Nutrition News for Preventing Breast and Colon Cancer

December 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Health


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.

Selenium has role in preventing high risk bladder cancer

Selenium is an essential trace element that we need for health, and now it seems it could play an important role in preventing high risk-bladder cancer for certain groups of people. Researchers from Dartmouth Medical School this month reported in a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research that although not true for everyone some groups who had been newly diagnosed with bladder cancer showed significant reductions in their cancer when they were found to have higher rates of selenium than average in their bodies. The groups affected were women, moderate smokers and those with p53 positive cancer. While other studies have shown a similar association between selenium and bladder cancer among women, this study is one of the first to show an association between selenium and p53 positive bladder cancer. Selenium is a trace element found widely in the environment and good food sources include Brazil nuts, bread, fish, meat and eggs Christmas excess – be prepared!.

Lets hear it for nuts!

This is another natural food that can get a bad press. They are shunned because people – particularly those on a diet – believe that they are bad for you as they are high in natural fats and oils, but this is far from being the case. Raw, not processed or salted, nuts can help fight depression, heart disease and bad cholesterol. That last one may be a bit of a shock, but although it is true that nuts in general contain as much as 80 per cent fat, but there are good fats and bad ones. The type of fat found in nuts is unsaturated fat – specifically monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat and both of these unsaturated fats are known for their ability to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also called “bad” cholesterol, when consumed in moderation.

A few months ago in the USA, a survey examined and reported on the diets of more than 31,000 Seventh Day Adventists – chosen for the similarity of their lifestyle choices – and it was found tha t those who ate nuts more than four times per week experienced 51% fewer heart attacks compared to those who ate nuts less than once per week.

If you want to stick to the most healthy nuts around, these are the top 5 to go for:

1 Pistachios can produce a 10 point drop in your triglycerides and a 16 point decline in your LDL (bad) cholesterol, according to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

2 Walnuts Contains omega 3s which may help ward off depression and heart attack, according to Harvard research. Maybe you should stuff those sardines with lemon and walnuts for extra benefit!

3 Brazil nuts contain selenium, a mineral linked to prostate cancer protection, according to scientists at the University of Arizona.

4 Pecans have the most antioxidants of any nut. Could help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

5 Hazelnuts a handful daily boosts HDL (good) cholesterol levels by 12 percent, according to a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.