Living with Cancer
Food and Diet
The vitamins, nutrients, and other minerals found in food items may raise or lower cancer risk. Researchers are studying the following food factors for finding their effects.
Plant-based diet: This diet contains phytonutrients, which are naturally-occurring substances. Examples are:
- Carotenoids obtained from red, orange, yellow, and dark-green vegetables.
- Polyphenols obtained from tea, coffee, chocolate, nuts, apples, herbs, spices, vegetables, and other plants.
- Allium compounds, obtained from garlic, onions, and leeks.
Antioxidants: They used to protect against oxidants, which leads to cell damage. Examples include vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and selenium. These oxidants are naturally formed by normal cell processes, or from environmental reactions like pollution and smoke.
Other vitamins and minerals: These include vitamins like calcium, iodine, and vitamins A, D, K, and B.
Dietary fiber: Fiber adds bulk to stool. It moves much food through the digestive system. Fiber helps to maintain a healthy community of microbes in the digestive tract, which referred to as the microbiome. A healthy microbiome means there is a lower cancer risk.
Fiber Foods include:
- Whole grains and seeds, such as barley, oats, bulgur, corn, and rye.
- Wholegrain bread.
- Pulses, including beans, lentils, split peas, and legumes.
- Vegetables, fruits, and pasta.
Proteins. These are the significant sources of animal protein in most diets:
- Dairy products
The red and processed meats raise the risk of cancer like pork, beef, and lamb. Processed meat includes bacon, ham, lunch meats, hot dogs, and other cured meat products. Any amount of processed meat and 18 ounces of fresh meat per week usage can cause a higher risk of cancer.
Alcoholic supplements. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of more types of cancers.
Food and Cancer Connections
It is challenging to find a link between food and a specific type of cancer because:
- Foods contain many substances. Most people eat and drink a variety of food items, which is hard to study.
- The effects of a food or nutrient can vary depending on how much quantity we eat.
- Preparation processes of food also influence the risk of cancer.
Fruits and vegetables lower the risk of several types of cancer, like:
- Lung cancer.
- Prostate cancer.
- Stomach cancer.
- Pancreatic cancer.
- Esophageal cancer.
- Head and neck cancers.
These conclusions derived from the Continuous update project and the Third Expert Report on Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Cancer: A Global Perspective. Furthermore, these reports get funded by the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) and World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).
The researchers have studied Plant-based foods for cancer prevention. Those are:
Cruciferous vegetables. These vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale. These foods lower the risk of cancer.
Studies show that these cruciferous vegetables protect against:
- Head and neck cancers,
- Esophageal cancer, and
- Stomach cancer.
Several studies suggest that theses cruciferous vegetables have enzymes that defend against cancer and may stop cancer cell growth in other ways. However, these effects may differ between cells and animals.
Lycopene. The tomato products, pink grapefruit, watermelon, and apricots contain carotenoids. These are the sources of lycopene. This lycopene protects against cancers of the mouth and throat, esophagus, colon, stomach, and lung.
However, a direct link between lycopene and reduced for causing cancer risk is to be adequately determined.
Soy. Soy contains unique phytonutrients that help in protecting some types of cancer. Eating up to 3 servings of whole soy foods, such as edamame, tofu, and soy milk is safe and may reduce breast cancer risk.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants
Our body needs essential vitamins and minerals. They help the body to repair itself, grow and develop, and to perform essential functions.
A review of clinical trials in people shows the following vitamin and mineral characteristics:
Beta carotene. High-dose beta carotene supplements are hazardous for health. Two clinical trials have found that people like smokers, and people exposed to asbestos, have a higher risk of lung cancer if they take high-dose beta carotene supplements.
Calcium and vitamin D. The researchers at The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) found that these supplements did not affect colorectal cancer risk by studying their effects.
Folate. Folate is a type of B vitamin found in:
- Green and leafy vegetables
- Beans and peas
Researchers Studies the link between folate and cancer risk that shows the people with low folate levels have a higher risk of breast, colon, and pancreatic cancer. Moreover, the relationship between taking extra folic acid and cancer prevention yet to be shown.
Multivitamins. There is no reliable evidence that multivitamins reduce the risk of cancer. However, 1 study showed a benefit of reduction of colon polyp formation for the people who took multivitamins for more than ten years. Moreover, this study suggests that multivitamins might also lower colorectal cancer risk.
Selenium. Taking these Supplements reduces new cases of:
Use caution when considering supplements that contain selenium because it contains the risk of diabetes.
Vitamin C. Taking food that contains higher vitamin C can lower the risk of stomach cancer. These results have been inconsistent.
Vitamin E. A clinical trial called the “Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT)” is done by researchers and found that participants who took vitamin E had a higher risk of prostate cancer.