Consider this number: 10 million. That’s how many cases of cancer are diagnosed worldwide each year. Now consider this number: 15 million. That’s how many cases of cancer the World Health Organization estimates will be diagnosed in the year 2020 – a 50 per cent increase – if we don’t take some preventive action.
The truth is, most cancers don’t develop overnight or out of nowhere. Cancer is largely predictable, the end result of a decades-long process, rather like heart disease. And, like heart disease, just a few health-boosting changes in your daily life can significantly reduce your risk of developing the dreaded ‘Big C’. Here are 27 of the best pieces of advice.
Introduce your family to sauerkraut. Not only does cabbage contain cancer-protecting plant compounds called flavonoids but, also, a Finnish study has found that the fermentation process involved in making sauerkraut produces several other cancer-fighting compounds, including ITCs, indoles and sulphoraphane. Rinse canned or bottled sauerkraut to reduce the salt.
Steam rather than microwave broccoli. Broccoli is a cancer-preventing superfood, one you should eat frequently. To preserve its nutrients, steam it, eat it raw or add it to soups and salads.
Sprinkle Brazil nuts over your salad. They’re a rich form of selenium, a trace mineral that convinces cancer cells to commit suicide and helps cells to repair their DNA. A Harvard study of more than 1000 men with prostate cancer also found that those with the highest blood levels of selenium were 48 per cent less likely to develop advanced disease over 13 years than men with the lowest levels.
Take a calcium supplement with vitamin D. A US study suggests that these supplements reduce colon polyps (a risk factor for colon cancer) in susceptible people. And make sure that all the dairy products in your diet are fat-free – you’ll get all the calcium benefits with none of the detriments of saturated fat.
Add garlic to everything you eat. Garlic contains sulphur compounds that may stimulate the immune system’s natural defences against cancer, and may have the potential to reduce tumour growth. Studies suggest that garlic can reduce the incidence of stomach cancer by as much as a factor of twelve.
Sauté 2 cloves of crushed garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then mix in a can of chopped tomatoes. Stir gently until heated and serve over wholemeal pasta. The lycopene in the tomatoes protects against colon, prostate and bladder cancers; the olive oil helps your body to absorb the lycopene; the fibre-filled pasta reduces your risk of colon cancer; and see above for garlic. Plus, it tastes good – a perfect combination.