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Eat Fruits and Vegetables to Reduce Cancer Risk

By HERWriter
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There is no miracle food that you can eat that is guaranteed to prevent cancer. But many scientists believe there are cancer-fighting foods that can help lower the risk of tumors. Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans may reduce your chances of getting cancer. (AICR)

Researchers recognize that the foods we eat have a significant impact on our immune system and its ability to defend us against various diseases, including cancer. Laboratory studies show that eating plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans can help stop the development of tumors.

Scientists from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) have also studied the ways different foods interact. Their studies show that when eaten together, the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (compounds produced by plants) in plant-based foods actually interact in ways that make them more effective in boosting their natural cancer fighting effects.

To obtain the most benefit, doctors recommend eating at least five servings of vegetables and fruits each day. One serving is considered to be the size of the palm of your hand. Another easy way to tell if you are getting enough fruits and vegetables is to make sure 2/3 of your plate is filled with plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.

Some top cancer fighting foods include:

Beans – Legumes including lentils, peas, and soybeans contain phytochemicals that scientists believe help protect cells from damage that can lead to cancer.

Berries – The fiber in berries can help decrease colorectal cancer. Vitamin C and ellagic acid in berries also appears to help prevent cancers including skin, bladder, lung, and esophagus cancer.

Non-starchy vegetables – Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage appear to help the body regulate enzymes that protect against cancer.

Green, leafy vegetables – Spinach, lettuce, and other greens contain fiber, folate, and carotenoids that have cancer-fighting properties.

Tomatoes – The red coloring of tomatoes comes from lycopene which is believed to help protect against prostate cancer.

Flaxseed – Flax contains lignans which are also known as plant estrogens (phytoestrogens). They appear to mimic the action of the hormone estrogen in the body. Some studies show pytoestrogens may help limit breast, colon, skin, and lung tumors. Whole flax seeds are not easy to digest, so the whole seeds do not appear to have the same benefit as flax oil, flour, or meal.

Other diet factors also influence the odds of getting cancer. Being overweight and gaining weight as an adult can increase your risk of developing cancer. Cancers that are affected by body weight include breast cancer, and cancers of the esophagus and stomach. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can also help with weight control.

Whether your goal is to reduce cancer risks or simply to eat a more healthful diet, doctors also recommend choosing whole grains rather than processed grains, limiting the amount of processed meats and red meats in the diet, and avoiding fats.


American Institute for Cancer Research. Foods That Fight Cancer?. Web. October 28, 2011.

National Cancer Institute. NCI Health Information Tip Sheet for Writers: Diet and Dieseases. Web. October 28, 2011.

American Cancer Society. Common questions about diet and cancer. Web. October 28, 2011.

American Cancer Society. Diet and physical activity factors that affect risks for select cancers. Web. October 28, 2011.

American Cancer Society. Eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant sources. Web. October 28, 2011.

American Cancer Society. Phytochemicals. Web. October 28, 2011.

Reviewed November 1, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.