14 Fruits That May Help Prevent Cancer
If you are interested in helping prevent cancer with diet, there are 14 fruits you may want to add to your shopping basket. A few of the fruits will not be available at your corner market, however searching for them and experiencing their delightful nectar will be well worth the adventure and the health benefits.
Which fruits may help prevent cancer?
The American Cancer Society estimates 1,638,910 people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2012, and that 577,190 people will lose their lives to some form of the disease. Since at least one-third of all cancer deaths are associated with poor nutrition, inactivity, and excess weight, one important and powerful step you can take in preventing cancer is to choose healthful foods.
Many fruits are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that have potent antioxidant properties shown to help in the fight against cancer and immune system diseases. Here's a brief look at 14 fruits shown to have some anti-cancer abilities in the laboratory and in animals studies.
Acai berries: These reddish-purple berries have more antioxidant capacity than other berries, such as blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. The antioxidants in acai berries, especially anthocyanins and flavonoids, have anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative (inhibits cell growth) properties that may prove helpful in fighting cancer.
Apples: An apple a day may do more than keep the doctor away. Among the many studies of apples and their health benefits, a 2011 review in Advances in Nutrition stated that "Exposure to apples and apple products has been associated with beneficial effects on risk, markers, and etiology of cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and Alzheimer's disease."
Avocado: The avocado is more than the main ingredient in guacamole: it also is a fruit possessing many cancer-preventing ingredients. According to a recent review in the Journal of Experimental Therapeutics & Oncology, "studies have shown that phytochemicals extracted from the avocado fruit selectively induce cell cycle arrest, inhibit growth, and induce apoptosis [cell suicide] in precancerous and cancer cell lines."
Blueberries: These flavorful fruits are known for their high levels of antioxidants, including flavonoids, and anti-cancer fighting potential. One example is a study in which researchers found that blueberry powder reduced the size of breast tumors in mice by 60 to 75 percent when compared with a control group. Blueberries also reduced the spread of breast cancer and the growth of the tumors.
Citrus: The number of studies showing anti-cancer properties of citrus fruits are too numerous to list, so I'll include one of the latest to be published. Researchers at Texas A&M University examined the cancer-preventive properties of lemons and one of their components, limonoids. They reported that "the citrus limonoids may have potential for the prevention of estrogen-responsive breast cancer."
Dragon fruit: You may have to go to Korea to see the exotic dragon fruit, also known as pitaya. Studies of the high antioxidant content and activity of dragon fruit has shown that extracts of the peel have stronger antiproliferative activity against several cancer cells than the flesh extracts.
Goji berries: Also known as wolfberries, goji berries are native to southeastern Europe and Asia and are high in antioxidant value. The cancer-fighting abilities of goji berries have been demonstrated in several studies, including one using prostate cancer cells. Scientists discovered that constituents of the berries significantly inhibited prostate cancer tumor growth in mice and induced cell death.
Grapes: A recent study from Wayne State University entitled "Potential anticancer properties of grape antioxidants" reported there is growing evidence from human trials showing the "possible anti-cancer effects" of grapes and grape juice. The authors also explained that "grape skin and seed extracts have great potential in cancer prevention."
Kiwi: The cancer-prevention possibilities of kiwi have their roots in Chinese medicine. A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology reported on the power of kiwi extracts and found they showed activity against human oral tumor cells. Subsequent research noted kiwi has activity against both pulmonary and stomach cancer cells.
Mangosteen: The mangosteen may not be a common fruit, but in scientific circles it has raised considerable interest regarding its anti-cancer properties. A recent report in Current Molecular Medicine noted that compounds known as xanthones, found in the mangosteen, have "remarkable potential as an anticancer agent."
Noni: Also known as Morinda citrifolia, noni fruit and its extracts have long been said to have cancer fighting properties. A new review of the research on noni and cancer, appearing in Phytotherapy Research, notes that several studies "suggest a possible unidentified substance in unpasteurized noni fruit juice that may have a small degree of anticancer activity."
Pomegranate: Pomegranates are growing in popularity, and one reason may be their potential as cancer fighters. Various studies suggest pomegranates and their juice may help against prostate, colon, breast, and skin cancers. A new review from the University of Wisconsin notes that pomegranates are rich in antioxidants and that studies regarding their cancer fighting potential "look convincing."
Soursop: This fruit of an evergreen tree native to Mexico, the Caribbean and parts of South America is also known as graviola. Soursop has demonstrated anticancer activity against various types of the disease, including pancreatic and breast cancer cells.
Strawberries: The popular berries contain a variety of phytonutrients shown to have anticancer properties, and numerous studies have examined their effects against different cancer lines. One of the latest studies found evidence that "strawberry fruits possess both cancer preventive and therapeutic values," specifically in leukemia and breast cancer lines.
ALSO READ about berries and brain health
American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures, 2012
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