The New Times (Kigali)

15 December 2012

Rwanda: By Food Nutrients Offer Protection From Cancer

opinion

Cancer has been labeled as the most aggressive disease on the planet due its destructive effect. Cancers can be classified as benign or malignant. Benign cancer cells or tumors normally act by compression of the neighbouring tissues and curable by surgery.

Malignant cancer cells are the most dangerous strains that destroy neighbouring tissues leading to massive destruction of the body system. This is why medics have to take biopsy from any tumor tissue for pathological investigation. This helps to determine whether the cells involved are benign or malignant.

In modern medicine, there is cancer screening by use of various biomarkers that are manufactured by several pharmaceutical firms. However, cancer is a disease largely originating from lifestyle as well as genetic composition of an individual.

Since food nutrients support the biological function of our body systems, then food nutrients can fend off challenges posed by cancer disease.

We need to feed on selective food nutrients to support regulatory mechanisms in our body system.

Certain food nutrients provide important chemical nutrients that help to prevent certain types of cancer occurrence whereas others like red meat and packed food can expose an individual to increased risk of the disease occurrence.

For example, avocados are rich in glutathione nutrient, a powerful antioxidant that attacks free radicals in the body by blocking intestinal absorption of certain fats. They also supply more potassium than bananas and are a strong source of beta-carotene. Scientists also believe that avocados may be useful in treating viral hepatitis, a cause of liver cancer as well as other sources of liver damage.

Cabbage has a chemical component that can combat breast cancer by converting a cancer-promoting estrogen into a more protective variety.

Carrots contain a lot of beta carotene, which may help reduce a wide range of cancers including lung, mouth, throat, stomach, intestine, bladder, prostate and breast.

Chili peppers contain a chemical which may neutralize certain cancer causing substances and may help prevent stomach cancer.

Grapefruits like oranges and other citrus fruits are believed to help prevent cancer by sweeping carcinogens out of the body. Grapefruit may also inhibit the proliferation of breast cancer cells in vitro. They also contain vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folic acid.

There are a number of mushrooms that appear to help the body fight cancer and build the immune system. Such mushrooms contain polysaccharides that are powerful compounds in building the body immunity. They also have a protein called lectin, which attacks cancerous cells and prevents them from multiplying.

Nuts contain the antioxidants that may suppress the growth of cancers. Some people are allergic to the proteins in nuts, so if you have any symptoms such as itchy mouth, tight throat, wheezing after eating nuts, you need to stop and consider taking a selenium supplement to eliminate this allergy.

Oranges and lemons contain Iimonene which stimulates cancer killing immune cells such as lymphocytes body defence (cells) that may also break down cancer causing substances.

Papayas have vitamin C that works as an antioxidant and may also reduce absorption of cancer causing nitrosamines from the soil or processed foods. Papaya contains folacin, also known as folic acid, which has been shown to minimize cervical dysplasia and certain cancers.

Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that attacks roaming oxygen molecules known as free radicals that are suspected of triggering cancer. It appears that the hotter the weather, the more lycopene tomatoes produce. They also have vitamin C, an antioxidant which can prevent cellular damage that leads to cancer. Watermelons and red peppers also contain these substances, but in lesser quantities. It is concentrated by cooking tomatoes.

Green tea and black tea contain certain antioxidants known as polyphenols which appear to prevent cancer cells from dividing.

Consumption of fruits and vegetables has been associated with decreased risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.

Last but not least, some soya products contain non-steroidal estrogens that could help prevent both breast and prostate cancer by blocking and suppressing cancerous changes.

You have a very important role to play...

The writer is a doctor at the Rwanda Military Hospital-Kanombe.

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