Updated: Dec 2, 2020
A word that impacts nearly every single person on this planet. Whether diagnosed with the disease or living with someone has been, cancer is a reality for far too many in our modern world; especially when we learn what cancer really is, how it develops and how nutrition and lifestyle determine whether or not we will suffer the consequences of this very modern disease.
Let's dip our toes into the fountain of knowledge a bit and explore what is known about this disease and the role of nutrition in its development. This is just a snippet of the information available about nutrition's powerful role in fighting cancer, please take a deep dive and keep learning!
This article is meant for informational purposes only and not intended to provide any medical advice. Please speak with your own personal and trusted health adviser before making any health decisions.
We have enormous control in preventing and treating this disease – through our nutrition and lifestyle choices. There are most certainly ways to minimize your risk for cancer development through dietary changes, however first we need to understand what cancer actually is and how it forms in the body. Once we have a better understanding of the disease, we can explore how to prevent and treat its growth in our bodies.
Cancer is an abnormal growth process of the cell. In a cancerous cell, the nucleus has been infected causing it to lose control of the cell’s growth, essentially never shutting it off. As the cell continues growing, beyond what is optimally healthy for it, it becomes what we understand as cancerous. Most of us, and at all times, have these ‘precancerous’ cells in our bodies. However, a healthy immune system is able to find these precancerous cells and remove them from the body before they can begin their lethal growth mutation.
So get training - start eating for optimal immune function - and win that fight! How does a healthy immune system fight cancer? It goes a little something like this:
Carcinogen enters the body and tries to find a cell in which to make a new home
It becomes oxidized and manages to invade the nucleus of a cell
The invasion produces oncoproteins in the cell
Body identifies this cell as ‘abnormal’ and calls out for help
Immune system hears the call, finds the offender and removes it from the body
Cancer avoided! Phew, that was close!!
But what if the immune system is not healthy? What if it cannot find the invaders and they are allowed to take over more cells, make more homes and eventually take over?? What if the immune system cannot even hear the call for help? Well, that story develops quite differently. And at the end of the story, there is no relief.
Cancer and Nutrition.
Can our knowledge of nutrition help us in preventing and treating cancers? If we explore what we know, and more importantly what we do not know, through scientific study and experimentation, then our knowledge can serve to guide us towards a cancer free reality. Let’s take a look at what some of these studies and experiments have taught us over the years. The examples listed here are by no means comprehensive. They are a sampling of what is out there to be learned and known – serving to whet the appetite of knowledge but not to satiate it. Always continue to hunger for more when it comes to learning.
In his book Super Immunity, Dr. Joel Fuhrman states that “In various studies, phytochemicals have been found to play protective roles not covered by vitamins and minerals, including the following:
· Inducing detoxification enzymes
· Controlling the production of free radicals
· Deactivating and detoxifying cancer-causing agents
· Protecting cell structures from damage by toxins
· Fueling mechanisms to repair damaged DNA sequences
· Impeding the replication of cells with DNA damage
· Inducing beneficial antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral effects
· Inhibiting the function of damaged or genetically altered DNA
· Improving immune cells’ cytotoxic (destructive) power – that is, the power to kill microbes and cancer cells
This list could be condensed into one primary role: phytochemicals are the fuel that runs our body’s anticancer defenses. A diet rich in phytochemicals is the best artillery we have to fight the war on cancer.” - Super Immunity by Dr. Joel Fuhrman