Five Superstar Anti-Cancer Compounds: And Where to Find Them in Food
Anti-Cancer Compounds in Your Food
If you do a search for “Anti-Cancer Foods” you will find lists and lists of foods that have compounds proven to fight and prevent cancer cells from forming, spreading and even cause them to die off. Food plays a very important role in preventing and fighting cancer. Whether you decide to treat cancer using traditional methods or choose an alternative method one thing will remain the same… you still need to eat food. Sounds pretty obvious but it may have more of an impact on the success or potential side effects of your treatment than you know.
There are many different compounds that are found in food and between different foods these compounds can remain similar in their function and method of aiding the body. In 1991 the National Cancer Institute conducted a study to identify these compounds and their implications with cancer. After their $20 million study of fruits and vegetables (Journal of the Nation Cancer Institute April 17, 1991) they identified a few superstar compounds:
- Protease Inhibitors
- Phytic Acid
These compounds come in various forms and for this article I will just focus on a few of them.
One isoflavone that gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so, is Genistein. It is a hormone-like substance that has been the subject of numerous studies. It has been studied for its ability to inhibit the initialization of cellular pathways that lead to cancer and stop Notch signaling, the Notch pathway is a regulator of natural immunity and inflammation. Genistein is a phytoestrogen and antioxidant. This powerhouse isoflavone is still being studied for the many anticancer, anti-inflammation, antioxidant and various other implications.
Researchers in Finland came to the conclusion that areas of Japan have lower rates of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer due to the dietary absorption of genistein. Genistein is a weaker estrogen that binds itself on estrogen receptors in cancerous cells that need this hormone to grow. Genistein is also great at depriving cancer cells of tyrosine protein kinase, which is necessary for them to flourish, and disrupting enzymes that allow cancerous tumors development.
This is all pretty a pretty fancy way of saying that the isoflavone genistein is a power player when it comes to fighting cancer. It is a massive anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Foods naturally rich in isoflavones could be a great addition to an anti-cancer diet.
Protease inhibitors have been widely studied for their ability to combat cancer by preventing the synthesis of key proteins required for cancer cells spread. By destroying premalignant cells they block the initiation of the cancer process. One specific protease inhibitor that has been specifically studied for its implications with cancer is the Bowman-Birk inhibitor. In vitro and in vivo studies have shown that the Bowman-Birk inhibitor can exert a protective and/or suppressive effect on cancer development. It has also been studied for its anti-inflammatory effects and immune boosting properties while reducing auto-immune responses.
The Bowman-Birk inhibitor has shown some pretty incredible results when tested against numerous human cancer cell lines and animal-based cancer models. All this and it does not interfere with function and replication of normal, healthy cells.
Yet another powerful compound on our list that helps destroy cancerous and precancerous cells, but not normal, healthy cells. Foods naturally rich in protease inhibitors could be a great addition to an anti-cancer diet.