Nutrition and Cancer

16 May 2008

1. Donaldson MS. Nutrition and cancer: A review of the evidence for an anti-cancer diet. Nutr J. 2004;3(1):19

It has been estimated that 30-40 percent of all cancers can be prevented by lifestyle and dietary measures alone. Obesity, nutrient sparse foods such as concentrated sugars and refined flour products that contribute to impaired glucose metabolism (which leads to diabetes), low fiber intake, consumption of red meat, and imbalance of omega 3 and omega 6 fats all contribute to excess cancer risk. Intake of flax seed, especially its lignan fraction, and abundant portions of fruits and vegetables will lower cancer risk. Allium and cruciferous vegetables are especially beneficial, with broccoli sprouts being the densest source of sulforophane. Protective elements in a cancer prevention diet include selenium, folic acid, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, chlorophyll, and antioxidants such as the carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, cryptoxanthin). Ascorbic acid has limited benefits orally, but could be very beneficial intravenously. Supplementary use of oral digestive enzymes and probiotics also has merit as anticancer dietary measures. When a diet is compiled according to the guidelines here it is likely that there would be at least a 60-70 percent decrease in breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers, and even a 40-50 percent decrease in lung cancer, along with similar reductions in cancers at other sites. Such a diet would be conducive to preventing cancer and would favor recovery from cancer as well.

2. Philpott M, Ferguson LR. Immunonutrition and cancer. Mutat Res. 2004;51(1-2):29-42.

The immune system is the body's primary defence against invading pathogens, non-self components and cancer cells. Inflammatory processes, including the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and formation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, are an essential part of these processes. Although such actions are usually followed rapidly by anti-inflammatory effects, excessive production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, or their production in the wrong biological context may lead to situations of chronic inflammation. Whether such conditions arise as a result of exogenous chemicals, invading pathogens or disease processes, the long-term implications include an increased risk of cancer. A number of nutrients have the ability to modulate immune response and counter inflammatory processes. Zinc, epigallocatechin galate (EGCG), omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and probiotics all act differently to modulate immune response, but all appear to have the potential to protect against cancer development and progression. We suggest that immunonutrition may provide a less invasive alternative to immunotherapy in protection against cancers associated with chronic inflammation.

3. Poydock, ME. Effect of combined ascorbic acid and B12 on survival of mice with implanted Ehrilich carcinoma and L1210 leukaemia. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; Dec 1991; 54(6suppl.):1261S-1265S

This study tested the effect of dehydroascorbic acid and hydroxycobalamin (vitamin B12) on the survival of tumour-bearing mice. All controls died by day 19, but greater than 50% of treated mice were alive after day 60. When B12 is combined with vitamin C. the cobalt nucleus of B12 attaches to the carbon on vitamin C, forming cobalt ascorbate. Tests showed that cobalt ascorbate plus vitamin C also inhibited tumour cells.

4. Anti, M, et al. Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on rectal mucosal cell proliferation in subjects at risk for colon cancer. Gastroenterology 1992; 103(3):1096-8.

This study assessed the effects of 12 weeks of omega 3 fatty acid supplementation upon rectal mucosal proliferation in a double-blind, placebo controlled study of 20 patients with sporadic adenomatous colorectal polyps. While no change was noted in the placebo patients, in the group of 10 that received the fish oil containing EPA and DHA, the mean percentage of "S" phase cells (considered a reliable marker of colon cancer risk) significantly dropped from baseline level after only 2 weeks of treatment and remained low throughout the study period. In the fish oil patients, rectal mucosal EPA content increased, whereas arachidonic acid levels decreased. These kinetic changes represent a diminution of the proliferative compartment to levels of a low risk population, possibly related to omega 3 fatty acid modulation of the arachidonic prostaglandin pathway. Fish oil in this short term trial appeared to exert a rapid effect that may protect high-risk subjects from colon cancer.