Ten Super Foods to Beat Cancer
Smearing skin with broccoli
can help reduce risk of cancer
By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor of the online edition
of the The Independent
Published: 01 November 2005
Eating cabbage, cooking meat with garlic and smearing your
skin with extract of broccoli can all help reduce the risk of cancer, scientists have found.
A series of studies presented yesterday to the annual
meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research add to the burgeoning evidence that changing your diet may
be among the most effective ways of prolonging your life. Up to a third of cancers are thought to be associated
with diet. Experts say eating more fruit and vegetables is the second most effective way to cut the risk of cancer,
after not smoking.
In the latest studies, researchers from the University of
New Mexico investigated the rapid rise in breast cancer among Polish women who emigrated to the US. The risk of
breast cancer was three times higher among Polish women living in America than in their counterparts at home,
suggesting a strong environmental factor.
Dorothy Rybaczyk-Pathak and colleagues evaluated the diet of
Polish immigrants living in the Chicago and Detroit areas. They found that those who ate raw or short-cooked
cabbage three times a week had a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer compared with those who ate less than
one serving a week.
In Poland, women eat 30lb of cabbage and sauerkraut a year,
compared with 10lb a year for US women. Those who ate most cabbage during adolescence had the lowest rates of
cancer. If cabbage is not to your taste, you could try rubbing an extract from it on your skin. Scientists from
Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found it halved the rate of skin cancer in mice. Cabbage is a member of the
Brassica family which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. These vegetables contain glucosinolates
which are broken down by chewing or cutting into sulphoraphane, which has been shown in previous studies to have
Albena Dinkova-Kostova and colleagues from Johns Hopkins
University applied an extract of sulphoraphane made from broccoli sprouts (the young broccoli plant) to the skin of
hairless mice after they had been exposed to a dose of ultraviolet light equivalent to what a person would get
spending a day sunbathing on the beach. After 20 weeks of "sunbathing" twice a week the mice had the extract
painted on their backs twice a day for 11 weeks. The incidence and size of skin tumours in the treated mice was
half of that in the untreated controls.
The extract did not act as a sunscreen but as a
post-exposure treatment that appeared to inhibit the carcinogenic effects of the ultraviolet light. Dr
Dinkova-Kostova said the findings suggested a "promising strategy" in adults who grew up before sunscreens were
Researchers from Florida A&M University found using
garlic to flavour meat could help counter carcinogenic substances produced by cooking protein.
You are or become what you eat!
Ten super-foods to beat
Member of the same family as sprouts, watercress and
broccoli. Studies link eating lots of brassica with lower rates of cancer of the digestive system.
Favoured by the former US president Bill Clinton, this is
the archetypal cancer preventive. It contains sulphoraphane, a phytochemical that helps destroy
Containing the pungent phytochemicals called allylic
sulphides, garlic has long been used as a natural medicine. Allylic sulphides may help ward off cell damage, thus
RED AND ORANGE
An excellent source of vitamin C; half a red pepper provides
all the vitamin C an adult needs in one day, they also contain anti-oxidant flavonoids and
Rich in selenium, a mineral, important to people in the UK
who mostly have low intakes. Some studies have suggested low levels increase the risk of cancer and heart
The anti-oxidant lycopene is what makes them red. Some
research has linked tomatoes - especially when cooked, canned or in pastes and sauces - with a lower risk of
Contain allium compounds and are rich in quercetin, a
phytochemical. Both of these are thought to reduce cancer as well as improving circulation and blood
One of the best sources of the antioxidant beta-carotene,
which the body converts to vitamin A. This is needed for healthy skin, a strong immune system and to help see in
As well vitamin C and flavonoids, they contain a
phytochemical called ellagic acid, which some research has shown can help inhibit the growth of cancerous
Richest in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant vitamin. Mixed
with pumpkin seeds they provide a useful blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fats.
Source: World Cancer Research Fund