It’s World Cancer Day on 4 February. Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. There were 9.6 million deaths from cancer across the world in 2018. Lung, liver, breast, prostate, stomach, skin and bowel cancers are the most common causes of cancer deaths. One of the things that makes tumors so dangerous is the ability of certain cancer cells to invade into surrounding tissues and organs, and then spread radically. Around one-third of deaths from cancer are due to five leading behavioural and dietary risks which include high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, consuming tobacco and alcohol use. We should do every things to reduce such risks. Embracing plant foods can be the foremost option.

Go for the Mediterranean diet that offers foods which fight cancer, focusing mostly on plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. The relevance of such foods goes far beyond just their bold flavour profile and satiability: these foods are also powerful medicinal foods with a lot to offer in the realm of healing nutrition. Add these healthy foods to your diet to help prevent cancer:

Broccoli: Eat lots of broccoli. It is loaded with cancer-protective flavonoids. According to Spanish study, microwaving broccoli destroys 97 percent of these flavonoids, so steam it to enjoy maximum health benefits.Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains a compound called sulphoraphane. This compound actively kills cancer stem cells, slowing a tumor’s growth. According to some studies, it also normalises DNA methylation, which is a crucial part of normal cell function and supressing bad genes. Broccoli also activates genes that can prevent cancer development. Broccoli shoots contain over 50 times more sulphoraphane than fully mature broccoli. To take full advantage of this effective cancer-fighter, incorporate steamed broccoli or broccoli shoots with spicy foods that contain myrosinase (an enzyme) in your daily diet.

Kiwifruit: Daily intake of two or three kiwis can lead to a significant increase in repair of damaged DNA and reduce some of the risk factors associated with cancer. Kiwi is well known for its high vitamin C content and thus as a strong immune booster. It is also a powerful antioxidant, as vitamin C prevents fee radical damage. This fruit consists of flavonoids and carotenoids that protect DNA from the damage or oxidative stress that is cancer. It proves its effectiveness in healing different cancers, such as liver cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer. Kiwi extracts inhibit cancer cell proliferation, and its active photochemical, catechin, helps in the prevention of cancer and reduces the toxicity of anti-cancer agents. High intake of some other fruits like pineapple, grapes, apples, strawberries, black raspberries, blue berries, pomegranate and banana can cause retardation in the proliferation of cancer cells. It means that they can slow down the rate at which cancer cells multiply.

Legumes: Legumes fight cancer! Aside from the abundant amounts of protein and fiber, beans also provide ample quantities of folate, phytochemicals, and sterols that have been shown in countless studies to prevent and fight cancer. The three types of phytochemicals present in legumes which fight against cancer are saponins, protease inhibitors and phytic acid. All these phytochemicals are found with the ability to constrain the generation of cancer cells and slow the growth of tumor. Beans are anti-inflammatory and active compounds in them prevent cancer cell formation and slow cancer growth. They are protective against colorectal, breast, lung and prostate cancer. Beans are available in different varieties, such as black eye peas, kidney beans, soya beans, black beans, pinto beans and many more. Nutritionists recommend darker beans to prevent inflammation and thus the growth of cancer cells as they are rich in phytonutrients and selenium.

Whole grains: Whole grains provide you the total benefit of many natural plant compounds that may lower your risk of developing cancer. Whole grains use all three parts of the grain kernel: germ, bran and endosperm. They have many natural compounds that have shown to lower cancer risk, and these are dietary fiber, antioxidants, phenols, lignans and saponins. Dietary fiber helps in avoiding overeating and reducing digestive problems. Antioxidants clean up free radicals in the body and also keep them from damaging DNA, the forerunner of cancer. Phenols have powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties and can act as stimulants for nervous and immune systems. Lignans may slide into estrogen receptors on cells in breast and endometrial tissues. This action may protect cells that could become damaged or cancerous when in contact with female estrogens. Saponins are water and fat-soluble plant compounds that may help your body protect itself from cancer. Choosing whole grains over refined grains is an excellent way to add an anti-cancer punch to your diet. So leave white bread, white rice, white all-purpose flour, regular pasta, plain cracker etc. Make a good-sized batch of whole grain breads, brown rice, wild rice, barley, whole-grain cereals, oatmeal, popcorn, muesli cereal, whole rye, bulgur (cracked wheat), amaranth, buckwheat and whole wheat flour. This list does not end here. You can help you find many more whole grains that can help fight cancer.

Nuts: Nuts can reduce the risk of developing certain cancers. There is growing evidence that eating about a handful of nuts everyday can reduce the risk of several cancers, such as pancreatic, breast, colorectal and ovarian cancer. Nuts are described as “nutritionally precious” to inhibit cancer growth. In terms of antioxidants, walnuts, pecans and peanuts fight cancer better than other nuts and come out as the clear winners, causing a dramatic drop in cancer proliferation at just tiny doses. Eating large amounts of almonds can also reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. Females who eat these nuts in their adolescence may have a better chance of fighting off breast cancer later in life, according to data from the Harvard Nurse’s Study. Another study out of the British Journal of cancer found that even two handful nuts a week may protect against pancreatic cancer. Cashew nuts also contain a class of flavonoids that actually starve tumors and prevent cancer cells from dividing.

A correct cancer diagnosis is essential for adequate and effective treatment because every cancer type requires a specific treatment regimen that encompasses one or more modalities, such as surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The primary goal is to cure cancer and considerably prolong life. Improving the patient’s quality of life is also an important goal that can be achieved by palliative care and psychosocial support.

Today is World Cancer Day! Cancer is one of the greatest health challenges of our time. Together, let us pledge to create a world without cancer. Choose your food wisely and eat your way to cancer-free life.

Give plant foods a chance!