Nutrition and cancer prevention: can diet protect us from the most feared disease?
On the role of nutrition in the prevention of cancer and even the therapeutic role of some foods, fierce controversy has sparked between the representatives of the academic environment and the followers of natural therapies.
Last but not least, this aspect has been and is a highly debated and analysed subject in the online environment, making food a more important element than even cancer itself.
Over time, several food sources have been studied to identify potential increases in the risk of cancer associated with the consumption of certain foods and the potential prophylactic effect of other foods.
The analysis included various types of food or food components such as:
• Foods of plant origin including phytochemical compounds such as:
• Carotenoids, present in red, orange or yellow vegetables
• Polyphenols, identified in herbs, spices, green tea, apples, strawberries, raspberries, berries
• Allium, found in garlic, onion, leek, chives
• Antioxidants such as selenium, beta carotene or vitamins C and E
• Vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin D, and group B vitamins
Identifying specific links between eating certain foods and cancer is undoubtedly difficult. Challenges are multiple and contain at least 4 aspects:
• The preventive aspect of certain food principles, an undeniable aspect
• Most people consume a variety of foods that can interact in the body
• The effects of consumption of certain food items are dependent on the amount ingested
• The way food is prepared can influence any beneficial or detrimental effect
Foods of plant origin
Most likely, both fresh and slightly processed fruits and vegetables can protect against the appearance of various cancers such as ENT, oesophagus, stomach, colon, lung, pancreas or prostate cancers. This is most likely due to the cumulative phytochemical agents present in vegetables and fruits that work together to reduce cancer risk either by endocrine action, regulating hormonal secretions such as lowering oestrogen levels or directly decreasing growth of neoplastic cells, or by anti-inflammatory effect.
Research on the preventive role of plant based food has been systematically done on several categories.
Of these, some have been particularly noted, namely: