Can eating Italian food
cut your cancer risk?
February 29th, 2012 by Holly Cornish
Your mouth probably waters at the thought of a favorite Italian dish featuring savory spices such as fresh basil, rosemary and sage.
And many of these dishes aren’t complete without a rich tomato sauce to layer on the pasta or vegetables.
While you may lick your lips just thinking about it—that same dish can make a cancer cell see RED. Keep reading to find out what these delicious foods can do to cancer. . .
Continued below. . .
The Case Against Detoxing
Why detoxing can actually make your body more toxic…Plus what to do instead to rid your body of pesticides, heavy metals, and other dangerous chemicals -span>
You’ve probably heard that detoxing is good for your health. You’ve heard it can remove pesticides, heavy metals and chemicals from your body. You’ve heard that it can bolster your immune system and help support a healthy liver.
But here’s something you should know: Detoxing can actually make your body more toxic! That’s right, detoxing can actually make you sicker!
Tomato’s powerful health benefits are credited to a component called lycopene. Numerous studies suggest lycopene may affect cancers of the bladder, breast, cervix, colon, esophagus, lung, prostate, skin and stomach.
It’s a phytochemical — a plant nutrient — that gives foods such as guava, pink grapefruit, tomatoes and watermelon their color.
Lycopene belongs to the carotenoid family of nutrients, but unlike alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, your body does NOT use it to make vitamin A. But your body DOES use it as a powerful antioxidant…
Lycopene helps stop body rot!
Free radicals are highly destructive molecules or atoms that are short of an electron and looking to steal one from another molecule or atom. They cause a great deal of damage to the body and are one of the principal causes of aging and disease. Unfortunately, your body is bombarded by free radicals every single day.
You come in contact with these cell-damaging molecules through radiation from the sun or x-rays… cigarette smoke… smog… and the hundreds of toxins you inhale when breathing or ingest in food and water…
Free radicals cause your body to age and rust from the inside out. But the good news is antioxidants can soak up free radicals like sponges.
When your body has plenty of antioxidants available, it can minimize the harm that free radicals cause. Several studies suggest that antioxidants even protect against the type of cell damage that causes various types of cancer. Consider a few examples of how lycopene…
- Pounces on pancreatic cancer!
A Canadian study examined the effects of carotenoids on pancreatic cancer risk over several years. Researchers found that lycopene from tomatoes helped reduce pancreatic cancer by 31 percent in patients who ate the most tomatoes or tomato products versus those who consumed the least (“Dietary Intake of Lycopene is Associated with Reduced Pancreatic Cancer Risk” — The Journal of Nutrition — March 2005).
- Levels lung cancer!
A study published in the October 2000 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the effects of carotenoids on the incidence of lung cancer. Investigators found lung cancer risk was reduced significantly among patients who had higher lycopene intake in their diet.
The study’s authors noted that diets providing 400 to 600 grams of fruit and vegetables daily are associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer. They also found that “smoking alters the concentrations of most carotenoids, including alpha carotene and beta carotene but not lycopene. Therefore, lycopene may have a special role in lung cancer prevention.”
- Pummels prostate cancer!
A Harvard University study of nearly 48,000 men determined that those who ate more than two servings of tomato sauce each week were up to 36 percent less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than those who ate less than one serving of tomato sauce a month over a 12-year period (Journal of the National Cancer Institute — December 6, 1995).
- Blasts breast cancer!
An epidemiological study published in the April 2008 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed more than 84,000 postmenopausal women for seven years. While documenting their intake of lycopene-rich foods and lycopene supplements, researchers also noted any incidence of breast cancer. The authors concluded that consuming lycopene contributed to noticeably reduced incidence of this dreaded disease.
Pretty impressive stuff, huh? Another thing I like about lycopene is that, apparently, cooking and processing don’t destroy it — unlike many other valuable nutrients that can’t take high temperatures. It seems that lycopene remains present in catsup, tomato sauce — in all kinds of heavily processed foods made from tomatoes. For once, you don’t forfeit all the food value.
But are the studies I’ve cited enough proof of lycopene’s ability to act as an effective, all-natural cancer killer? Not everyone thinks so…
Mainstream medicine gives lycopene
a lukewarm reception
The American Cancer Society (ACS) website points out that two studies published in 2007—one following 1,500 men and the second featuring more than 28,000 men—found no difference in the blood lycopene levels of those who later developed prostate cancer and those who did not.
They also contend that animal studies which suggest that lycopene suppresses brain and breast tumors should be taken with a grain of salt—considering that mice are not men. This is true — as far as it goes.
ACS said that because most of the studies touting lycopene’s benefits are case control or other observational studies they tend to be more error prone. They suggest that more clinical trials are needed to truly determine its effectiveness. As always, more study is needed. I won’t argue with that.
But the ACS is a bitter enemy of alternative remedies, so take their opinion for what it’s worth. You can bet their standard of proof is nowhere near as high for conventional drugs — but when it comes to a substance found in food, no evidence is ever enough.
And when it comes to all kinds of dangerous chemicals that cause cancer, the ACS sees no evil as long as the manufactures donate generously. If you don’t believe me, check out Issue #98.
I pay little attention to them. As I’ve often noted, it’s very hard to “prove’ the long-term effect, over many decades, in millions of people, from consuming just one of the thousands of substances found in plants. The evidence for lycopene is not bullet-proof, but it’s strong enough that I take this supplement myself.
In any case, you definitely won’t harm yourself by eating more of the colorful fruits and veggies that are rich sources of lycopene! What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll eat more of these delicious foods.
And you always have the option of boosting your dietary intake with a lycopene supplement. Several brands are readily available in stores or on the Internet.
These measures can give your body added protection and boost its natural defenses against abnormal cell growth.