Drs. Roizen & Oz: Foods that Prevent Cancer

Our basic premise is: Your body is amazing; you get
a do-over; it doesn’t take that long, and isn’t that hard
if you know what to do.

In these columns we give you a short course in what to
do so it becomes easy for you to do and to teach others. We
want you to know how much control you have over your
quality and length of life.

In the last few issues (you do read and memorize all our
columns, don’t you?) we came to the conclusion that the
most important tips to staying young are:

1. Understand you get a do-over. It’s not that hard, and
it doesn’t take that long if you know what to do.
2. Start with walking.
3. Recruit a buddy and call daily.
4. Learn how to make YOU-turns when you don’t meet
your goals.
5. Turn sirtuin on with a glass of wine, knotweed pie
or a sirtuin drug (someday) every night.
6. Aim lower: Know your BP numbers and get them to
115/75, whatever it takes.
7. Food is not Let’s Make a Deal: Choose four handfuls
a week of broccoli or any cruciferous vegetable
to make prostate, breast and colon cancer much
less likely.
8.Add some important stuff—walnuts, algae, coffee,
turmeric and blueberries for your brain.

In this month’s column we want you to learn about
foods that fight cancer.

When it comes to foods that fight cancer, you can pretty
much guess that they don’t come in little snazzy bags with
creative spellings on them (like “cheez,” for instance). But
the following cancer-fighters are almost as easy to find and
fit into a bag and into your life.

Walnuts, almonds and pistachios.These contain a
potent substance that may thwart cancerous tumors. The
hard part is pronouncing the substance, named inositol
pentakisphosphate. The easy part is fitting them into your
lifestyle. Can’t do nuts? The compound is also found in
wheat bran and most legumes.

Chewy, toothsome whole grains. Try grains including
quinoa, kasha, millet, chia and spelt, and you may reduce
your risk of cancer of the small intestine. In a large-scale
study of adults, those who ate the most whole grains
were 41 percent less likely to develop cancer of the
small intestine.

Rosemary chicken. Or rosemary lemonade. Or rosemary in your tossed salads. In lab studies, rosemary extract has
given both breast
cancer and leukemia cells a real fight.

In addition to these keys, as we mentioned in the October issue,
four handfuls a week of broccoli or any cruciferous vegetable will
make prostate, breast and colon cancer much less likely. See, what
you eat can dramatically influence how well and how long you
live. Remember to choose health yourself, and tell at least one
other person.

Now you probably remembered to add cruciferous vegetables
like broccoli, but we have more to that broccoli story—something
that can add some zip to it. Yes, some cancers are sneakier than art
thieves; you don’t even know they’re there until the damage has
been done. But there’s a way to give extra oomph to the broccoli that
thwarts cancer’s plans (there’s probably a way to get extra success in
thwarting art thieves’ plans, too, but we’ll leave that to other experts),
and that’s to fi ll your plate with a little tender-crisp crunch and a little
zip. Specifically, spice up your broccoli with some red chili peppers.

Add the other cruciferous veggies too—arugula, cauliflower,
brussels sprouts, cabbage and watercress—not just for their anticancer
effect. They turn on the GSTM1 genes that make a protein
that binds to and causes prostate, colon and breast cancer cells
to commit suicide. But they also improve memory and decrease
type II diabetes risk. And women who ate the most from this
family scored the same on brain tests as women who were two
years younger than they were. But why add red chili peppers
to these veggies?

In the lab, a compound called phenethyl isothiocyanate,
found in cruciferous veggies including broccoli, cabbage and
cauliflower, stopped ovarian cancer cells from spreading.
Previous studies of people with bladder, prostate, breast and
gut cancers have found that eating four to seven or more servings
of cruciferous vegetables a week can prevent the growth
of these cancers by 50 percent. Capsaicin, abundant in red
chili peppers, also helped stop pancreatic cancer cells from
spreading. That’s like jailing the art thugs before they even
begin the heist.

More than anything, cancer cells want energy. After all,
these cells have a mechanism that makes them replicate very
efficiently—and also makes them stronger than normal cells in
your body. If the cells don’t get that energy, they kill themselves
off because they outgrow their energy supply. Somehow, the
compounds in chili peppers and these veggies encourage the
killing-off process.

What foods to avoid? The evidence is circumstantial but
growing: Avoiding saturated fat (four-legged animal fat plus
palm and coconut oil), trans fat (partially hydrogenated vegetable
oils), simple sugars and syrups added to food, and any grain
but 100 percent whole grain, reduces risk of several common cancers
such as colon, breast and prostate.

So add more cruciferous vegetables to salads, pastas and side
dishes; increase the zip of nearly anything with chili peppers—or
pair these foods together in a stir-fry. And chalk another one up to
the power of everyday foods—walnuts, pistachios, almonds, whole
grains, rosemary, cruciferous veggies and chili peppers.

Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is a professor of internal medicine and anesthesiology,
and chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the
Cleveland Clinic. Mehmet C. Oz, M.D., is a professor and vice chairman of
surgery, as well as director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Integrated
Medical Center at New York’s Presbyterian-Columbia University.

Roizen and Oz are the authors of the New York Times best-selling YOU
series, including their recent releases, YOU Having a Baby and YOU Being
Beautiful: The Owner’s Manual to Outer and Inner Beauty
(Free Press).
Their goal: By the year’s end, you’ll have extended your body’s warranty with
surefire anti-aging strategies that will, in their words, “Give you more energy
than a Labrador puppy.”

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