Choose ten foods with strong cancer-prevention properties:

Cancer-prevention in one sense is not possible because most of us already have microscopic cancer cells in our bodies. The maddening thing about cancer has always been that it is an advanced disease by the time it is discovered. This is because cancer begins at the cellular level and at that point is virtually undetectable. Preventing cancer is about providing our body the tools needed to kill the microscopic cancer cells or block their growth before they have a chance to grow.

Cells are constantly faced with the decision of whether to multiply (through cell division), or die. A small number of genes regulate the growth of cells. Some of these genes encourage cell growth and some prevent it. Many of the agents known to cause cancer (chemicals, viruses, and radiation) exert their effects by inducing changes in these genes that can trigger uncontrolled cell growth or cancer.

Healthy cells are able to identify and repair defective DNA segments that arise in the normal course of a cell's life. When this occurs, it will stop dividing until the damage has been repaired. If the damage can’t be repaired, the cell may activate a suicide program called apoptosis, or programmed cell death. If the attempt on its own life fails, the chances that mutations in the cell’s DNA increase. The increase in mutations in the cell’s DNA can lead to unregulated cell growth and the development of cancer.

Our diet can either prevent cancer or cause cancer.Typically, the American diet is a cancer promoting diet, which is:

  • high in animal fat and low in plant based foods,
  • High in sugar,
  • low in fiber,
  • low in Omega 3 fats,
  • high in processed fats and Omega 6 fatty acids,
  • high in unnatural substances (chemicals) such as aspartame, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and other dangerous food additives.

The modern American diet is full of Omega 6 fatty acids (such as those found in corn, safflower, peanut, and canola oils) but low in Omega 3 fatty acids. Increasing Omega 3 intake can improve blood flow, reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, improve brain function, reduce inflammation, improve the immune system, and assist in cancer-prevention.

Meat consumption has been linked to cancer. One of the most common diseases of cattle is cancer, primarily lymphoma and leukemia. Studies have shown that these two forms of cancer are caused by viruses. While cooking may destroy the organisms, eating rare beef is risky. There is no solid scientific proof that these viruses cause cancer in humans but there is compelling circumstantial evidence. The common recommendation for cancer-prevention is to eat no more than six ounces of meat with each meal.

Avoid processed meats such as lunch meats, hot dogs, and bacon because they contain nitrates and nitrites, which are converted to a powerful cancer causing substances in the stomach called nitrosamines. Fortunately, vitamin C inhibits the formation of these nitrosamines.

Sugar is a very toxic substance. High sugar consumption is known to suppress the immune system increasing the likelihood of bacterial infections, chronic viral sickness, and even cancer. It is known that sugar is a major fuel for cancer. High sugar consumption can also stress the pancreas. If the pancreas is continually stressed over a long period of time, it may stop producing insulin resulting in diabetes. Stop eating added sugar and starve cancer.

Cancer-prevention begins and ends with a healthy lifestyle including a change in eating habits. We have known for a long time that people who eat the most fruits and vegetables and other plant foods are less likely to get cancer. Fruits and vegetables are a significant foundation for an anticancer diet. The anticancer diet is also lower in animal and processed fats but should include omega 3 fats.

The following are ten foods that have strong cancer-prevention properties:

  1. Colorful fruits and vegetables, especially beets, kale, and berries. A good way to increase your consumption of these anticancer foods is to blend in a smoothie.
  2. Onions, garlic, chili peppers, and leeks.
  3. Mushrooms, especially shitake and maitake, help prevent illness including cancer by boosting your immune system.
  4. Green tea (also white tea). Drink two to three cups daily. When preparing tea be sure to dunk it several times. Dunking a tea bag up and down releases more cancer fighting molecules than just letting the bag sit in the cup.
  5. A daily glass of red wine can help to prevent cancer. Red wine contains resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant. It is found in grape skins and numerous studies have shown that it may prolong life and help to prevent cancer. Resveratrol can enhance longevity and quality of life but we would have to consume far more red wine than what is safe to get any benefit. The answer is to use resveratrol supplements.
  6. Eat sea food especially wild salmon. Avoid large fish such as swordfish, marlin, and shark because Mercury and PCBs are more likely to be found in them.
  7. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
  8. Nuts especially almonds and walnuts.
  9. Flaxseeds and flax meal, tomatoes (especially cooked), turmeric, curry, and yogurt.
  10. Hemp oil supports a healthy immune system. Vitamins C and D are cancer fighters. Vitamin C boosts the immune system to help kill cancer cells before they spread and blocks the formation of carcinogens in the intestines. Vitamin D helps to prevent the growth of breast, colon, and prostate cancer. Talk to your physician before starting any nutritional supplement program. Nutritional supplements do not cure or prevent illness and disease.  They only give the body the extra nutrition it needs to take care of itself!  A healthy lifestyle starts with good nutrition. 

Other factors in your cancer-prevention program include:

  • Don't smoke. The risk of all cancers increases dramatically if you smoke.
  • Stop eating sugar. The average American eats about 140 pounds of sugar per year.
  • Exercise on a regular basis. Exercise will, among other benefits, help to maintain your blood glucose at a low level. Exercise also oxygenates tissues helping to prevent cancer because cancer cannot exist in an oxygen rich environment.
  • Eat less meat especially red meat. People who eat little or no meat have the lowest risk of developing cancer.
  • Cancer screening is a priority cancer-prevention precaution. Cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, and cervix are the most preventable when detected early.
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Schedule regular visits to your family physician.

In the end it's not the years in your life that count but the life in your years. Abraham  Lincoln

References and suggested reading:

  • "cell." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011.
  • "cancer." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011.
  • “Cancer.”
  • See the retirement resource page.
  • Russell L. Blaylock, MD, Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients., Kensington Publishing Corp, Heath Press, 2003.
  • Patrick Quillin, PhD, RD, CNS. "Beating Cancer with Nutrition." Nutrition Times Press, 1994. 

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