The Chinese characters for “cancer,” or “癌,” includes the characters for mouth, or “口,” and it indicates that diet and cancer are very closely linked to each other. In reality, many foods consumed in your daily life may help reduce your risk of developing certain cancers.
Corn not only can prevent hypertension, arteriosclerosis, urinary stones, and other diseases, it also has anti-cancer effects. This is because corn contains a large number of amino acids that can de-activate chemical carcinogens.
Onions are rich in plant compounds and antioxidants, especially quercetin and sulfur-containing compounds such as sulfides and polysulfides. These compounds enhance body immunity, protect against cancer, help lower blood fat, and improve gastrointestinal motility. Onions can also help the liver to detoxify and aid metabolic functions, as well as improve body immunity.
Many people eat eggplant with the skin removed, but eggplant skin contains significant nutritional values and health benefits. Eggplant skin is rich in vitamins B and C. Studies have found that eggplant skin may be effective in fighting cancer.
Edamame is rich in protein, dietary fiber, lecithin, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and, similar to soybeans, it contains isoflavones (phytoestrogens). Studies have found that isoflavones also appear to work with certain proteins to protect against cancer.
Tomatoes are a nutrient-dense superfood containing many nutrients, such as carotenoids, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins. Among them, lycopene is a powerful antioxidant with many health benefits that include lowering the risk of certain types of cancer. Research has found that eating more tomatoes may reduce the risks of prostate, gastric, colorectal, ovarian, cervical, and breast cancers.
Carrots are like pumpkins, which are rich in carotene, an antioxidant that may help reduce the risks of cancer, particularly lung cancer.
The cabbage is packed with nutrients. Even though cabbage is very low in calories, it has an impressive nutrient profile. Cabbage contains protein, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, organic acids, vitamins B2, C, K, U, and other nutrients. It can change the metabolism of estrogen and may help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Mushrooms may help the human body to build up immunity to fight tumors, as well as to inhibit the growth of tumor cells. They may help the body to resist a variety of cancers, including lymphoma, colorectal, and liver cancer.
Lentils are rich in crude fiber, riboflavin, and amino acids. Lentils detoxify the spleen, reduce swelling, and improve immune system functions that may help inhibit gastrointestinal cancer. Long-term consumption of lentils not only may help to prevent cancer, but also protect the cardiovascular system and regulate blood pressure.
Cauliflower is an extremely healthy vegetable that’s a significant source of nutrients. Cauliflower contains multiple phytochemicals that are believed to protect cells from damage that could lead to cancer and can also suppress cancer cell growth. Cauliflower is rich in dietary fiber that can improve gastrointestinal motility and purge toxic waste from the body, so it may also help to prevent rectal and gastrointestinal cancers.
Bananas are a healthy source of fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and various antioxidants and phytonutrients. Studies have found that magnesium and potassium may have certain anti-cancer effects. Eating bananas reduces the side effects for cancer patients who receive radiation therapy, such as dry mouth and throat, as well as dry stool with blood for colorectal cancer patients.
Kiwi fruit has the highest source of vitamin C, containing 200 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit. Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that enhances the human body’s immunity against diseases. Kiwi fruit also contains vitamin P, which can prevent vitamin C from being oxidized, which may help to enhance the prevention of cancer.
It’s difficult to prove that certain foods cause cancer. However, observational studies have repeatedly indicated that high consumption of certain foods may increase the likelihood of developing cancer.
Sugar and refined carbs
Processed foods that are high in sugar and low in fiber and nutrients have been linked to higher cancer risk. In particular, researchers have found that a diet that causes blood glucose levels to spike is associated with an increased risk of several cancers, including stomach, breast, and colorectal cancers.
It’s thought that higher levels of blood glucose and insulin are cancer risk factors. Insulin has been shown to stimulate cell division, supporting the growth and spread of cancer cells, making them more difficult to eliminate. In addition, higher levels of insulin and blood glucose can contribute to inflammation in your body. In the long term, this can lead to the growth of abnormal cells and possibly contribute to cancer.
Processed meat refers to meat that has been treated to preserve flavor by undergoing salting, curing, or smoking. It includes hot dogs, ham, bacon, chorizo, salami, and some deli meats. Observational studies have found an association between consuming processed meat and increased cancer risk, particularly colorectal cancer.
A large review of studies found that people who ate large amounts of processed meat had a 20-50 percent increased risk of colorectal cancer, compared to those who ate very little or none of this type of food. Another review of over 800 studies found that consuming just 50 grams of processed meat each day — around four slices of bacon or one hot dog — raised the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent.
Cooking certain foods at high temperatures, such as grilling, frying, sautéing, broiling, and barbecuing, can produce harmful compounds like heterocyclic amines (HA) and advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). Excess buildup of these harmful compounds can contribute to inflammation and may play a role in the development of cancer and other diseases.
Certain foods, such as animal foods high in fat and protein, as well as highly processed foods, are most likely to produce these harmful compounds when subjected to high temperatures. These include meat — particularly red meat — certain cheeses, fried eggs, butter, margarine, cream cheese, mayonnaise, oils, and nuts.
To minimize your risk of developing cancer, avoid burning food and choose gentler cooking methods, especially when cooking meat, such as steaming, stewing, or boiling. Marinating food can also help.
Several observational studies have indicated that high dairy consumption may increase the risk of prostate cancer. One study followed almost 4,000 men with prostate cancer. Results showed that high intakes of whole milk increased the risk of disease progression and death. More research is needed to determine the possible cause and effect.
Translated by Chua BC and edited by Angela