The Hallmarks of Cancer and How Food Can Have a Positive Impact

For anyone who has been diagnosed or looking for prevention, the foray into understanding cancer and understanding what your oncologist AND the infamous Dr. Google is telling you can be a daunting endeavour.

There is a lot of new research, better understanding, and greater help for those diagnosed. And yet, it’s still a scary place to land. Most of my patients feel better when they can be active participants in the process of healing. Getting a better understanding of the process of cancer and some simple, food-based things you can do, is a great place to start.

Cancer is a complex disease with many theories and I am sure one could spend a lifetime going down the rabbit hole. I like the concept of the hallmarks of cancer. What does this mean?

Hallmarks of Cancer is not a new concept, but it is a good place to start when thinking about the process of cancer in the body. The hallmarks are areas in cellular physiology that can lead to cancer cell growth.

 

 

https://www.cell.com/fulltext/S0092-8674(11)00127-9

This fancy chart shows ways in which a cancerous cell tries to thrive in the body. From creating a new blood supply to itself to pushing cellular replication, and avoiding cell death by turning off “cell suicide” signals within itself.

How does knowing this help in the process of healing or prevention? There are many food-based therapies that contribute to halting the hallmarks of cancer. Think of food as your medicine. It’s something you can do and diet is something you have the power to control.

And how much does your lifestyle play a role? Is it worth it? Short answer, YES! Only 5-10% of cancers are due to hereditary mutations. 90-95% of cancers are driven by environmental factors mostly determined by lifestyle (2)

Diet is a major factor affecting cancer cell growth: The following foods have been shown to slow growth of cancer and affect the various hallmarks of cancer.

    • Flavonoids present in foods such as parsley, celery, and chamomile tea
    • Antioxidants found in berries help suppress tumour cells
    • Turmeric (great spice to cook with!)
    • Omega 3 found in good quality fish like salmon
    • Prebiotics (foods that feed the good bacteria in the gut): this is your fiber rich foods and complex carbohydrates such as sweet potato, cassava, flax seeds, chia, etc.
    • Isothiocyanates (sulphoraphane) from cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage help activate the body’s ability to suppress tumour cells.

This is a small list, there are more of course, and this is a good place to start. You can certainly add berries to your breakfast smoothie or oatmeal bowl. You can create delicious curries and add a tsp of turmeric for extra flavour. Incorporate healthy fatty fish into your diet. Ensure fiber via flax or chia to feed your good gut bacteria. And don’t forget your broccoli!

Small changes can have big impact.
If you want to know more feel free to book in with me via: https://somersethealth.janeapp.com/

References
1. https://www.cell.com/fulltext/S0092-8674(11)00127-9
2. Impact of diet and nutrition on Cancer Hallmarks
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6301051/

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