Sunday, January 02, 2011

Anti-cancer food and drugs

(Note: this is my article for last December 30, 2010)

Christmas is over, but the eating and partying galore is not, as we approach the new year. Like “drugs can heal, drugs can kill”, it can also be said that “food can heal, food can kill.” Eating too much of non-nutritious food can cause future diseases in the body – from hypertension to high cholesterol to cancer.

Cancer is now the number one disease that I am watching, for personal reasons: my elder brother, my sister-in-law, my mother’s first cousin, one of our wedding godmothers, have all died of cancer. Another wedding godmother is now seriously fighting for her life in a hospital because of that disease. And at least 3 friends now have their respective fathers undergoing various anti-cancer treatment. There seems to be so many people who are sick or who have already died of cancer.

I saw a yahoo news article today, 6 cancer-fighting superfoods. It immediately caught my attention. Here are those six great food, according to that news report: broccoli, berries, beans, garlic, tomatoes and walnuts.

Broccoli is known to have a “sizable amount of sulforaphane, a particularly potent compound that boosts the body's protective enzymes and flushes out cancer-causing chemicals, says Jed Fahey, ScD.” This vegetable helps fight breast, liver, lung, prostate, skin, stomach, and bladder cancers.

Berries “are packed with cancer-fighting phytonutrients. Black raspberries contain very high concentrations of phytochemicals called anthocyanins, which slow down the growth of premalignant cells and keep new blood vessels from forming (and potentially feeding a cancerous tumor).” This vegetable helps fight colon, esophageal, oral, and skin cancers.

Beans, a study out of Michigan State University found that :black and navy beans significantly reduced colon cancer incidence in rats, in part because a diet rich in the legumes increased levels of the fatty acid butyrate, which in high concentrations has protective effects against cancer growth.” This vegetable helps fight breast and colon cancers.

Garlic contains phytochemicals which “halts the formation of nitrosamines, carcinogens formed in the stomach (and in the intestines, in certain conditions) when you consume nitrates, a common food preservative.” This veggie helps fight: breast, colon, esophageal, and stomach cancers

Tomatoes are the “best dietary source of lycopene, a carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red hue, BĂ©liveau says. And that's good news, because lycopene was found to stop endometrial cancer cell growth in a study in Nutrition and Cancer. Endometrial cancer causes nearly 8,000 deaths a year. This veggie helps fight endometrial, lung, prostate, and stomach cancers.

Walnuts have phytosterols that are “shown to block estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells, possibly slowing the cells' growth, says Elaine Hardman, PhD, associate professor at Marshall University School of Medicine in Huntington, West Virginia. This veggie helps fight breast and prostate cancers.

These are just among the nutritious foods that we should eat more to help reduce the likelihood of getting any of those cancer diseases. But cancer is inevitable. Somehow sometime, some of us will get that disease. What do we do? Get anti-cancer treatment.

There are plenty of existing anti-cancer drugs, vaccines and other forms of treatment. But they are not enough. Cancer cells are never static. They can easily mutate and evolve, from one case to another, from one patient to another. A particular anti-cancer drug can cure one patient but not another patient suffering from the same type of cancer because of certain genetic differences among people.

Thus, anti-cancer drugs and vaccines need to evolve too. I saw another article, New Report Shows More Than 700 Medicines In Development by New York Companies. This is a good development.

With the new year approaching, I also hope that our appreciation of important researchers and inventors – like those researchers of anti-cancer food and anti-cancer drugs – will improve. We tend to attack them as plain “profit-hungry capitalists” who benefit from dying patients without realizing the value of their work to us and our loved ones who are in need of more revolutionary health treatment.

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