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Diet in Cancer Prevention

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Diet in Cancer Prevention

Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues.Through out history, changes and trends in foods and beverages intake, physical activity, habits, and body composition have accompanied the increase in industrialization and urbanization throughout the world these changes correlate with shifts in cancer incidence throughout the world with a doubling rate of global cancer.


  • Cancer is caused by both internal factors eg. Hormone, inherited mutation, immune condition and external factor eg. Tobacco, chemicals radiation and infectious organisms. Diet probably plays more of a role in cancer development than genes. It is well known that the incidence of most cancers is less in Asians cultures. The evidence for diet and cancer link in studies has shown that when Asians moved to the United States and switched from primary plant based to animal based diet, the cancer rates in these immigrants increased to approach those of Americans.
  • The link between diet and cancer is just beginning to be understood. By following the guidelines provided, the risk of cancer can be greatly reduced. Nothing can completely prevent the disease, but these guidelines should help. The protective role of various foods is as follows Dietary fibre from whole grain, wheat bran, legumes, fruits and vegetables help moves potential carcinogens through the intestine faster. Reduces the contact time between carcinogens and intestinal wall giving less exposure time to carcinogens.
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables provides various phytochemicals which act as neutralizing agents that prevents carcinogens from reaching critical target sites within the cells. Antioxidant from whole grains, colourful fruits and vegetables protect membrane of intestinal cells and free radical reactions and prevent a cell from becoming carcinogenic by correcting metabolism. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sarson or mustard seeds contain sulforaphane which boost immunity and blocks enzymes that draw carcinogens into healthy cell.

  • Legumes such as beans, chick pea, sprouts, and whole dals contain anti- carcinogenic protease inhibitor. Reduces the growth of breast, colon and skin cancers. Soyabean products like soy milk, flour, chunks and granules contain isoflavones which inhibit the growth of new blood vessels necessary for tumor survival. Omega-3 fatty acid from flax seed, flaxseed oil, fish oil and fish such as sardine, tuna, mackerel, have anti-cancer properties.
  • Vegetables such as carrot broccoli, spinach, other green leafy vegetables and papaya and mango provide selenium and beta carotene (vitamin A) which boost immunity and releases a specific tumor necrosis factor. Vitamin C & E from citrus fruit and nuts blocks the formation of nitrosamines a carcinogen. Catechin a phytochemical from green tea provides anti-carcinogenic effect. Guidelines for cancer prevention are as follows:
    • Maintain a healthy body weight throughout life
    • Adopt a physical active lifestyle
    • Consume a healthy diet with emphasis on plant food source
    • Increase dietary fibre to between 25-35 grams a day
    • Eliminate hydrogenated fat
    • Limit consumption of salt, sugar and energy dense foods
    • Limit intake of red meat, avoid processed and smoked meat
    • Avoid moldy grains and legumes
    • Aim to meet nutrition needs through diet alone
    • Mothers should breastfeed if possible
    • Reduce and combat stress

    Ms. Ruhi Peje


    Guru Nanak Hospital,


    EDITORIAL DISCLAIMER: As part of our mission to provide our users with valuable information about matters of job, health, appeals etc., iKokani actively seeks a diversity of viewpoints in its columns, consultancy, commentaries and other opinion-based content. Opinions expressed in these articles are not intended to represent iKokani editorial policy and do not necessarily reflect the views of iKokani's staff, members or supporters.

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