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Foods that prevent cancer: what to add to your grocery list.

Our basic premise is: Your body is amazing; you get a do-over; it doesn't take that long, and isn't that hard if you know what to do.


In these columns we give you a short course in what to do so it becomes easy for you to do and to teach others. We want you to know how much control you have over your quality and length of life.

In the last few issues (you do read and memorize all our columns, don't you?) we came to the conclusion that the most important tips to staying young are:


1. Understand you get a do-over. It's not that hard, and it doesn't take that long if you know what to do.

2. Start with walking.

3. Recruit a buddy and call daily.

4. Learn how to make YOU-turns when you don't meet your goals.

5. Turn sirtuin on with a glass of wine, knotweed pie or a sirtuin drug (someday) every night.

6. Aim lower: Know your BP numbers and get them to 115/75, whatever it takes.

7. Food is not Let's Make a Deal: Choose four handfuls a week of broccoli or any cruciferous vegetable to make prostate, breast and colon cancer much less likely.

8. Add some important stuff--walnuts, algae, coffee, turmeric and blueberries for your brain.

In this month's column we want you to learn about foods that fight cancer.

When it comes to foods that fight cancer, you can pretty much guess that they don't come in little snazzy bags with creative spellings on them (like "cheez," for instance). But the following cancer-fighters are almost as easy to find and fit into a bag and into your life.

Walnuts, almonds and pistachios. These contain a potent substance that may thwart cancerous tumors. The hard part is pronouncing the substance, named inositol pentakisphosphate. The easy part is fitting them into your lifestyle. Can't do nuts? The compound is also found in wheat bran and most legumes.

Chewy, toothsome whole grains. Try grains including quinoa, kasha, millet, chia and spelt, and you may reduce your risk of cancer of the small intestine. In a large-scale study of adults, those who ate the most whole grains were 41 percent less likely to develop cancer of the small intestine.


Rosemary chicken. Or rosemary lemonade. Or rosemary in your tossed salads. In lab studies, rosemary extract has given both breast cancer and leukemia cells a real fight.

In addition to these keys, as we mentioned in the October issue, four handfuls a week of broccoli or any cruciferous vegetable will make prostate, breast and colon cancer much less likely. See, what you eat can dramatically influence how well and how long you live. Remember to choose health yourself, and tell at least one other person.

Now you probably remembered to add cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, but we have more to that broccoli, but we have more to that broccoli story--something that can add some zip to it. Yes, some cancers are sneakier than art thieves; you don't even know they're there until the damage has been done. But there's a way to give extra oomph to the broccoli that thwarts cancer's plans (there's probably a way to get extra success in thwarting art thieves' plans, too, but we'll leave that to other experts), and that's to fill your plate with a little tender-crisp crunch and a little zip. Specifically, spice up your broccoli with some red chili peppers.

Add the other cruciferous veggies too--arugula, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage and watercress--not just for their anticancer effect. They turn on the GSTM1 genes that make a protein that binds to and causes prostate, colon and breast cancer cells to commit suicide. But they also improve memory and decrease type II diabetes risk. And women who ate the most from this family scored the same on brain tests as women who were two years younger than they were. But why add red chili peppers to these veggies?






In the lab, a compound called phenethyl isothiocyanate, found in cruciferous veggies including broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, stopped ovarian cancer cells from spreading. Previous studies of people with bladder, prostate, breast and gut cancers have found that eating four to seven or more servings of cruciferous vegetables a week can prevent the growth of these cancers by 50 percent. Capsaicin, abundant in red chili peppers, also helped stop pancreatic cancer cells from spreading. That's like jailing the art thugs before they even begin the heist.

More than anything, cancer cells want energy. After all, these cells have a mechanism that makes them replicate very efficiently--and also makes them stronger than normal cells in your body. If the cells don't get that energy, they kill themselves off because they outgrow their energy supply. Somehow, the compounds in chili peppers and these veggies encourage the killing-off process.

What foods to avoid? The evidence is circumstantial but growing: Avoiding saturated fat (four-legged animal fat plus palm and coconut oil), trans fat (partially hydrogenated vegetable oils), simple sugars and syrups added to food, and any grain but 100 percent whole grain, reduces risk of several common cancers such as colon, breast and prostate.

So add more cruciferous vegetables to salads, pastas and side dishes; increase the zip of nearly anything with chili peppers--or pair these foods together in a stir-fry. And chalk another one up to the power of everyday foods--walnuts, pistachios, almonds, whole grains, rosemary, cruciferous veggies and chili peppers.


Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is a professor of internal medicine and anesthesiology, and chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. Mehmet C. Oz, M.D., is a professor and vice chairman of surgery, as well as director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Integrated Medical Center at New York's Presbyterian-Columbia University.

Roizen and Oz are the authors of the New York Times best-selling YOU series, including their recent releases, YOU Having a Baby and YOU Being Beautiful: The Owner's Manual to Outer and Inner Beauty (Free Press). Their goal: By the year's end, you'll have extended your body's warranty with surefire anti-aging strategies that will, in their words, "Give you more energy than a Labrador puppy."
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Title Annotation:A Healthy You
Author:Roizen, Mike; Oz, Mehmet
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2010
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