Nutrition and Cancer
by Claire Vock
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
While sharing the family´s story, the book is very in depth when it comes to the scientific side of the story. We follow the cells from the lab where they were cultured and grown, to all their scientific accomplishments, to when the contaminated millions of dollars worth of other cells. Alternating between both sides of the story really made the all the information flow.
When Rebecca decided to write a book about Henrietta, she did not know how the family would react or how difficult they would be, but in the end an eye-opening story was formed. Society would never view her cells the same.
How Cells Become Cancerous
The Difference Between Healthy and Cancerous Cells
- Healthy cells have DNA that functions normally
- Cancer cells have an abnormal amount of chromosomes
- Healthy cells divide in an orderly fashion
- Cancer cells divide uncontrollably
- Healthy cells follow chemical signals
- Cancer cells ignore chemical signals
- Healthy cells need to be attached to their surroundings
- Cancer cells can become detached and roam throughout the body
- Healthy cells go through apoptosis when it is time for them to die. They do this by detaching themselves from their surroundings
- Cancer cells do not go through apoptosis, nor do they die at all, unless killed.
- Healthy cells have a normal shape, and all of them are a similar size
- Cancer cells have an abnormal shape, and can be any size.
- Healthy cells, or at least normal cells, are killed by the immune system when they become unhealthy, or are replicated wrong.
- Cancer cells hide from the immune system.
Nutritional Choices and Cancer
Organic food: Organic foods are better than those that are not because they are not grown with the same chemicals and pesticides that are known to link with cancer.
Garlic: Garlic has sulfur compounds that stop cancer causing substances to form, repair DNA, kill cancer cells, and battle the H. pylori bacteria that causes stomach cancer. Other foods with these battle skills are onions, leeks, and chives.
Broccoli: Broccoli contains a phytochemical called glucosinolate. Phytochemicals are biologically active compounds found in plants. All the different types have different functions, but glucosinolate activates enzymes called sulforaphane that detoxify harmful substances and also fight H. pylori. This typically prevents cancers of the mouth, esophagus, and stomach. Other foods with this phytochemical are cabbage, kale, and cauliflower, but broccoli has been said to be the most powerful.
Strawberries: Strawberries are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are found in vitamin C and E and they activate enzymes that destroy cancer causing substances and slow tumor growth. Strawberries also contain flavonoids, a phytochemical that suppresses enzymes that damage DNA and prevents inflammation. Flavonoids are mostly known to prevent lung and breast cancer. Other foods high in antioxidants and flavonoids are blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
Carrots: Carrots contain a variety of different cancer preventers. They have certain antioxidants, beta carotene and others, that protect against toxin damage, slow the growth of cancer cells, and fight cervical cancer. Carrots also contain phytochemicals and vitamins that fight against cancers of the mouth, esophagus, and stomach. Carrots also have a natural pesticide called falcarinol that prevent tumors from developing. When carrots are cooked more of these various helpers are received.
Spinach: Spinach is high in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants remove unstable molecules from the body, and prevent cancer of the mouth, esophagus and stomach. They also may prevent ovarian, endometrial, lung and colorectal cancers too, but the evidence behind that isn't as solid. Besides antioxidants, spinach also has a lot of folate and fiber, which helps produce new cells and protect new cells. Other food like kale, collard greens, chard, and romaine lettuce have the same effect.
Whole Grain: Whole grains are healthy in general, but when it comes to preventing cancer it does have some perks. There is a lot of different things in whole grains that are being looked at for their cancer fighting attributes such as fiber, flavonoids, and saponins. Foods that whole grain is present in is brown rice, whole-wheat bread, corn, and more.
High Fiber Foods: Fiber helps prevent bowel cancer because it increases bowel movement, causing various harmful chemicals to have less time and contact in the body. It also helps certain bacteria that make helpful chemicals.
So I have listed many foods that help fight against cancer, but there is also a handful of foods that can increase your risk of cancer.
Salt: Salt harms the stomach lining, which causes inflammation. Inflammation is known to increase your risk of cancer. Salt also interferes with H. pylori, which causes ulcer and stomach cancer.
Red/Processed Meat: Red and processed meat contains heme, which is a pigment that irritate cells in the bowel and help the production of harmful bacteria. These meats also have nitrates and nitrites that turn into cancer causing substances once in the body.
Processed Food: Processed food can cause free radical damage, which also comes from chemicals and toxins, and it is a leading cause of cancer
How Antioxidants and Phytochemicals Work
Antioxidants are the defense against free radicals. Free radicals are groups of atoms that have an odd number of electrons, and they are formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. This process of creation is usually caused by chemicals and toxins in the body, as well as processed foods. When free radicals are formed they cause a chain reaction. This damages your DNA and can cause cells to function poorly, and sometimes even die. The DNA damage is what can cause cancer. Antioxidants destroy this damage before it can cause a chain reaction.
Phytochemicals are non-nutritious plant chemicals that contain disease prevention properties. Phytochemicals fight cancer in various different ways. First of all, a handful of phytochemicals can act as antioxidants, which fight cancer as listed above. They can also stimulate enzymes. For example, to prevent breast cancer they can stimulate the enzymes that make estrogen less effective. In addition, phytochemicals can interfere with DNA replication, which is what cause cancer in the first place.
The Average American Diet- in Comparison
Using What I Learned...
Plan of Action
S- Specific: My goal is to learn what food and meals I can eat in order to prevent cancer. In the end I do not want to necessarily eat all cancer fighting foods all the time, but be overall aware of what I am eating and switch certain foods out for better options.
M- Measurable: I will measure this experience by making a set plan for my diet, and taking pictures as proof of what I am eating.
A- Assigned: This goal is assigned to me personal, but my family is slightly involved since I will be planning dinner each night.
R- Realistic: I believe this goal is realistic. I have done a lot of research on this topic, and there is such a variety of different foods to choose from that it shouldn't be too hard to make a meal plan.
T- Time- Based: My time frame for this is 5 days