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5 Foods to Reduce the Risk of Lung Cancer

First things first: If you smoke, stop. Tobacco use is responsible for 87 per cent of lung cancer deaths. Of course, even non-smokers get lung cancer (and being around second-hand smoke can increase your risk by up to 30 per cent). While it’s certainly not license to puff away, eating certain foods may help you breathe a little easier.

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1. Cruciferous Vegetables

If carcinogens are like a heavy metal band that’s prone to trashing hotel rooms, think of cruciferous vegetables as a crack security squad that hustles them out before they do harm. What makes vegetables like cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and especially broccoli such great bodyguards is their sulforaphane, considered one of the most potent cancer fighters found in food.

Cruciferous vegetables also contain a substance called indole-3-carbinol, which works like a cleanup crew, repairing damage that carcinogens do to cells before they can turn cancerous. No wonder some research suggests that eating more broccoli and Brussels sprouts may lower the risk of lung cancer by as much as 40 per cent.

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2. Oranges, Papayas, Peaches, Red Bell Peppers, and Carrots

Notice something these foods have in common? The colours orange and red, of course. They come from a type of carotenoid (an orange antioxidant pigment) called beta-cryptoxanthin that seems to safeguard smokers. Results from the Singapore Chinese Health Study suggest that diets high in beta-cryptoxanthin lower lung cancer risk by about 25 percent, and by 37 per cent in smokers.

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3. Soy Foods

Some very early research suggests that as in breast cancer, estrogen may encourage the growth of lung tumors, and researchers suspect that blunting estrogen’s effects may help slow or even stop lung cancer’s development.

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4. Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel, and Other Foods High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Some research suggests the combination of cigarette smoke and animal fats promote lung cancer. Substituting fish high in omega-3 fatty acids for meats appears to minimize the effect.

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5. Spinach, Kale, Beans, and Other Foods Rich in Folate

If you smoke (or recently quit), load up on folate, a B vitamin that safeguards cells from tobacco carcinogens. Another study done at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center found that former smokers who had enough folate in their diets lowered their risk of lung cancer by 40 percent. Smoking drains folate from the body, as does alcohol consumption.