Cancer: Humans Need Plant Matter

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:

There is still some controversy about which foods cause which cancers and whether certain types of fat are the culprits with certain cancers, but there’s one thing we know for sure; raw vegetables and fresh fruits have powerful anti-cancer agents. Studies have repeatedly shown the correlation between consumption of these foods and a lower incidence of various cancers, including those of the breast, colon, rectum, lung, stomach, prostate, and pancreas.1 This means that your risk of cancer decreases with an increased intake of fruits and vegetables, and the earlier in life you start eating large amounts of these foods, the more protection you get.

Humans are genetically adapted to expect a high intake of natural and unprocessed plant-derived substances. Cancer is a disease of maladaptation. It results primarily from a body’s lacking critical substances found in different types of vegetation, many of which are still undiscovered, that are metabolically necessary for normal protective function. Natural foods unadulterated by man are highly complex—so complex that the exact structure and the majority of compounds they contain are not precisely known. A tomato, for example, contains more than ten thousand different phytochemicals.

It may never be possible to extract the precise symphony of nutrients found in vegetation and place it in a pill. Isolated nutrients extracted from food may never offer the same level of disease-protective effects of whole natural foods, as nature “designed” them. Fruits and vegetables contain a variety of nutrients, which work in subtle synergies, and many of these nutrients cannot be isolated or extracted. Phytochemicals from a variety of plant foods work together to become much more potent at detoxifying carcinogens and protecting against cancer than when taken individually as isolated compounds. 1. Franceschi, S., M. Parpinel, C. La Vecchia, et al. 1998. Role of different types of vegetables and fruit in the prevention of cancer of the colon, rectum and breast. Epidmiology 9 (3): 338-41; Van Den Brandy, P.A. 1999. Nutrition and cancer: causative, protective, and therapeutic aspects. Ned. Tijdschr. Genneskd. 143 (27): 1414-20; Fraser, G.E. 1999. Association between diet and cancer, ischemic heart disease, and all-cause mortality in non-Hispanic white California Seventh-Day Adventists. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. (3S): 532-38S.
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Ron Lugbill - April 27, 2007 2:52 PM

My question is whether we know enough about which fruits and vegetables have the appropriate phytochemicals for which types of cancer? For example, for women with breast cancer or with a higher risk of breast cancer, which fruits or vegetables would be most effective in preventing/treating breast cancer? And, which fruits or vegetables would likely be least effective with breast cancer? Is there any such list out there? Thanks.

Keith - April 27, 2007 7:11 PM

Ron, sorry to say there are no such lists available. You will find such lists available from alternative medicine books and websites, but nothing that resulted from medical studies.

If I had to make a suggestion as to which plants did the most to reduce cancer risks, I would say all of them, in large quantities, and in a great variety.

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