Cancer-fighting foods you should gobble up

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

squash cancer food
There are many kinds of squash, like pumpkins and zucchini.

Even though breast cancer rates have gone down in recent years, the American Cancer Society says women still have a 1 in 8 chance of developing the disease. It’s safe to say no one wants to have this terrible illness in their life, so take action and watch what you eat, to reduce the risk! That’s right, nutritionists are encouraging individuals to consume foods which will not only increase overall health, but also lower their chances of getting cancer.

Let’s start off with soy, which was once thought to actually cause cancer! “It was feared that components of soy had estrogen-like properties that influenced the growth of breast cancer cells,” said Dr. Barry Boyd, creator of the integrative medicine program at Greenwich Hospital-Yale Health Systems and director of nutritional oncology. “Science has not only proved an absence of risk, there’s also a possible benefit.”

It’s true! A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that breast cancer survivors who ate soy had a lower chance of developing it again in the future. Nifty little chemicals called “isoflavones” are responsible for the benefits.

Next up on the cancer fighting menu are some rather colorful characters – carotenoids – that give certain foods their yellow, green, or orange hues. A study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention showed that diets high in carotenoids were associated with a “greater likelihood of breast cancer-free survival.” Foods high in these chemicals include kale, sweet potato, squash, and spinach.

Well, what’s a diet without a little meat? Pretty rough in my opinion, and if you have the same belief, you’ll want to chow down on fish. These fin-flapping bad boys are filled with omega-3 fatty acids that, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, prevent cancer cells from spreading or growing larger. Women with the illness who ate fish like salmon, haddock, cod, halibut, and sardines, had roughly a 25% less chance of getting cancer again!

However, just because these foods help women battle cancer doesn’t mean all individuals shouldn’t include them in their diets. “We understand cancer quite differently today than we did when President Nixon declared a war on cancer in the 1970s,” said Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, founder of Gaynor Integrative Oncology. “We know now that certain foods make your body inhospitable for cancer cells to thrive. The goal is to keep cancer cells dormant, and what you eat makes a difference.”

Image of squash courtesy of wildfeuer on Wikipedia.