Exactly how do foods impact our ability to fight cancer? We started talking about that in Part I of The Basics. I owe you a better explanation. Foods– or the compounds in them–exert anti-cancer activity in many ways, including
● encouraging cancer cells to mature into healthy tissue (differentiation) or to commit suicide (apoptosis) like normal cells do
● stopping cancer cells from producing the blood vessels they then use to grow and spread (anti-angiogenesis)
● interfering with processes, such as elevations in blood glucose, that promote growth
● reducing the effects of hormones and other factors that fuel growth (estrogen, insulin and its relative, insulin growth factor 1)
● controlling inflammation, which suppresses the immune system and secretes signals that tell tumors to grow and spread
●enhancing the immune system directly and helping it find and kill cancerous cells
● protecting DNA from damage caused by carcinogens via their effects on certain enzymes, and
● protecting DNA from damage caused by highly sensitive oxygen molecules, generated through normal cell metabolism, that go astray (reactive oxygen species or ROS or free radicals, which antioxidants in the foods we eat can scavenge.)
In 2007, an international panel of esteemed scientists released the most comprehensive study of nutrition and cancer to date.The research team reviewed thousands of studies and concluded:
“Most diets that are protective against cancer are mainly made up from foods of plant origins. … Eat mostly foods of plant origin.”
But you knew that already, didn’t you? So do you know which plant foods rate better than others? And what was the most surprising finding in the study’s hundreds of pages?
You can read the report here,* or stick around for the anti-cancer highlights.
World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research’s Second Expert Report entitled “Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and The Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective (2007)” along with revisions and updates are available at www.dietandcancerreport.org.