancer foods in the fight against cancer can be clearly explained using current scientific findings and logical scientific conjecture.
Waiting for the medical profession
The amount of research in this area is still in its infancy. Many of the studies so far have been carried out on tumour cells in vitro (outside of the body in petri dishes) or in small animal models such as mice. Until investigations have been extensively carried out on human populations, in double-blind studies, the medical profession won’t tell you to complement your cancer therapy with diet.
These extensive human studies are being carried out now and in five years’ time, this dietary advice might be given freely by oncologists to their cancer patients. Do you have five years or so to wait? My Dad doesn’t.
- Can eating anti-cancer foods help to prevent you from developing cancer? Yes
- Can eating anti-cancer foods help your body to fight cancer? Absolutely
To learn more about the intricate relationship between food and cancer, the E-book ‘Food to Fight Cancer: What Your Doctors Aren’t Ready to Tell You’ is available to purchase now on Amazon Kindle. The E-book explores, in detail, the current scientific findings into food that promotes cancer, and food that fights cancer. Learn how to incorporate these findings into your own diet and find some delicious anti-cancer recipes to help you get started.
You can also visit www.thegreenappleclub.com to find out more about how the food we eat directly affects our health.
- National Cancer Institute. Available from: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics, [Accessed 2nd May 2016].
- Anand, P et al. Cancer is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes. Pharm Res [Online] 2008; 25(9): 2097–2116. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515569/ [Accessed 25th April 2016].
- Teodoro, AJ et al. Effect of lycopene on cell viability and cell cycle progression in human cancer cell lines. Cancer Cell Int [Online] 2012; 12: 36. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3492052/ [Accessed 25th April 2016].
- Hwang ES, Bowen PE. Cell cycle arrest and induction of apoptosis by lycopene in LNCaP human prostate cancer cells. J Med Food [Online] 2004; 7(3): 284-9. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15383220 [Accessed 25th April 2016].
5. Pet, P et al. Lycopene induces cell growth inhibition by altering mevalonate pathway and Ras signaling in cancer cell lines. Carcinogenesis [Online] 2010; 31(10): 1813-21. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20699249 [Accessed 25th April 2016].
- Hayes, JD, Kelleher, MO, and Eggleston, IM. The cancer chemopreventive actions of phytochemicals derived from glucosinolates. Eur J Nutr [Online] 2008; 47 (2):73-88. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18458837 [Accessed 20th April 2016].
- Hecht, SS. Inhibition of carcinogenesis by isothiocyanates. Drug Metab Rev [Online] 2000; 32(3-4):395-411. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11139137 [Accessed 20th April 2016].
- Murillo, G, Mehta RG. Cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention. Nutr Cancer [Online] 2001; 41(1-2):17-28. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12094621 [Accessed 20th April 2016].
- Du, GJ, et al. Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) Is the Most Effective Cancer Chemopreventive Polyphenol in Green Tea. Nutrients [Online] 2012; 4(11): 1679–1691. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509513/ [Accessed 20th April 2016].
- Singh, BN, Shankar, S, and Srivastava, RK. Green tea catechin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG): mechanisms, perspectives and clinical applications. Biochem Pharmacol [Online] 2011; 82(12): 1807–1821. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4082721/ [Accessed 20thApril 2016].
- Sun, CL, Yuan, JM, Koh, WP, Yu, MC. Green tea, black tea and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. Carcinogenesis [Online] 2006; 27(7): 1310-5. Available from: http://carcin.oxfordjournals.org/content/27/7/1310.long [Accessed 20th April 2016].
- Wilken, R, Veena, SM, Wang, MB, and Srivatsan, ES. Curcumin: A review of anti-cancer properties and therapeutic activity in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Mol Cancer [Online] 2011; 10: 12. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3055228/. Accessed 19th April 2016].
- Garg, A and Aggarwal, BB. Nuclear transcription factor-kappaB as a target for cancer drug development. Leukemia [Online] 2002; 16(6): 1053-68. Available from: http://www.nature.com/leu/journal/v16/n6/full/2402482a.html. [Accessed 19th April 2016].
- 14. Aggarwal, BB, Kumar, A and Bharti, AC. Anticancer potential of curcumin: preclinical and clinical studies. Anticancer Res [Online] 2003; 23(1A): 363-98. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12680238. [Accessed 19th April 2016].
Image Credits: Wikimedia