There’s no simple, straightforward remedy for preventing cancer. Cancer is extremely complicated, and the treatments scientists have developed are also quite complex. But some researchers are starting to recognize the very important role food plays in helping to prevent various types of cancers.
One of those researchers is David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D., author of Anticancer: A New Way of Life (2008). According to Servan-Schreiber, diet is at the core of a healthy anticancer lifestyle. Sugar, white flour, and other refined carbohydrates (all rapidly turned into glucose by the body) can stimulate inflammation and thus, perhaps, cancer cell growth. Based on his research, we have come up with a list of foods that have anticancer potential, listed here from most to least powerful: garlic, leeks, Brussels sprouts, scallions, cabbage, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, kale, spinach, asparagus, green tea, pomegranate, turnips, squash, celery, radishes, eggplant, bok choi, and carrots. Let us see how Green Tea and Pomegranate in particular can help keep Cancer at bay.
Green tea is typically grown and processed in China, where its history dates back more than 3,000 years. Green tea comes from exactly the same plant—a large shrub called Camellia sinensis—as black or oolong tea. The difference is in the way the leaves are treated. With green tea, leaves are steamed immediately before being dried with hot air. This preserves the color and some compounds found in green tea, such as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). (To produce black tea, the leaves are “fermented” before being dried.)
Research indicates that regular tea consumption may lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.1 Scientists also are exploring possible cardiovascular benefits.2 Researchers in Texas are interested in using green tea to strengthen bones and to prevent osteoporosis.3 But most research seems to focus on green tea’s potential to reduce cancer risks. An exhaustive Cochrane review—a systematic look at medical research results in a collection of databases—covered 1.6 million participants. The evidence indicates that green tea consumption can lessen the likelihood of developing prostate cancer.4 Evidence that it can help protect against other cancers is equivocal, although lung, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers may be less common in green tea drinkers. Appropriate dosage appears to be three to five cups daily, which amounts to approximately 250 milligrams of EGCG and related compounds.
The most sensational claim people make about green tea is that it aids in weight loss. While research is inconclusive, substituting green tea for sugar-sweetened beverages can certainly cut calories for dieters. With centuries of use, drinking green tea seems reasonably safe. Green tea does contain caffeine—but less caffeine than coffee or black tea.
One caveat: Patients under bortezomib treatment for multiple myeloma should avoid green tea. Research indicates that EGCG can block the drug’s effectiveness.5 People in cancer chemotherapy should check with an oncologist before adding green tea to their regimen.
If you have never eaten a pomegranate, you have missed something special. No flavor compares to pomegranate’s tartness and sweetness, which combine for a culinary delight. For us, this is almost the perfect fruit when it is ripe. The bright red color just adds to its appeal. You can eat the seeds and drink the juice. Best of all, the list of health benefits attributable to pomegranates just keeps growing longer and longer.
Let’s start with the antioxidant power of the amazing pomegranate. Research has shown that this fruit can help prevent bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from oxidizing, which may also reduce the risk of plaque formation and coronary artery disease.1 Studies show that pomegranates also have an aspirin-like effect on platelets, which circulate in the blood. This antiplatelet effect may reduce the risk of blood clot formation.2
Research also demonstrates that pomegranate juice inhibits angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and helps lower blood pressure, thus making it an important part of any heart-healthy diet.3
Growing evidence also suggests that pomegranates contain ingredients that have both antibacterial action and antiulcer effects that seem protective for the digestive tract.4 Research supports the idea that the anti-inflammatory effects of pomegranate may protect against arthritis, diabetes, and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.5
One reader writes that his grandmother even used a pomegranate infusion. She cut the fruit in half, boiled it in water, and then reduced it—to make a tea that effectively treats diarrhea.
Even more exciting are the potential anticancer effects of pomegranate. Researchers have demonstrated that pomegranate “produces anticancer effects in experimental models of lung, prostate and skin cancer. More recently, pomegranate has been found to be anti-carcinogenic in the colon.”6
Bottom line: We know of relatively few foods that have so much health potential, taste so good, and look so beautiful.
The bottom line is that the more cancer-fighting foods you eat—and the fewer processed foods you eat—the better your chances of remaining healthy and cancer free for longer.
Joe Graedon & Terry Graedon, The People’s Pharmacy: Quick & Handy Home Remedies, published by National Geographic