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January 17, 2022

Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumors and neoplasms. One defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs; the latter process is referred to as metastasis. Metastases are the primary cause of death from cancer.

They are taunted by the excitement of the latest breakthroughs — immunotherapy, precision medicine, gene therapies, and the like — only to learn that none are deemed suitable for them. People with metastatic cancer know all too well that cancer kills people every day.

The most common in 2020 (in terms of new cases of cancer) were:

  • breast (2.26 million cases);

  • lung (2.21 million cases);

  • colon and rectum (1.93 million cases);

  • prostate (1.41 million cases);

  • skin (non-melanoma) (1.20 million cases); and

  • stomach (1.09 million cases).

The most common causes of cancer death in 2020 were:

  • lung (1.80 million deaths);

  • colon and rectum (935 000 deaths);

  • liver (830 000 deaths);

  • stomach (769 000 deaths); and

  • breast (685 000 deaths).

When we talk about cancer and when we talk to people about their cancers, we betray our fear of this potentially life-ending disease.

What causes cancer?

Cancer arises from the transformation of normal cells into tumor cells in a multi-stage process that generally progresses from a precancerous lesion to a malignant tumor. These changes are the result of the interaction between a person's genetic factors and three categories of external agents, including:

  • physical carcinogens, such as ultraviolet and ionizing radiation;

  • chemical carcinogens, such as asbestos, components of tobacco smoke, aflatoxin (a food contaminant), and arsenic (a drinking water contaminant); and

  • biological carcinogens, such as infections from certain viruses, bacteria, or parasites.

Reducing the cancer burden

Growing evidence points to certain dietary habits increasing or decreasing cancer risk. However, observational studies have repeatedly indicated that high consumption of certain foods may increase the likelihood of developing cancer.

Between 30 and 50% of cancers can currently be prevented by avoiding risk factors and implementing existing evidence-based prevention strategies. The cancer burden can also be reduced through early detection of cancer and appropriate treatment and care of patients who develop cancer. Many cancers have a high chance of cure if diagnosed early and treated appropriately.

Higher consumption of foods rich in sugar and refined carbs, as well as processed and overcooked meat, can increase your risk of cancer. In addition, higher dairy consumption has been linked to prostate cancer.

Cancer Support & Prevention Through Nutrition

An anti-cancer diet is an important strategy you can use to reduce your risk of cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends, for example, that you eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily and eat the right amount of food to stay at a healthy weight. In addition, researchers are finding that certain foods that prevent cancer and support the fight against may be an important part of an anti-cancer diet.

Although selecting cancer-fighting foods at the grocery store and at mealtime can't guarantee cancer prevention, good choices may help reduce your risk.

Although selecting cancer-fighting foods at the grocery store and at mealtime can't guarantee cancer prevention or recovery, good choices may help reduce your risk.

What To Eat For Maximum Cancer Support & Prevention

Plant-based foods are rich in nutrients known as antioxidants that boost your immune system and help protect against cancer cells.

  • Eating superfoods high in antioxidants such as turmeric & moringa lowers the risk of all cancers.

  • Diets high in fruit may lower the risk of stomach and lung cancer.

  • Eating vegetables containing carotenoids, such as carrots, Brussels sprouts, and squash, may reduce the risk of lung, mouth, pharynx, and larynx cancers.

  • Diets high in non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, and beans, may help protect against stomach and esophageal cancer.

  • Eating oranges, berries, peas, bell peppers, dark leafy greens and other foods high in vitamin C may also protect against esophageal cancer.

  • Foods high in lycopene, such as tomatoes, guava, and watermelon, may lower the risk of prostate cancer.

Nutritional Complementary Cancer Support & Prevention

Many people with cancer inquire about herbal medicine as a complementary therapy after reading anecdotal reports of herbal cancer cures online. 

Superfoods are foods — mostly plant-based but also some fish and dairy — that are thought to be nutritionally dense and thus, good for one’s health. They have high vitamin and mineral content. Of late superfoods have become a term that is synonymous with ultra-healthy, nutrient-packed, plant-based foods and supplements.

Turmeric is a spice well-known for its health-promoting properties. Curcumin, its active ingredient, is a chemical with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and even anticancer effects.

One study looked at the effects of curcumin on 44 patients with lesions in the colon that could have become cancerous. After 30 days, 4 grams of curcumin daily reduced the number of lesions present by 40%.

In a test-tube study, curcumin was also found to decrease the spread of colon cancer cells by targeting a specific enzyme related to cancer growth. Another test-tube study showed that curcumin helped kill off head and neck cancer cells.

Moringa is another superfood that has many important vitamins and minerals. The leaves have 7 times more vitamin C than oranges and 15 times more potassium than bananas. It also has calcium, protein, iron, and amino acids, which help your body heal and support cancer healing.

It's also packed with antioxidants, substances that can protect cells from damage and may boost your immune system. There's some evidence that some of these antioxidants can also lower blood pressure. It's traditionally been used as a remedy for such conditions as diabetes, long-lasting inflammation, bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, joint pain, heart health, and especially cancer.

If you have a history of cancer in your family, making small changes to your diet and behaviors now can make a big difference to your long-term health. And if you’ve already been diagnosed with cancer, eating a nutritious diet can help support your mood and strengthen your body during this challenging time.

As new research continues to emerge, it has become increasingly clear that your diet can have a major impact on your risk of cancer.