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ID 984

Causes, Diet: Prevention

Description:
In addition to enzymes produced by the body, certain components in food can also react with damaging chemicals, and an increased consumption of these foods may lower a person’s risk of cancer development.
Transcript:
Prevention In addition to enzymes produced by the body, certain components in food can also react with damaging chemicals. An increased consumption of these foods may lower a person’s risk of cancer development. Click on the forward arrow or the numbers below to find out more. William Nelson, M.D., Ph.D. is a researcher at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. HIs research focuses on the molecular causes involved in the development of prostate cancer. This has led to the discoveries that inflammation, diet, and gene "silencing" have roles in prostate cancer development. “Leafy green type vegetables have chlorophyll and chlorophyll is a remarkable energy scavenger. And there is some hint that if you consume chlorophyll you can intercept reactive kinds of chemical species, things might damage proteins, DNA, RNA inside the cell. You might intercept them before they get into the cell and cause damage and then protect against cancer involved with those. And that's just the beginning. There are all kinds of things in food. I think fruits and vegetables are very likely to be protective. I think a safe recommendation at this point is the one that American Cancer Society makes which is try and get in five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. But I think as we learn more and more and more about them, we'll begin to understand almost to a therapy kind of degree what we're actually eating.” Walter Willett is the Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. HIs research focuses on how dietary factors may contribute to and cause health-related conditions. He has written a book entitled Eat, Drink and Be Happy, which summarizes some of the results from his research. “For overall cancer reduction by diet, the most important thing is keeping calories in balance with our physical activity, which means staying as lean and active as we can throughout our life. There's quite a bit of evidence that high consumption of red meat is related to several cancers, probably colon cancer and probably prostate cancer as well. So, replacing some of the red meat with poultry, some legumes, beans, and fish, and nuts is a good thing to do. We know that's very helpful from the standpoint of cardiovascular disease and probably useful from a standpoint of cancer prevention as well. Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables has been widely advocated as a means of reducing cancer risk and there possibly is some benefit from that. But it's I think pretty clear that it's not nearly as powerfully cancer preventive as we had hoped a few years ago. And it may turn out that it's much more specific than cancer overall. For example, we have seen that men who consume more tomato products high in a substance called lycopene have a lower risk of prostate cancer, but when we look at fruits and vegetables overall, we don't see much relationship with prostate cancer risks. So, this may have to come down to specific components of fruits and vegetables and specific cancers.” “We can't be 100% sure if the lycopene from a supplement is really going to be the same as eating tomatoes, which are high in lycopene. First of all, what we see in our studies is that people who eat more tomatoes and tomato products have had a lower risk of prostate cancer. And it's a hypothesis that lycopene is the active agent but it's actually possible that it's something else in tomatoes or the combination of several factors in tomatoes that's related to lower risk of prostate cancer. And it will really require a separate study giving supplements of lycopene for many years to see if that specifically was the active factor that was related to lower risk of prostate cancer and that study hasn't been done yet.”
Keywords:
harvard school of public health, american cancer society, walter willett, dna rna, comprehensive cancer center, forward arrow, fruits and vegetables, cancer development, remarkable energy, school of public health, chemical species, dietary factors, prostate cancer, inflammation diet, physical activity
Creative Commons License This work by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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