The Effects of Vegetables and Fruits on Cancer Prevention


The China Study, one of the largest studies conducted globally to indicate a plant-base diet as a contributory factor in reversing disease and irradicating cancer cells continues to top the charts as the leading research on nutrition and health. As frequently stated by author T. Colin Campbell, PhD "You can turn off cancer cells by choosing to eat a plant-base diet." He continues to explain how the "Western Diet" plays an important role in facilitating disease.

Another amazing article published by the National Cancer Institute explains how the increase use of vegetables in the diet plays a key role in fighting disease, including cancer.

Why are cancer researchers studying cruciferous vegetables?

Cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin); vitamins C, E, and K; folate; and minerals. They also are a good fiber source.

In addition, cruciferous vegetables contain a group of substances known as glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing chemicals. These chemicals are responsible for the pungent aroma and bitter flavor of cruciferous vegetables.

During food preparation, chewing, and digestion, the glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables are broken down to form biologically active compounds such as indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates (1). Indole-3-carbinol (an indole) and sulforaphane (an isothiocyanate) have been most frequently examined for their anticancer effects.

Indoles and isothiocyanates have been found to inhibit the development of cancer in several organs in rats and mice, including the bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung, and stomach (2, 3). Studies in animals and experiments with cells grown in the laboratory have identified several potential ways in which these compounds may help prevent cancer:

  • They help protect cells from DNA damage.

  • They help inactivate carcinogens.

They have antiviral and antibacterial effects.They have anti-inflammatory effects.They induce cell death (apoptosis).They inhibit tumor blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) and tumor cell migration (needed for metastasis).Studies in humans, however, have shown mixed results.Is there evidence that cruciferous vegetables can help reduce cancer risk in people?Researchers have investigated possible associations between intake of cruciferous vegetables and the risk of cancer. The evidence has been reviewed by various experts. Key studies regarding four common forms of cancer are described briefly below.Prostate cancer: Cohort studies in the Netherlands (4), United States (5), and Europe (6)

  • Is there evidence that cruciferous vegetables can help reduce cancer risk in people?

  • Researchers have investigated possible associations between intake of cruciferous vegetables and the risk of cancer. The evidence has been reviewed by various experts. Key studies regarding four common forms of cancer are described briefly below.Prostate cancer: Cohort studies in the Netherlands (4), United States (5), and Europe (6) have examined a wide range of daily cruciferous vegetable intakes and found little or no association with prostate cancer risk. However, some case-control studies have found that people who ate greater amounts of cruciferous vegetables had a lower risk of prostate cancer (7, 8).Colorectal cancer: Cohort studies in the United States and the Netherlands have generally found no association between cruciferous vegetable intake and colorectal cancer risk (9-11). The exception is one study in the Netherlands—the Netherlands Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer—in which women (but not men) who had a high intake of cruciferous vegetables had a reduced risk of colon (but not rectal) cancer (12).

  • Lung cancer: Cohort studies in Europe, the Netherlands, and the United States have had varying results (13-15). Most studies have reported little association, but one U.S. analysis—using data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study—showed that women who ate more than 5 servings of cruciferous vegetables per week had a lower risk of lung cancer (16).

  • Breast cancer: One case-control study found that women who ate greater amounts of cruciferous vegetables had a lower risk of breast cancer (17). A meta-analysis of studies conducted in the United States, Canada, Sweden, and the Netherlands found no association between cruciferous vegetable intake and breast cancer risk (18). An additional cohort study of women in the United States similarly showed only a weak association with breast cancer risk (19). Read more


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