Cancer Prevention

The idea of cancer prevention may sound far-fetched but, in fact, many people are already implementing the strategies discussed here. Just as we can implement strategies to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and stroke we can implement the same strategies to prevent or at least reduce the risk of cancer. It’s been known since time immemorial that fruit, vegetables and other plant-based foods promote health. What is not generally known is that these foods not only prevent chronic diseases but they also have cancer prevention properties.

Causes of Chronic Diseases and Cancer

We are bombarded on a daily basis, and from all directions, with chemical substances that cause diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. These substances come in the form of pollutants in our foods (pesticides, herbicides, preservatives and so on) and environmental pollutants. The same foods are implicated in the development of chronic diseases including many types of cancer. The standard Western diet consists of large amounts of:

  • Processed and refined foods that have been stripped of most nutrients. These foods also have an excess amount of refined sugar and salt. The lack of nutrients reduces the ability of the immune system to defend the body from disease and depresses the function of all other body systems.
  • Animal products high in saturated fats and cholesterol. It is thought that high levels of cholesterol in the blood cause an inflammatory reaction in the innermost layer of blood vessels. Cholesterol and other fatty materials then accumulate at the site of inflammation (27). This is known as atherosclerosis. It hardens and narrows blood vessels causing high blood pressure and it may completely block the flow of blood to the brain (stroke), heart (heart attack) and to other organs and systems in the body. Think of the way fat congeals as the meat, bacon or sausages on your plate cool and imagine that fat in your blood vessels. They become clogged up. Atherosclerosis also reduces the supply of oxygen and nutrients.
  • Meat and fat which are now known to be the main dietary causes of cancer (24). The meat comes from animals that have been subjected to all sorts of poisonous chemicals. Residues of these chemicals (pesticides, hormones, antibiotics) are stored in animal fat. When we eat animal products we also ingest the chemicals.

So we have the same foods causing cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity (10, 21, 23, 24, 25). Studies have shown that the incidence of colon, breast and prostate cancers is high in people with a high meat and fat consumption (24).

Cancer and Chronic Disease Prevention

We all have cancer cells but only some of us will get cancer (6, 11). By the time cancer is diagnosed, it will have been developing over a period of some years. Pesticides, preservatives and other chemical contaminants in our foods cause some cells to become cancerous. However, if the immune system is healthy, the cancer cells are destroyed before they can become tumours.

Just as cancer takes years to become evident it takes years for atherosclerosis to develop to the stage where it causes heart disease and strokes. This gives us time to intervene and stop the development of chronic disease and of cancerous tumours. It is clear that we need to cut out or drastically reduce animal products and fats (meat, milk, cheese, eggs etc) from our diet and that we need to eliminate refined and processed foods, gradually replacing them with plant-based foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains. Since health is not only dependent on the foods we eat, the switch to more plant-based foods should be accompanied by regular exercise and practices that promote emotional and mental well-being.

Healthy Foods

Fresh fruit and vegetables have an abundant supply of antioxidants , vitamins and minerals all of which work together to keep the immune system and all other systems healthy. Vitamins and minerals are essential for organ health and also for the efficient metabolism of the foods we eat.

Minerals such as potassium, calcium, sodium and magnesium are essential components of cells and when they are balanced, nerve cells, muscles and bones work properly. Other minerals like iron are essential for the transport of oxygen and other nutrients to cells. Antioxidants mop up and neutralise the free radicals that cause cells to become cancerous. By eating a wide variety of fruit, vegetables and other plant-based foods we arm our bodies against most chronic diseases. Green superfoods have an abundant supply of most nutrients.

Studies have shown that most plant-based foods have cancer fighting properties and I am sure that, in the future, many more will be shown to have the same properties. Some foods kill cancer cells while others arrest or slow down the development of cancer by killing off the blood supply to cancerous tumours.

Cancer Prevention Foods

Click here for a comprehensive list and summary of cancer prevention foods and the phytonutrients they contain that prevent or slow the development of cancer.


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References and Further Reading

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