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The GreenMedInfo database has assembled more than 60 articles and studies regarding what food substances can help kill cancers, including those that are resistant to treatment with drugs. Curcumin (the primary polyphenol within turmeric) was by far the #1 food, with 27 studies attesting to its efficacy. Paprika came in at #2 with 6 studies. Other food substances that were shown to have an effect include:
Cancer is, by and large, a man-made disease, the result of veering too far away from the healthy lifestyles of our ancient ancestors. Avoiding health-sustaining diets and activities, while embracing a highly unnatural lifestyle and continually dousing your insides and outsides with excess chemicals is what causes many cancers to develop, which is why what you eat is so important to avoiding this top killer.
Just as it's widely known that certain foods -- such as fructose and processed meats -- contribute to cancer, other foods can help prevent it and still others may actually kill cancerous cells, including those that are resistant to drug treatment.
The Problem with Multi-Drug Resistant Cancer
You've probably heard about the problems with drug-resistant bacteria like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is much more dangerous than ordinary Staphylococcus aureus because it has become resistant to the broad-spectrum antibiotics commonly used to treat it, such as methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin.
Just as bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics, cancer can become resistant to the drugs used to treat it, namely chemotherapy drugs. As stated in the journal Nature Biotechnology:
"Multidrug resistance, the principal mechanism by which many cancers develop resistance to chemotherapy drugs, is a major factor in the failure of many forms of chemotherapy. It affects patients with a variety of blood cancers and solid tumors, including breast, ovarian, lung, and lower gastrointestinal tract cancers.
Tumors usually consist of mixed populations of malignant cells, some of which are drug-sensitive while others are drug-resistant. Chemotherapy kills drug-sensitive cells, but leaves behind a higher proportion of drug-resistant cells. As the tumor begins to grow again, chemotherapy may fail because the remaining tumor cells are now resistant."
Using chemotherapy to target all cancers is somewhat of a shot in the dark, and is rarely the best option for cancer treatment anyway, as it usually typically doesn't cure cancer or extend life -- and it rarely improves quality of life. But adding to its downfalls is the fact that many cancers are now developing resistance to it, which makes its usefulness even more questionable.
What chemo does do, however, is expose your body to toxins that kill all cells that multiply and divide rapidly. This includes not only cancer cells, but also other rapidly multiplying and dividing cells, such as bone marrow, reproductive system cells and hair follicles.
These are powerful drugs that present an assault on your system -- one that your body must then overcome along with the cancer. An alternative form of treatment (or at the very least a complementary one) that is showing great promise is the potential to use food as your "drug" to naturally ward off and even treat diseases like cancer.
Can Food be Your Medicine?
GreenMedInfo has compiled research on 66 natural substances in food that have shown promise in treating multi-drug resistant cancer. These foods may not work for ALL cancers, so you have to be careful and also work with a knowledgeable health care practitioner who is experienced in treating cancer. Unfortunately, many are still in denial about the power each individual wields over their own health, and that preventing disease and even treating disease can be as simple as modifying your diet and lifestyle -- essentially, altering the environment of your body, to provide the best, most health-promoting growth medium possible for all your cells.
Part of the explanation for why food can have such a powerful influence on serious diseases such as cancer is due to its influence on a biological process called angiogenesis -- the process your body uses to build blood vessels. Cancerous cells, like all other cells in your body, cannot thrive without the oxygen and nutrients supplied by your capillaries.
Excessive angiogenesis (too many blood vessels) promote diseases such as cancer.
Most of us actually carry around microscopic cancer cell clusters in our bodies all the time. The reason why we all don't develop cancer is because as long as your body has the ability to balance angiogenesis properly, it will prevent blood vessels from forming to feed these microscopic tumors. Trouble will only arise if, and when, the cancer cells manage to get their own blood supply, at which point they can transform from harmless to deadly.
As our ancestors intuitively understood, nature has laced a large number of foods and herbs with naturally occurring inhibitors of angiogenesis, rendering them natural "anti-cancer medicines." Simply by consuming these anti-angiogenetic foods you can naturally boost your body's defense system and prevent blood vessels from forming and feeding the microscopic tumors that exist in your body at any given time.
Food can also be used therapeutically to target and treat specific cancers, such as the work of Dr. Nick Gonzalez, who uses three protocols -- diet, supplements and enzymes, and detoxification -- to treat cancer.
Curcumin: #1 Cancer Fighter
A number of different foods have shown anti-cancer effects, but many researchers consider the curcumin in turmeric to have the greatest potential in combating cancer -- and this is also the food that has the most supporting evidence on GreenMedInfo.
Curcumin currently has the most evidence-based literature supporting its use against cancer than any other nutrient. Interestingly this also includes the metabolite of curcumin and its derivatives, which are also anti-cancerous. Best of all, curcumin appears to be safe in the treatment of nearly all cancers, including multi-drug resistant cancers.
Much of curcumin's power seems to lie in its ability to modulate genetic activity and expression -- both by destroying cancer cells, and by promoting healthy cell function. It also promotes anti-angiogenesis, as discussed above. Researchers have also found that curcumin can affect more than 100 different pathways once it gets into the cell. More specifically, curcumin has been found to:
Inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells
Inhibit the transformation of cells
from normal to tumor
Inhibit the synthesis of a protein thought to be
instrumental in tumor formation
Help your body destroy mutated cancer
cells so they cannot spread throughout your body
Help prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth (angiogenesis)
For instance, a study in Biochemical Pharmacology found that:
"Curcumin I is the most effective MDR [multi-drug resistance] modulator among curcuminoids, and may be used in combination with conventional chemotherapeutic drugs to reverse MDR in cancer cells."
Separate research highlighting curcumin's effectiveness against multi-drug resistant cancer include:
- A study in Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology found curcumin may be useful in the reversal of multi-drug resistance in pancreatic cancer chemotherapy.
- Research in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications revealed curcumin promotes programmed cell death in multi-drug resistant human lung cancer cells.
An important point and one you need to understand. Just because an herb is natural does not mean it will help. Some herbs and natural approaches can actually worsen cancer so you have to be very careful. Fortunately, curcumin is one of the only ones that appears to be universally useful. But if you want to use another herb you are strongly cautioned to seek an expert in these therapies. I have interviewed Donnie Yance, Dr. LaValley, Dr. Gonzalez, and Dr. Burzynski. These are examples of experts who could help walk you through the process of understanding which natural agents would be best for you.
What Other Foods Show Cancer-Fighting Potential?
Also high on GreenMedInfo's list of natural substances that may help fight mutli-drug resistant cancer were:
Carotenoids are the compounds in your foods that give them that vibrant cornucopia of color, from green vegetables to red beets, to the spectacular yellows and oranges of your bell peppers.
There are more than 700 naturally occurring carotenoids, but most people are familiar with only a few. Many carotenoids are easily obtainable through a healthy diet rich in fresh organic produce, however one exception is astaxanthin, a little-known carotenoid believed to be the most potent antioxidant nature has to offer. Astaxanthin is difficult to get from dietary sources alone, but is worth learning more about due to its beneficial effects on human health.
Lycopene, another antioxidant carotenoid, gives tomatoes their red color, and works by fighting damaging free radicals in your body. It has also shown cancer-fighting potential, particularly for prostate cancer.
Sulforaphane and Indole-3-Carbinol
A compound found in broccoli and other cruciferous veggies, sulforaphane selectively targets cancer stem cells, and by doing so, it effectively prevents the cancer from spreading and/or recurring. This is something current chemotherapies cannot do, but food can!
Another component of broccoli and cruciferous veggies, indole-3-carbinol, halts the cell cycle in breast cancer cells without actually killing the cells. The cell cycle is a rigidly prescribed series of steps a cell must go through before it can divide in two, involving the duplication of the cell's contents and a final split.
If you can alter specific components of the cell cycle, you can stop the growth of cancer cells without killing normal cells. Indole-3-carbinol interferes with the cell cycle in a way that turns off a gene for an enzyme important in the cell's growth cycle.
Flavonoids are natural chemicals found in plants, fruits and vegetables. They're actually the largest group of several thousand compounds belonging to the antioxidant-rich polyphenol family.
Flavonoids are further broken down into subclasses that you have likely heard of such as anthocyanins, flavonols, flavones, flavanones and flavanols. These terms, along with flavonoid and polyphenols (also called phytochemicals), are often used interchangeably in the literature, but they're broken into these different groups because they have varying chemical structures.
While all flavonoids are antioxidants, some have stronger antioxidant properties than others, depending on their chemical structure. Flavonoids are present in most all vegetables, including onions, broccoli and greens, as well as fruits such as apples, grapes and berries.
The Future of Cancer Treatment: Targeting Your Individual Genome
If you're looking for a diet that can help you lower your chances of developing cancer, follow the steps in my nutrition plan and work your way up to the advanced level. This is an excellent strategy for cancer prevention as well as reaching high levels of health in all areas.
However, for cancer treatment you may be better served by following a diet that is customized for your genome. This is the future of cancer treatment, and you can learn more about it in my recent interview with Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski and his son, Dr. Gregory Burzynski. They employ novel gene-target therapies in the treatment of cancer, which includes studying the patient's entire cancerous genome, analyzing some 24,000 genes in each cancer patient, in order to identify the abnormal genes.
Once identified, medications and complementary strategies such as diet and supplements are selected to treat these corrupted genes.
This can be important, as some supplements and foods -- although generally accepted as beneficial -- can make some cancers worse. But with gene-targeted therapy, genetic analysis is used to customize every aspect of the treatment. This customization also includes your diet, because as Dr. Burzynski says, "Diet is after all a combination of chemicals," meaning nutrients. For more information, please listen to the interview in its entirety, and also see my list of top strategies for cancer prevention to round out your knowledge.