"Let your food be your medicine," said Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine (460-377 B.C.). His wise words are as true today as they were more than 2,400 years ago. Hippocrates knew that nutrition played a major role in good health, and modern science has found that specific foods can help fight one of modern man's most feared diseases — cancer.
Add these foods to your cancer-fighting arsenal:
Grapes contain several powerful nutrients that keep cancer at bay. Bioflavanoids, resveratrol, and ellagic acid block enzymes that are essential for cancers to thrive. The bioflavanoid quercetin works with vitamin C (also found in grapes) to fight cancer, including cancers of the breast and colon.
A soothing cup of tea offers powerful cancer protection. "A wealth of scientific research shows that drinking tea regularly, especially green and white tea, helps thwart cancer," says Dr. Russell Blaylock, author of The Blaylock Wellness Report. "Types of cancer inhibited by tea include colon, breast, prostate, lung, melanoma, ovarian, and bladder."
Garlic contains allium compounds, which keep carcinogens from entering cells. According to studies, garlic — as well as onions, leeks, and chives — lowers the risk of stomach and colon cancer. A study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that people who regularly eat garlic have half the risk of stomach cancer and two-thirds the risk of colorectal cancer when compared to people who shunned garlic.
Raspberries contain many nutrients, such as anthocyanins, that protect against cancer. A study found that rats fed a diet of 5 to 10 percent black raspberries reduced the number of esophageal tumors by 43 to 62 percent, and another study found a reduction in colon cancer. Many berries, including strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries contain ellagic acid which slows tumor growth. Two specific polyphenols, anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins, encourage cell death.
Powerful compounds in mushrooms, especially a protein called lectin, attack cancerous cells and prevent them from growing and multiplying. Researchers at New York Medical Center combined maitake mushrooms with interferons — anti-cancer proteins used to boost the immune system — to make a potent cancer-killing cocktail that shrank cancerous tumors up to 75 percent. They believe the combination works by switching on an enzyme that controls the growth of cancer and stops the disease from spreading. In Japan, mushroom extracts have been used in conjunction with chemotherapy for years.
Tomatoes are chock-full of lycopene, an antioxidant that mops up free radicals that are suspected of triggering cancer. Cooking concentrates the nutrient, and, according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, men who ate 10 servings of tomato-based foods weekly slashed their risk of prostate cancer by 45 percent. Lycopene has been found to reduce the risk of developing cancer of the lung, colon, breast, cervix, and mouth.
All cruciferous vegetables, which include broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, contain a chemical called indole-3 carbinol that lowers the odds of developing breast cancer by converting estrogen, which promotes cancer, into a version that's more protective. Broccoli also contains a phytochemical called sulforaphane, which studies have indicated prevents colon cancer.
A Harvard study found that men who ate fish more than three times a week cut their chances of developing advanced prostate cancer by 40 percent. The main cancer-fighter is probably omega-3 oils, but generous amounts of vitamins A and D may also help. Dr. Michael F. Leitzmann, a coauthor of the study, suggests spacing fish consumption throughout the week.
Don't relegate cranberries to Thanksgiving. University of California researchers found that cranberries contain the phytochemicals phenolic acids, glycosides, and anthocyanins, that block cancerous tumors both high and low — in the head and neck as well as in the colon and prostate. The phytochemicals force cancer cells to commit apoptosis — in short, to kill themselves. Drink a small glass of juice (contains at least 27 percent cranberry juice) daily and snack on dried cranberries