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Which Foods Suppress Cancer Cell Growth?
In 2009 an important study was conducted which tested the ability of 34 vegetables to suppress tumor cells in 8 different types of human cancer. The types of cancer cells that were tested were from the lung, kidney, brain, stomach, prostate, pancreas, breast, and childhood brain tumors. The rate at which tumor cells reproduced was measured. Six vegetables were found to cut the rate of cancer cell growth in half, while 5 completely stopped cancer cells from growing. One group of vegetables in particular stopped tumor cells from growing 100% in 7 out of the 8 types of cancers tested. The vegetables that cut cancer cell growth by more than 50% are listed below as well as the type of cancer they target. Dr. Michael Greger's list is below:
(1) Radishes - completely eliminated stomach cancer cell growth
(2) Orange bell peppers - cut prostate cancer growth by more than 75%
(3) Spinach - against breast, brain, kidney, lung, pediatric brain tumors, pancreas, prostate, stomach
(4) Radicchio - brain, kidney, lung, prostate, pancreas, stomach
(5) Beets - breast, brain, kidney, lung, prostate, pancreas, stomach
(6) Allium family (Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, scallions, green onion) - Was number one in stopping cancer cell growth 100% in 7 of the 8 different tumors. Garlic was number one against breast, brain, pancreas, prostate, stomach, lung, childhood brain tumors, pancreas, prostate, and stomach cancer and number two against kidney cancer.
The researchers conclude: "The inclusion of cruciferous and allium vegetables in the diet is essential for effective dietary-based chemopreventive strategies."
Dr. Greger's video clip below explains these findings:
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, kale, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli rabe, brocollina, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, horseradish, mustard greens, radish, red cabbage, rutabaga, turnips, turnip greens, watercress, arugula and kohlrabi. More information on cruciferous vegetables can be found here. The allium group includes onions, garlic, shallots, scallions and leeks.
Dr. Greger suggests, "If you're particularly concerned about a specific cancer, like if you have a strong family history of breast cancer, then you can narrow it down and really nail those 5 or 6 veggies every day that excel at targeting breast tissue. But otherwise, to fight against any kind of cancer, we've got to eat a portfolio of vegetables to cover all our bases. Some of these vegetables target multiple cancers at the same time. So we need to eat a variety of vegetables, because each one tends to target different cancers."
Dr. Joel Fuhrman's article, Onions and Garlic are Anti-cancer Foods support these findings as well. These vegetables contain powerful organosulfur compounds, similar to the isothiocyanates in cruciferous vegetables. These compounds are "produced when the cell walls of the vegetables are broken down by chopping, crushing, or chewing." These compounds are responsible for making our eyes tear as we cut them. Dr. Fuhrman emphasizes to preserve as much of the onion that's closest to the root as possible since the anti-cancer compounds are found in the highest concentration near the root. It's important to remember that these vegetables must be chewed well, put in a food processor, or chopped finely before eating to initiate and maximize their protective properties.
According to Dr. Fuhrman, "These compounds prevent the development of cancers by detoxifying carcinogens, halting cancer cell growth, and blocking angiogenesis. Onions also contain high concentrations of health-promoting flavonoid antioxidants, predominantly quercetin, and red onions also contain at least 25 different anthocyanins. Quercetin slows tumor development, suppresses growth and proliferation and induces cell death in colon cancer cells. Flavonoids also have anti-inflammatory effects that may contribute to cancer prevention."
A large European study reported dramatic risk reductions in those participants that consumed greater quantities of onions and garlic. Those cancers that responded well were oral, esophageal, colorectal, laryngeal, breast, ovarian, and cancer of the prostate. The study revealed a remarkable "fifty-five to eighty percent reduction of almost all major cancers."
Vegetables from the allium family offer many other benefits. He says that the allium family of vegetables not only protects and fights cancer, they have anti-diabetic properties and support the cardiovascular and immune system. Dr. Fuhrman continues to say "...the phytochemicals in garlic and onions are also anti-angiogenic, which means that they can prevent tumors from obtaining a blood supply to fuel their growth. In studies of breast cancer cells, garlic and onion phytochemicals have caused cell death or halted cell division, preventing the cancer cells from multiplying."
"Onions, garlic, and their family members also contain flavonoids and phenols. White onions are not as rich in these antioxidant compounds as yellow and red, and shallots are especially high in polyphenol levels. Red onions are particularly rich in anthocyanins (also abundant in berries) and quercetin. Flavonoids such as quercetin can contribute to preventing damaged cells from advancing to cancer, and also have anti-inflammatory effects that may contribute to cancer prevention." For more information regarding diet and cancer, see Dr. Carney's Cancer Pinterest Board.