Nutricines: food from nature that protect us against cancer.

Peter Haima (25 February, 2015).healthy food

Determining how well certain foods are able to  protect us against cancer and other disease  is not an easy  task. One study may indicate a  clear protective effect, while another study suggests no effect at all. Different outcomes are caused by differences in the people participating in the study (age, gender, health), the amount of food and, duration of intake and differences in preparation. Meta analyses summarizing multiple independent studies are therefore used to draw more reliable conclusions.  The authors of below mentioned books have performed these meta analyses and concluded that 80% of a total of 200 independent studies indicate that people eating the most fresh fruit and vegetables, have a 50% lower chance of getting cancer as compared to people eating the least fruit and vegetables.

relation food and cancerPercentage of cancer that can be avoided by good nutrition (World Cancer Research Fund 2007: Food, nutrition and the prevention of cancer, a global perspective.)




A recent UCL study finds new evidence linking fruit and vegetable consumption with lower mortality. The authors concluded that “Eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day reduces your risk of death at any point in time by 42% compared to eating less than one portion. Eating seven or more portions reduces the specific risks of death by cancer and heart disease.

Important information can also be deducted from migration studies, in which a group of people with similar genetic background moves from a continent with low cancer rates to a continent with high cancer rates. A well-known example is the migration of Japanese people to Hawaii. After a number of years the rate of prostate cancer increased 10-fold as compared to the people in Japan. In another study, Chinese women in San Francisco were compared to their family members in Shanghai, China. Breast cancer rates for Chine women in San Francisco were 4 to 5-fold higher than for the women in Shanghai. These data indicate that cancer is mainly the result of nutrition and lifestyle, rather than bad genes.
cancer distribution globallyIn fact, cancer statistics from all over the world demonstrate that cancer is to a large extent a Western disease. Cancer rates in North America and Western Europe are 5-10-fold higher as compared to Asian countries.

Chart shows breast cancer (left) and prostate cancer cases (right) per 100,000 people (database CIRC WHO).

All this powerful evidence points to one clear conclusion: dis-ease like cancer is mainly caused by nutrition and lifestyle.

Moreover, so called blue zones have been identified, demographic and/or geographic areas of the world where people live measurably longer lives.

What we can learn from the people in blue zones:

  1. Family and social engagement – people of all ages are socially active and integrated into their communities
  2. Less/no smoking
  3. Vegetarianism – except for the Sardinian diet, the majority of food consumed is derived from plants.
  4. Nutrition contains fresh ingredients with lots of color, flavor and taste (in other words, a lot of nutricines are consumed)
  5. Constant moderate physical activity – an inseparable part of life
  6. Higher purpose – people believe in a higher purpose, which gives them a sense of direction in life

Health as  wisely described by the World Health Organization, is “not merely the absence of disease, but a state of physical, mental, emotional and social well-being”. Ancient Eastern health sciences (like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine) teach us that health is in fact a balanced integration between our environment, body, mind, and spirit.

Top foods protecting you against cancer (according to Schreiber + Beliveau)


Anticancer properties

How to use it

Green tea

Rich in “catechines”, which reduces the growth of new blood vessels needed for tumour growth. Green tea also provides you with a great amount of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds and activates the liver to detoxify carcinogens.

Boil water, steep the tea (2 tea spoons, 0.07 oz/ 2 gram) for 10 minutes Drink the tea within one hour, 3 cups per day is sufficient. Japanese green tea like Sencha, contains the most  anticancer compounds.

Curcuma (Turmeric) ginger

Curcuma, also called turmeric, is the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory identified today which can play an important role in cancer prevention. It inhibits the growth of new blood vessels needed for tumour growth and stimulates cancer cells to commit suicide (apoptosis). Consumption of curcuma (as an ingredient of curry) is believed to be the main reason why  specific cancers are very rare in India compared to Western civilization.

To be assimilated by the body, curcuma must be dissolved in (olive) oil and mixed with black pepper. Pepper increases the intestinal uptake by 2000-fold.

Cabbages (cauliflower,broccoli, Brussels sprouts,,)

Cruciform vegetables contain powerful anticancer molecules specific for these vegetables only. Research shows that regular consumption reduces the chance of getting several types of cancer.

Avoid boiling, steaming is best to conserve the anticancer molecules. It should also be well-chewed.

Garlic, onion, leeks, chives..

Sulphur compounds of this family protect against damage caused by carcinogens, inhibits cancer cell growth and promotes cancer cell death.

Use fresh garlic, the active molecules are released when garlic clove is crushed and left for 10 minutes before use.

Flaxseed, walnuts (Omega-3s)

Flax seed (or line seed) and walnuts are a rich source of short chain Omega-3s
(alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA needs to be converted by our body into the active long chain Omega-3s, EPA and DHA. Omega-3s are powerful anti-inflammatories and more and more research suggests that the risk of heart disease and several cancers is significantly lower in people who regularly consume Omega-3s.

Omega 3 is unstable, therefore it is best to use whole flax seeds and grind them in a coffee grinder before use. Eat up to 30 grams a day, or as an alternative one can eat fatty fish twice a week, 7 walnuts per day or take omega 3 pills (also available as vegan).

The conversion of ALA into EPA and DHA by our body is an inefficient process, which is inhibited by Omega-6s. Therefore, the consumption of Omega-6s should be limited, by using olive oil instead of sunflower or corn oil.

Tomatoes and tomato sauce

Lycopene in tomatoes leads to longer survival for prostate cancer patients and reduces the risk of getting prostate cancer (in 71% of 51 studies this preventive effect was significant).

Tomatoes must be cooked in (olive) oil to release the anticancer nutrients. Use canned tomato sauce with olive oil and preferably no sugar added or prepare homemade sauce.

(soy milk, tofu, soy beans)

Soy isoflavones inhibit the stimulation of cancer cells by sex hormones (such as oestrogens) and inhibit the growth of new blood vessels needed for tumour growth

There has been controversy on the use of isoflavone supplements by breast cancer patients. Some studies suggest that supplements can make breast cancer tumors resistant to treatment. However, soy in natural food is considered safe.

Soy product can replace meat, soy milk and soy yoghurt can replace dairy products.


(strawberries, raspberries, blue berries..)

Contain molecules that stimulates cancer cells to commit suicide (apoptosis) and inhibit the growth of new blood vessels needed for tumor growth.

Fresh or frozen berries can be added to fruit salads or breakfast cereals.

Dark chocolate

Inhibits cancer cell growth and the growth of new blood vessels needed for tumour growth.

Dark chocolate (more than 70% cocoa), daily consumption 20 g (0.7 oz)


Contains molecules that stimulate the activity of immune cells. For this reason Japanese hospitals combine chemotherapy with mushroom consumption.

Especially shiitake, portobello, oyster mushrooms are rich in anticancer molecules. Can be used fresh or dried in soups, vegetables, etc.

Citrus fruit (oranges, grapefruit, lemons…)

Cancer inhibiting properties, especially in cancers of the intestinal tract.  Also strengthens the anticancer activity of other foods and medicine.

Eat as fruit or in salads.

* Disclaimer: all health information provided is extracted from mentioned references. It should be considered as information only and not as medical advice.

  • World Cancer Research Fund 2007: Food, nutrition and the prevention of cancer, a global perspective
  • Anticancer: A New Way of Life,  by David Servant-Schreiber
  • Foods to Fight Cancer. Richard Béliveau, Denis Gingras
  • Cooking With Foods That Fight Cancer. Richard Béliveau, Denis Gingras.
  • Oyinlola Oyebode, Vanessa Gordon-Dseagu, Alice Walker, Jennifer S Mindell. Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality: analysis of Health Survey for England data. J Epidemiol Community Health doi:10.1136/jech-2013-203500.