Fight Cancer Through Diet

Cancer is the second leading cause of death after heart disease. Ayurveda, the science of life and longevity has always stressed on the way of attaining optimal health through healthy lifestyle to keep away from carcinogen as well as to make the body immunologically potent. If the body’s functional homeostasis is maintained with the Ayurvedic diet and regime there is least chance of malignancy. All the body biological mechanisms depend on kind of food intake.  

The National Cancer Institute indicates that roughly one-third of all cancer deaths may be diet related. Many of the common foods found in 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. Cabbage and cauliflower have a chemical 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 and rectal cancer. Carrots contain a lot of beta carotene, which may help reduce a wide range of cancers including lung, mouth, throat, stomach, intestine, bladder, prostate and breast. Chili peppers and jalapenos contain a chemical capsaicin, which may neutralize certain cancer-causing substances (nitrosamines) and may help prevent cancers such as stomach cancer. Cruciferous vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage contain two antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that may help decrease prostate and other cancers. Garlic has immune-enhancing allium compounds (dialyl sultides) that appear to increase the activity of immune cells that fight cancer and indirectly help break down cancer causing substances. These substances also help block carcinogens from entering cells and slow tumor development. Diallyl sulfide, a component of garlic oil, has also been shown to render carcinogens in the liver inactive. Grapefruits, like oranges and other citrus fruits, contain monoterpenes, believed to help prevent cancer by sweeping carcinogens out of the body. Some studies show that grapefruit may inhibit the proliferation of breast-cancer cells in vitro. They also contains vitamin C, beta-carotene and folic acid. Grapes, red contain bioflavonoids, powerful antioxidants that work as cancer preventives. Grapes are also a rich source of resveratrol, which inhibits the enzymes that can 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. Studies show that consumption of green and yellow leafy vegetables has been associated with lower levels of stomach cancer. Licorice root has a chemical, glycyrrhizin, that blocks a component of testosterone and therefore may help prevent the growth of prostate cancer. Nuts contain the antioxidants quercetin and campferol that may suppress the growth of cancers. 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. 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. Sweet potatoes contain many anticancer properties, including beta-carotene, which may protect DNA in the cell nucleus from cancer-causing chemicals outside the nuclear membrane.

Green tea and black tea contain certain antioxidants known as polyphenols (catechins) which appear to prevent cancer cells from dividing. According to a report in the July 2001 issue of the 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, which are about 40% polyphenols by weight, may also reduce the risk of cancer of the stomach, lung, colon, rectum, liver and pancreas, study findings have suggested. Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that attacks roaming oxygen molecules, known as free radicals, that are suspected of triggering cancer.They also have vitamin C, an antioxidant which can prevent cellular damage that leads to cancer. Scientists in Israel 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. Carrots and red peppers also contain these substances, but in lesser quantities. Tumeric (curcuma longa), a member of the ginger family, is believed 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. Consumption of fruits and vegetables has been associated with decreased risk of cancers of the colon and rectum. Epidemiologic studies suggest that diets high in calcium lower colon cancer risk. Calcium binds bile and fatty acids, which cause hyperproliferation of colonic epithelium. Steve jobs who revolutionized information technology passed away at the age of 56 due to pancreatic cancer as the medical science is not developed enough for overall cure of cancer. But the war against cancer is still on. It is need of the hour is to adopt healthy food and life style to avoid carcinogen and make body immunologically poten against cancer.

M.D. (kayachikitsa), Email: drarghya_mukherjee@yahoo.com lecturer Babeke Ayurvedic Medical college, Daudhar (Moga).