Nutrition News for Preventing Breast and Colon Cancer

December 22, 2009


A couple of updates on new research on a spicy solution that could combat breast cancer and some new dietary strategies to prevent colon cancer. First, researchers at the University of Michigan have come up with a combination of spices to prevent breast cancer, and it was reported in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment last month.

The two magic ingredients are curcumin found in turmeric, that bright yellow spice much used in Indian cooking, plus piperine which is in black pepper. They’ve tested their spicy recipe in the lab on breast cells and found that the combination decreased the number of cancer stem cells that fuel the growth of tumours. The spices interrupted the self-renewal process that is characteristic of the cancer-initiating cells but didn’t harm normal breast cells.

Please note that the amount of curcumin and piperine they used was about 20 times as much as could be consumed through diet and won’t be tested on human volunteers until Spring 2010 in order to find out how high a dose of the spices that humans can safely tolerate. So don’t try huge doses on yourself as the results are not known yet, but an extra grind or two of pepper on your food and a curry a couple of times a week couldn’t hurt if you have a predisposition to breast cancer in your family. If you are looking for recipes I use for herb/spice suggestions and they have a spiced pumpkin and prawn salad that sounds a winner for using turmeric in an unusual way.

Colon Cancer:

Two separate studies have suggested new dietary strategies for preventing colon cancer. An American study has found that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids cut colon cancer risk by nearly 40 percent and the main dietary source for that is found in cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel.

Another study, from Italy, found that a dietary supplement containing selenium reduced the risk of polyps recurring, also by about 40 percent. They looked at 411 individuals from 25-75 years old who had had one or more colorectal polyps removed. Half of this group received a supplement containing 200 micrograms of selenomethionnine (a combination of selenium and methionnine) plus other nutrients. Polyps recurred among only 4.2 percent of those taking the supplement compared to 7.2 percent of the placebo group.

However, although it’s not known whether selenium alone was responsible for the difference or if other nutrients in the supplement played a role, it is a vital nutrient for everyone for good health. It is a trace element found in soil, and is essential for many body processes and is present in nearly every cell but especially in the kidneys, liver, spleen, testes, and pancreas. It acts as an antioxidant against free radicals that damage our DNA and is often included with Vitamins C and E to help fight against cancer, heart disease and even aging. Other benefits of selenium include protection against heart disease, and can help to increase male potency as well as being involved in the maintenance of hair, skin and eyes.

Good Sources of selenium are brazil nuts, poultry, seafood, and meats. Oats and brown rice can also provide significant amounts, but this can depend on the selenium content of the soil in which they have been grown, so go for organic for the highest amounts.


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