1. Green tea
In test tube studies, a powerful compound in green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) blocked many processes involved with cancer development and growth. Population studies suggest it may protect against several cancers, including those of the esophagus, stomach, prostate and breast. Some research has found no benefit for people with cancer. But one Chinese study on women with a certain type of ovarian cancer found that those who drank the most green tea after their diagnosis had higher survival rates than those who drank the least. More research is under way, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, go ahead and drink two to four cups a day if you enjoy the light flavour of this delicate tea, which is also rich in antioxidants.
Curcumin, the antioxidant that gives this spice its brilliant golden tint, seems to dampen inflammation, protect DNA from damage and possibly even stop tumours from growing blood vessels. Turmeric protected lab animals against some cancers, but human studies haven’t been as convincing. Until we know more, sprinkle away-especially when cooking Indian and Asian dishes, in which it’s a common ingredient. It certainly can’t hurt, and might even help as a cancer fighting food.
Garlic supplements are being studied for their potential to slow the growth and perhaps even prevent certain cancers. Population studies suggest that garlic may help prevent stomach and colorectal cancers. Eating garlic certainly can’t hurt, and garlic supplements, when combined with small doses of the mineral selenium, might prove a useful cancer fighting food. Research is ongoing.
Packed with plant estrogens called isoflavones, this Asian food staple has been shown to lower the risk of breast and endometrial cancers in most population studies. Yet some experts worry that soy’s weak estrogens could actually increase the risk of hormone-sensitive cancers (such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer and endometrial/uterine cancer). For most people, however, a few helpings of soy per week are perfectly fine. If you have estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer, have no more than 50 to 85 milligrams of isoflavones a day.
This herb, already popular for treating morning and motion sickness, is being studied for delayed nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, a common side effect of cancer treatment and one that can make it difficult to eat. Ginger is thought to affect receptors in the digestive tract for the neurotransmitter serotonin-similar to how anti-nausea drugs work.