Cancer Prevention Methods
August 22, 2013

Herbal / Dietary Supplements / Foods that may lower the risk of certain types of cancer: Avocados Banana, Bitter Melon, Brown
Seaweed, Capsicum, Cauliflower, Celery, Chlorophyll, Cordyceps, Curcumin, Dandelion, Ellagic acid, Oldenlandia, Falcarinol, Fenugreek,
, Fish Oil, Forskolin, Galangal, Garlic, Gotu Kola, Green Tea, Grape Seed Extract, Honokiol, Orange, Isothiocyanates, Linseed Oil,
Limes, Lycopene, Maitake, Milk Thistle, Onion, Peony, Phellinus, Quercetin, Pterostibene, Pycnogenol, Reishi, Rhubarb, Saffron, Stinging
Nettle, Sweet Potatoes, and more.

However, most of the studies with these supplements were done in test-tube or animals. It is unclear if they are effective in human body. Cancer
cells can spread very quickly, while most of the herbs/supplements take long time to see the effects. Supplements may be included in their
cancer prevention diet, but they are not medicines. Users must discuss with their medical doctors for the right treatments.
What is Cancer Prevention?

Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer. By preventing cancer, the number of new
cases of cancer in a group or population is lowered. Hopefully, this will lower the number of deaths caused by cancer
and this will lower the chance for us to acquire cancer.

An American Cancer Society (ACS) report points out that at least 50 per cent of all cancer deaths in the United States
could be prevented if Americans make lifestyle adjustments and undergo regular screening for the deadly disease.
Poor nutrition, physical inactivity, overweight, obesity and other lifestyle factors are the key causes for cancers. [1]
According to the report, 35% of US adults are overweight and another 30% are considered obese. Nearly 16% of
between the ages of 6 to 19 are too obese. Obese kids are more likely to become obese adults with a higher risk of
developing cancer and other serious diseases. Eating habit and lifestyle changes are important for cancer prevention
Cancer Prevention Methods

As discussed in the first article of this series, cancer is not a single disease but a group of related diseases. Many
things in our genes, our lifestyle, and the environment around us may increase or decrease our risk of getting cancer.
Thus, we can "modify" our lifestyle, and the environmental factors to prevent gene modification (mutation), as to help to
prevent cancers. In this section, we are going to discuss different methods for cancer prevention:

Cancer Prevention Method 1: Chemoprevention
Chemoprevention is the use of substances to lower the risk of cancer, or keep it from recurring. The substances may
be natural or made in the laboratory. Some chemopreventive agents are tested in people who are at high risk for a
certain type of cancer. The risk may be because of a precancerous condition, family history, or lifestyle factors.

Some chemoprevention studies have shown good results. For example, selective estrogen receptor modulators
(SERMS) such as tamoxifen or raloxifene have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women at high risk.
Finasteride and dutasteride have been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Aspirin is being studied for the
prevention of colorectal cancer.

Cancer Prevention Method 2: Avoiding things known to cause cancer.
In the first article of this series, we have discussed the risk factors for cancer development and they are: (1)
environment / chemicals (asbestos, pesticides, formaldehyde, old hair dyes formulas, tobacco, sunlight and cancer
clusters), (2) food (acrylamide, alcohol, artificial sweeteners (high doses), fluoridated water, and chemicals in meats
cooked at high temperatures, (3) genetics (BRCA1 and BRCA2), (4) hormones (pregnancy, contraceptives), infectious
agents (HIV infection, HPV and Helicobacter pylori), (5) radiation, (6) Obesity, and (7) psychological stress. For details
about these risk factors, please, read the first article -
cancer risk factors of this series of article. Theoretically, avoiding
all these risk factors is a good cancer prevention method.

Cancer Prevention Method 3: Finding precancerous conditions early.
Precancerous conditions are conditions that may become cancer. Prevention and screening represent the twin pillars of
our pre-emptive defenses against cancer. Cancer prevention includes efforts to forestall the process that leads to
cancer, along with the detection and treatment of precancerous conditions at their earliest, most treatable stages, and
the prevention of new, or second primary, cancers in survivors. Cancer screening identifies either precancers or early
cancers that are still highly amenable to treatment while the number of malignant cells is very small.

The nature of  the precancerous conditions depends on the type of the cancer. For examples, Scientists working at
Britain's Medical Research Council, in collaboration with researchers from New York University, have identified changes
in the patterns of sugar molecules that line pre-cancerous cells in the esophagus, a condition called Barrett’s
dysplasia, making it much easier to detect and remove these cells before they develop into esophageal cancer. A
series of microRNA expression signatures that may help to define progression of the precancerous condition Barrett's
esophagus into esophageal adenocarcinoma was reported recently in Cancer Prevention Research. A precancerous
condition known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) is more likely to come back after surgery to remove the
abnormal cells if the cells aren't completely removed. Readers should check with their medical health providers for
detailed information.

Colorectal cancer is popular in the United States. However, colonoscopy is a good cancer prevention method, as it
might prevent hundreds of additional cases of cancer and  colon cancer deaths in the years to come. Colon cancer
screenings can actually prevent cancer by finding pre-cancerous lesions. Colorectal cancers usually develop slowly and
over several years. They usually start as benign polyps, then, convert into cancerous polyps, e.g. adenomas and
dysplasia. Once cancer forms within a polyp, it may eventually spread into blood vessels and the cancer cells may
travel to distant parts of the body-metastasis. In most cases, especially at the initial stage, colorectal cancers fail to
produce any symptoms. When they do, the symptoms are painless rectal bleeding or a change in bowel habits such as
constipation, increased frequency or diarrhea. Screening using colonoscopy is the best way to diagnose and treat
either polyps or cancers. When caught early enough, more than 80 percent of people can be cured of this disease.
Some researchers even suggested to use stool tests together with colonoscopy for early detection or prevention of
colorectal cancers.

It is recommended  to start screening people of average risk by age 50 for cancer prevention.

Cancer Prevention Method 4: Cancer Prevention Diets and Lifestyle
It has been noticed that the incidence of certain cancers in some areas is significantly lower than in other areas of the
world. One typical example is Mediterranean area. As nutrition and dietary factors are ones of the major factors for
cancers..Inspecting their dietary profile, researchers found that Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants. This may
exert preventive measures. [2] It is also noticed that those living in the mountaineous area of Finland ile. Mountain
Lapland have lower occurrence and mortaility from coronary heart disease and cancer than other parts in the country.  
Researchers found these people at the mountain have high levels of serum antioxidants, alpha tocopherol, albumin and
selenium. [3] Dr Donaldson MS, Dorai T and Dr Aggarwal BB, leaders in cancer research, suggest that regular
consumption of certain fruits and vegetables is a good cancer prevention method, as it can reduce the risk of acquiring
specific cancers. Phytochemicals derived from such fruits and vegetables are chemopreventive agents . [4, 5] Dr.
Donaldson MS., even points out  that 30-40 percent of all cancers can actually be prevented by lifestyle and dietary
measures alone in his review article [4] Thus, healthy diets and lifestyle is one of the cancer prevention methods.

In addition to fruits and vegetable, fish, soy, milk, and tea, can also be added into our cancer prevention diet. A rescent
study suggests that high intake of fish is associated with lower risk of adenoma recurrence. [6]   A correlation of "mother
eating fish" and "lower risk of daughter in breast cancer" is noticed. Mothers eat fish or other foods rich in omega-3 fatty
acids during pregnancy and nursing, the risk of breast cancer in their daughters can be reduced by about 40%, a study
of mice found. [7] Soy glucosylceramide (soy GlcCer) is found to reduce the formation and growth of tumor cells in the
gastrointestinal tracts of mice. [8] Soy may also protect against endometrial cancer by comparing the soy intake of 832
women with endometrial cancer with that of 846 unaffected women. [9] A reasonable amount of calcium and milk
consumption reduces colorectal cancer risk. However, high intake of calcium may increase the risk of fatal prostate
cancer. [10] Some tea leaves also contain compounds called Tea Polyphenols. Tea polyphenols are natural plant
antioxidants, which prevent damage caused by free radicals to DNA and other molecules. [11]

Further, a few OTC products may help to fight against cancer.  In a study, women who used aspirin or other non-
steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs at least once a week for six months or longer had a 20% lower risk of breast cancer.
[A Report from Reuters, May 25, 2004] While, a small daily doses of ibuprofen made mice with cancer less likely to die
of colon cancer.[Maggie Fox, Reuters, May 19, 2004] It was found that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
approximately halved the cancer (i.e. oral malignancies) risk in smokers.  [Daily Aspirin, Ibuprofen Cut Smokers' Oral
Cancer Risk, HealthDay News, April 18 2005.] Sulindac was found to be a highly effective chemoprevention agent
because it worked to induce expression of the p21 gene in a study of mouse. [NSAID drug protects against intestinal
tumors in mice, despite poor diet and gene losses, innovations report, April 19, 2005.] It is not sure if taking OTC
products is a good cancer prevention method, one must discuss with their medical doctors before taking any medicine.

Most information (except Cancer Prevention Method 4) are adopted from National Cancer Institute's website.

[1] ACS Report: Cancer prevention and early detection facts and figures 2005, CPED2005v5PWSSecured, [2] Visioli F
et al, The role of antioxidants in the Mediterranean diets: focus on cancer. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2004 Aug; 13(4):337-43.
[3]  Luoma P. Antioxidants, infections ande environmental factors in health and disease in Northern Finland. Int. J
Circumpolar Health. 1998 Jul;57(2-3):109-13. [4] Nutrition and cancer: A review of the evidence for an anticancer diet.
Nutr J. 2004 Oct 20;3(1):19. [5] Cancer Lett. 2004 Nov 25;215(2):129-40.[6] European Journal of Cancer Prevention 13
(2): 159-164, June 2004 [7] Mom's Diet May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk in Daughters, Health Day, April 20, 2005. [8] A
Report from HealthDay, May 20, 2004 [9] Reuters Health, May 28, 2004. [10] Megan Rauscher, Reuters, July 6, 2004.
[11] Scientists identify green tea's cancer-fighter. Reuters, March 15, 2005 [12] Nutrition Research Newsletter, March
1998, Technical Insights, John Wiley & Sons [13] Sun, Vitamin D Help Lung Cancer Survival - Study, Reuters, Mary 18,
2005. [14] Consume your vitamin E to prevent some cancers, by Aimee M. Male, Oakland Tribune,  July 7, 2004. [14]
Consume your vitamin E to prevent some cancers, by Aimee M. Male, Oakland Tribune,  July 7, 2004. [15] Traditional
Medicine Derivatives Kill Cancer Cells, Reuters Health, April 18, 2005 [16] Pregnancy Hormone May Prevent Breast
Cancer, WebMD, April 20, 2005.

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