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Cancer Fighting Foods/Spices

The National Cancer Institute estimates that roughly one-third of all cancer deaths may be diet related. What you eat can hurt you, but it can also help you. Many of the common foods found in grocery stores or organic markets contain cancer fighting properties, from the antioxidants that neutralize the damage caused by free radicals to the powerful phytochemicals that scientists are just beginning to explore. There isn't a single element in a particular food that does all the work. The best thing to do is eat a variety of foods. The following foods have the ability to help stave off cancer cell growth or reduce tumor size.

AVOCADOS are rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that attacks free radicals in the body by blocking intestinal absorptionof certain fats. They also supply even more potassium than in bananas and are a strong source of beta-carotene. Scientists beleive that avocados may also be useful in treating viral hepatitis (a cause of liver cancer), and other sources of liver damage.
 
BROCCOLI, CABBAGE, AND CAULIFLOWER have a component called indole-3-carbinol that can combat breast cancer by converting a cancer-promoting estrogen into a more protective variety. BROCCOLI, ESPECIALLY SPROUTS, also have the phytochemical sulforaphane, a product of glucoraphanin-believed to aid in preventing some types of cancer, like colon cancer and rectal cancer. Sulforaphane induces the production of certain enzymes that can deactivate free radicals and carcinogens. The enzymes have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors in laboratory animals. However, be aware that the Agriculture Department studied 71 types of broccoli plants and found 30-fold difference in the amounts of glucoraphanin. It appears that the more bitter the broccoli is, the more glucoraphanine it has. Broccoli sprouts have been developed under the trade name BroccoSprouts that have a consistent level of sulforaphane-as much as 20 times higher than levels found in mature heads of broccoli.
 
CHILI PEPPERS AND JALAPENOS contain a chemical, capsaicin, which may neutralize certain cancer-causing substances and may help prevent such cancers as stomach cancer.
 
CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES-broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, and cabbage contain two antioxidants, zeaxanthin and lutein, that may help decrease prostate and other cancers.
 
FLAX contains lignans, which may have an antioxidant effect and block or suppress cancerous changes. Flax is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to protect against colon cancer and heart disease.
 
GARLIC has immune-enhancing allium coumpounds that appear to increase the activity of immune cells that fight cancer and indirectly help to break down cancer causing substances.  These sustances also help block carcinogens from entering cells and slow tumor development.  Daillyl sulfide, a component of garlic oil, has also been shown to render carcinogens in the liver inactive. Studies have linked garlic-as well as onions, leeks, and chives-to lower the risk of stomach and colon cancer. Dr. Lenore Arab, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the UNC-CH (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) schools of public health and medicine and colleagues analyzed a number of studies and reported their findings in the October 2000 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. According to the report, people who consume raw or cooked garlic regularly face about half the risk of colorectal cancer as people who eat little or none. Their studies didnt't show garlic supplements had the same effect. It is believed garlic may help prevent stomach cancer because it has anti-bacterial effects against bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, found in the stomach and known to promote cancer there.
 
GRAPEFRUITS, like oranges , contain monoterpenes, beleived to help prevent cancer by sweeping carcinogens out of the body. Some studies show that grapefruit may inhibit the proliferation of the breast-cancer cells in vitro. They also contain vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folic acid.
 
RED GRAPES contain bioflavonoids, powerful antioxidants that work as cancer preventives. Grapes are also a rich source of resveratrol, which inhibits the enzymes that stimulate cancer-cell growth and suppress immune response. They also contain ellagic acid, a compound that blocks enzymes that are necessary for cancer cells. This appears to help slow the growth of tumors.
 
ROSEMARY may help increase the activity of detoxification enzymes. An extract of rosemary, termed carnosol, has inhibited the development of both breast and skin tumors in animals. Rosemary can be used as a seasoning. It can also be consumed as a tea: Use 1 tsp. dried leaves per cup of hot water: steep for 15 minutes.
 
KALE has indoles, nitrogen compounds which help stop the conversion of certain lesions to cancerous cells in estrogen-sensitive tissues. In addition, isothiocyanates, phytochemicals found in kale, are thought to supress tumor growth and block cancer causing substances from reaching their targets.
 
LICORICE ROOT has a chemical, glycyrrhizin, that blocks a component of testosterone and therefore may help prevent the growth of prostate cancer. However, excessive amounts can lead to elevated blood pressure.
 
MUSHROOMS There are a number of mushrooms that appear to help the body fight cancer and build the immune system- Shiitake, maitake, reishi, Agaricus blazei Murill, and Coriolus Versicolor. These mushrooms contain polysaccharides, especially Lentinan, powerful compounds that help in building immunity. They are a source of Beta Glucan. They also have a protein called lectin, which attacks cancerous cells and prevents them from multiplying. They also containThioproline. These mushrooms can stimulate the production of interferon in the body.
 
NUTS contain the antioxidants campferol and quercetin that may supress the growth of cancers. Brazil nut contains 80 micrograms of seleium, which is important for those with prostate cancer.
 
ORANGES AND LEMONS contain limonene which stimulates cancer killing immune cells that may also break down cancer causing substances.
 
PAPAYAS have vitamin C that works as an antioxidant and may also reduce absorption of cancer-causing nitrosamines from the soil or processed foods. Papaya contains folacin (also known as folic acid), which has been shown to minimize cervical dysplasia and certain cancers.
 
RASPBERRIES contain many vitamins, minerals, plant compounds and antioxidants known as anthocyanins that may protect against cancer. According to a research study reported by Cancer Research 2001;61:6112-6119, rats fed diets of 5% to 10% black raspberries saw the number of esophageal tumors decrease by 43% to 62%. A diet containing 5% black raspberries was more effective than a diet containing 10% black raspberries.
 
RED WINE, even without alcohol, has polyphenols that may protect against various types of cancer. Polyphenols are potent antioxidants, compounds that help neutralize disease causing free radicals. Also, researchers at the University of North Carolinas medical school in Chapel Hill. Found the compound resveratrol, which is found in grape skins. It appears that resveratrol inhibits cell proliferation and can help prevent cancer. However, the findings didnt extend to heavy imbibers, so it should be used in moderation. In addition, alcohol can be toxic to the liver and to the nervous system, and many wines have sulfites, which may be harmful to you health. You might want to switch to organic wines if you haven't already.
 
SEAWEED and other SEA VEGETABLES contain beta- carotene, protein, vitamin B12, fiber, and chlorophyll, as well as chlorophylones. Important fatty acids that may help in the fight against breast cancer. Many sea vegetables also have high concentrations of the minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and iodine.
 
SOY PRODUCTS like TOFU contain several types of phytoestrogens. Weak, nonsteroidal estrogens that could help prevent both breast and prostate cancer by blocking and suppressing cancerous changes. There are a number of isoflavones in soy products, but research has shown that genistein is the most potent inhibitor of the growth and spread cancerous cells. It appears to lower breast cancer risk by inhibiting the growth of epithelial cells and new blood vessels that tumors require to flourish and is being scrutinized as a potential anti cancer drug. Eating up to 4 or 5 ounces of tofu or other soy products a day is probably ok, but research is being done to see if loading up on soy could cause hormone imbalances that stimulate cancer growth. As a precaution, woman who have breast cancer or are at high risk should talk to their doctors before taking pure isoflavone powder and pills, extracted from soy.
 
SWEET POTATOES contain many anti cancer properties, including beta carotene, which may protect DNA in the cell nucleus from cancer causing chemicals outside the nuclear membrane.
 
TEAS: GREEN TEA and BLACK TEA contain certain antioxidants known as polyphenols which appear to prevent cancer cells from dividing. Green tea is best, followed by our more common black tea (herbal teas do not show this benefit). According to a report in the July 2001 issue of Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, these polyphenols that are abundant in green tea, red wine, and olive oil, may protect against various types of cancer. Dry green tea leaves, may also reduce the risk of cancer of the stomach, lung, colon, rectum, liver and pancreas.
 
TAPIOCA is derived from the cassava plant. It is one of the many plant that manufactures cyanide by producing a chemical called linamarine which releases hydrogen cyanide when it is broken down by the linamarase enzyme. Spanish researchers have been studying the cassava and attempting to clone the genes from the plant which are responsible for producing the hydrogen cyanide and then transfer it to a retrovirus.
 
TOMATOES contain lycopene, an antioxidantthat attacks roaming oxygen molecules, known as free radicals, that are suspected of triggering cancer. It appears that the hotter the weather, the more lycopene tomatoes produce. They also contain vitamin C, an antioxidant which can prevent cellular damage that leads to cancer. Watermelons, carrots, red peppers also contain thsese substances, but in lesser quantities. It is concentrated by cooking tomatoes. Scientists in Isreal have shown that lycopene can kill mouth cancer cells. An increased intake of lycopene has already been linked to a reduced risk of breast, prostate, pancreas and colorectal cancer.
 
TUMERIC, a member of the ginger family, is beleived to have medicinal properties because it inhibits production of the inflammation-related enzyme cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX-2), levels of which are abnormally high in certain inflammatory diseases and cancers, especially bowel and colon cancer. In fact, a pharmaceutical company Phytopharm in the UK hopes to introduce a natural product, p54, that contains certain volatile oils, which greatly increase the potency of the turmeric spice.