How Foods Cure Cancer
~ January 2013 No.31 ~
Headlines that announce another study in which a
common fruit or vegetable reduces the incidence
of cancer are becoming more and more common. This is
happening as scientists are able to detect, isolate and concentrate
minor constituents of foods that have anti-cancer properties. At the
same time our understanding of how cancer develops and spreads is
expanding. The development of cancer can be divided into several
related but distinct stages. At each stage it appears that
consumption of certain foods or food ingredients can slow or reverse
Common fruit or vegetable reduces the incidence of cancer
Food or food ingredients can act to suppress, block or to
transform agents that can cause cancer. In the normal course of
digestion and metabolism, compounds that start out as being safe and
nutritious can be converted to procarcinogens or compounds that have
been shown to be capable of causing cancer. A food or food
ingredient that prevents this conversion is called a suppressor.
Antioxidents such as vitamin C and vitamin E would be examples of
suppressors as they prevent the formation of free radicals that have
been shown to cause cell damage that can lead to many cancers.
When procarcinogens are formed, they have to be transported to
the organ or tissue where they then attack healthy cells and start
the growth of the cancer. Some compounds, termed blockers, have been
shown to be able to prevent the procarcinogens from locating where
they can do their damage. The blocker reacts with the procarcinogen
forming a product that can be quickly excreted from the body before
it can become established.
Agents that act as transformers act in a similar way to blockers.
Transformers are able to react with or metabolize the procarcinogen
into nontoxic products. Some blockers are enzymes systems that occur
naturally in the body and are capable of metabolizing a wide range
of compounds. The activity of these enzymes can be increased by
changes in the diet, and this can provide protection when the body
is exposed to procarcinogen or carcinogens.
Once a cancer has become established the cells that it has
invaded lose their ability to stick together. The infected cells are
then able to break away and circulate throughout the body via the
blood and lymph systems. The appearance of cancer in organs and
tissues distant from the initial site of disease results. Some food
ingredients such as the flavones in orange, tangerine and grapefruit
have been shown to be able to restore the adhesion between cells
that would prevent the spread of cancer cells in the body.
The many factors that cause cancer and allow it to grow and
spread in the body are not all well understood. But it is becoming
more and more evident that many foods contain components that can
act against cancer cells at very particular stages of cancer
initiation, growth, development and spread.