Foods that fight cancer

Today’s post is about two books that I will add to my Recommended Readings page. Ah, I would like to thank Sherlock publicly for having found these books. Bravissima!

1. The first is titled “Foods to fight cancer,” by Richard Béliveau and Denis Gingras. Fascinating book, I must say. I haven’t studied all of it (yet), but it’s extremely well done, easy to follow, and has heaps of examples, great charts and colourful photos. First-rate job. If you have just been diagnosed with any sort of cancer, buy this book. Actually, eh, just buy this book, period! 

Okay, we have all heard that bad diets are…bad for us, right? I myself have been guilty of following a terrible diet in the past, particularly when I was in college and grad school. My diet is still not perfect, but it’s a LOT better than it used to be. Ah, but read this: according to Béliveau and Gingras, your poor dietary habits give you a 30% chance of developing cancer. THIRTY PERCENT? I should have eaten more broccoli and Brussel sprouts when I was younger! Drat.  But the shocking part for me is that 30% is also the risk factor percentage assigned to smokers (I have never smoked, by the way)! So if you smoke AND have a poor diet….yikes! Hereditary factors, which most folks believe are high risk factors for cancer, amount only to 15%.

In Part One, the researchers explain what cancer is, how to prevent cancer growth, indeed how to prevent cancer itself. How?

With FOOD. Consider this: even at a one part per thousand dilution, garlic is very toxic to medulloblastoma cells, a very aggressive type of brain tumour. Garlic, one of my favourite foods.

Part Two is devoted to nutraceuticals, that is, foods with anti-cancer potential. Members of the cabbage family, garlic and onions, soy, turmeric, green tea, berries, omega-3, tomatoes, some fruit, resveratrol and (saved the best for last!) chocolate (!) all have separate chapters. My favourite chapter title: “Cancer hates cabbage.” Hehe.

Toward the end, there is also a chapter on supplements. Béliveau and Gingras rightly point out that it’s easier for us to take a vitamin pill than modify pre-existing unhealthy eating habits. These are short-cuts, they write. We would do better (and they explain WHY, of course) by leading a healthier lifestyle. Okay, I agree that we cannot "just eat anything and then get off the hook by taking a pill," but I must point out that, in order to obtain my daily eight grams of curcumin, I would have to consume an enormous amount of turmeric, the spice from which it is extracted. Turmeric contains only 5-8 % of curcumin. I don’t need to whip out my calculator to figure out how much turmeric I would have to consume in my food. I can tell that it would simply not be possible. I do agree, though, that, for instance, we should eat broccoli and garlic and not take broccoli and garlic-based supplements.

2. The second book, by the same authors, is titled “Cooking with foods that fight cancer.” I haven’t yet really examined the first part, which is an introduction to cancer, but I have tried a couple of the recipes: the broccoli soup and the tomato and apple soup. I would suggest adding less water to both recipes, unless you like watery soup. I also always add more turmeric than the amounts listed. Eh!

I will leave you with a couple of fascinating titbits from book 1:

1. “Turmeric was already featured in the list of over two hundred and fifty medicinal plants mentioned in a series of medical treatises dating from 3000 BC, written in cuneiform on stone tablets, collected by King Assurbanipal (669-627 BC)…”
2. “Turmeric content in mustard is about 50 milligrams per 100 grams; a North American or British adult would have to eat four kilograms (about nine pounds) of mustard per day to have a turmeric intake similar to that of an Indian!”