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Why every woman should tuck into tofu and how a delicious curry could protect you against the disease: What to eat to beat cancer

(Mail Online)    08:21, January 31, 2018

For so many people, cancer is one of the greatest fears, but we don’t have to live our lives under the spectre of its strike. Far fewer human cancers are attributable to purely genetic factors than you realise — external factors, particularly diet, play a fundamental part.

In fact, food is the single greatest way our bodies face exposure to the outside environment — and the damaging effects of chemicals in meat, dairy products and processed foods can trigger a host of metabolic changes that can trigger the cancer process.

With our digestive system directly exposed to these toxins all day, every day, it is no coincidence that colorectal (colon and rectal) cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the West.

Some studies show consumption of animal fats to be significantly associated with pancreatic cancer too — one reported a 72 per cent increased risk of pancreatic cancer related to eating just 50 grams of poultry (about a quarter of a chicken breast) a day.

Now that the dietary link is well known, more and more studies are showing that wholefood plant-based diets, like the one I recommend with my Daily Dozen, offers cancer protection.

The Iowa Women’s Health Study, which has followed more than 35,000 women for decades, showed that higher broccoli or other cruciferous vegetable (such as cabbage) intake was associated with a lower risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

This is consistent with a study at the Mayo Clinic that found people who ate about three or more servings of green, leafy vegetables per week appeared to have only about half the odds of getting lymphoma compared with those who ate less than one serving a week.

Such protection may be the result of the high antioxidant content of plant foods.

One of the largest studies on diet and cancer found that people who consume a more plant-based diet are less likely to develop all forms of cancer, with the greatest apparent protection against blood cancers.

It doesn’t take much: the largest study ever performed on diet and bladder cancer found an increase of plant protein of only 2 per cent was associated with a 23 per cent decrease in cancer risk.

Prostate cancer still kills more than 11,000 men in the UK every year, but recent studies have revealed a link between diet and prostate cancer suggesting the prevalence of the cancer goes up the more animal products you eat.

For example, deaths from prostate cancer in Japan has increased 25-fold since the population widely increased dairy, egg and meat consumption after World War II.

The link is so strong that many scientists believe if you have early-stage prostate cancer, for instance, you may be able to reverse its progression with a plant-based diet.

Dr Dean Ornish (who made his name with studies to show plant-based diets can reduce your risk of heart disease) has been studying the effect of plant-based diets on prostate cancer patients.

After a year, the control group’s level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) — a marker of prostate cancer growth inside the body — tended to increase.

But the plant-based group’s PSA levels tended to go down, which suggests their prostate tumours actually shrank.

No surgery, no chemotherapy, no radiation — just eating and living healthily.

I refuse to believe it is mere coincidence that colorectal cancer is relatively rare in India. Only seven per cent of the adult population there eats meat on a regular basis.

What they do eat daily are legumes (beans, split peas, chickpeas and lentils) and dark green, leafy vegetables — which are packed with cancer-fighting compounds called phytates.

Added to which, spices, such as turmeric, a staple of curries, are increasingly being shown to have powerful anti-cancer properties.

Breast cancer is among the most feared diagnoses a woman can receive and it kills 11,500 women in the UK each year — but studies are now increasingly proving a good wholefood plant-based diet really could make an impact.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say a healthy diet could not only stop you getting cancer in the first place, but it may also slow its growth.

In a study with more than a million participants, a 17 per cent increased breast cancer risk was found in pre-menopausal women who had elevated cholesterol levels.

This means that the same plant-based diet that helps lower a woman’s risk of heart disease may also help lower her risk of breast cancer.

Remarkably, researchers have found that women placed on a plant-based diet, along with walking every day, improved their cancer defences within two weeks.

Compared with patients who continued to eat meat and dairy and who did not exercise, these women appeared to have nearly half the risk of dying from breast cancer in the two years following diagnosis.

So if you’re worried about cancer, stick to my Daily Dozen recommendations (below) closely to maximise your protection — that means exercising as well as eating vegetables, fruit, and pulses.

Studies show that women who eat more of these whole plant foods seem to reduce their chances of getting breast cancer by more than 90 per cent.

And researchers have found that pre-menopausal women who ate more than 6g soluble fibre a day (a single portion of beans or lentils) had a 62 per cent lower risk of breast cancer compared with women who consumed less than 4g a day.

It’s worth remembering that one of the American Institute of Cancer Research’s cancer prevention recommendations is to eat wholegrains (such as bulgur wheat and brown rice) and/or legumes with EVERY meal.

Not every week . . .

Every meal . . .

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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