Is there such a thing as ‘anti-cancer foods’?

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THERE are many myths and beliefs surrounding food and cancer; what we should and shouldn’t eat, but what are the truths? The Spanish Group of Cancer Patients (GEPAC) said whilst eating a healthy diet is obviously beneficial for health in general, there is no such thing as an ‘anti-cancer diet.’

At the 11th Congress of Patients with Cancer held in Madrid, GEPAC compiled a document listing over 70 false myths relating to foods that are claimed to have anti-cancer properties.

These include:

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Soybeans. An excellent source of protein, soy contains several phytochemicals, which are chemical compounds naturally occurring in plants. Some of these have a slight estrogenic role in animal studies that seemed to offer protection against tumours that depend on hormones. However, at present there is little information to demonstrate that soy supplements can reduce the risk or have a protective effect against the development of tumours in humans. 

Green tea. Laboratory and animal studies show that green tea is a powerful antioxidant, but there is still more information to be developed. It may be a good option to increase fluid intake when a person is undergoing cancer treatment, but experts point out that you should not drink more than two to three cups a day as some studies have even suggested that high consumption may have some effect on treatments.

Red fruits. Whilst highly beneficial, this does not mean that it can cure or prevent cancer if consumed regularly  as some believe. During treatment it is key to ensure the daily consumption of around three pieces of fresh fruit, and the more varied the better.

Turmeric. There is currently insufficient evidence that its consumption can prevent cancer or have beneficial effects during treatment as clinical trials are still underway. Some studies also suggest that high amounts of turmeric may interfere with some drugs used in chemotherapy treatment. 

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