Written by Rachael Link, MS, RD
What you eat can drastically affect many aspects of your health, including your risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
The development of cancer, in particular, has been shown to be heavily influenced by your diet.
Many foods contain beneficial compounds that could help decrease the growth of cancer.
There are also several studies showing that a higher intake of certain foods could be associated with a lower risk of the disease.
This article will delve into the research and look at 13 foods that may lower your risk of cancer.
Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a plant compound found in cruciferous vegetables that may have potent anticancer properties.
One test-tube study showed that sulforaphane reduced the size and number of breast cancer cells by up to 75% (1Trusted Source).
Similarly, an animal study found that treating mice with sulforaphane helped kill off prostate cancer cells and reduced tumor volume by more than 50% (2Trusted Source).
Some studies have also found that a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli may be linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer.
One analysis of 35 studies showed that eating more cruciferous vegetables was associated with a lower risk of colorectal and colon cancer (3Trusted Source).
Including broccoli with a few meals per week may come with some cancer-fighting benefits.
However, keep in mind that the available research hasn’t looked directly at how broccoli may affect cancer in humans.
Instead, it has been limited to test-tube, animal and observational studies that either investigated the effects of cruciferous vegetables, or the effects of a specific compound in broccoli. Thus, more studies are needed.
SummaryBroccoli contains sulforaphane, a
compound that has been shown to cause tumor cell death and reduce tumor size in
test-tube and animal studies. A higher intake of cruciferous vegetables may
also be associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer.
Several studies have found that eating more carrots is linked to a decreased risk of certain types of cancer.
For example, an analysis looked at the results of five studies and concluded that eating carrots may reduce the risk of stomach cancer by up to 26% (4Trusted Source).
Another study found that a higher intake of carrots was associated with 18% lower odds of developing prostate cancer (5Trusted Source).
One study analyzed the diets of 1,266 participants with and without lung cancer. It found that current smokers who did not eat carrots were three times as likely to develop lung cancer, compared to those who ate carrots more than once per week (6Trusted Source).
Try incorporating carrots into your diet as a healthy snack or delicious side dish just a few times per week to increase your intake and potentially reduce your risk of cancer.
Still, remember that these studies show an association between carrot consumption and cancer, but don’t account for other factors that may play a role.
Summary Some studies have found an association
between carrot consumption and a decreased risk of prostate, lung and stomach
One study followed 1,905 people with a history of colorectal tumors, and found that those who consumed more cooked, dried beans tended to have a decreased risk of tumor recurrence (10Trusted Source).
An animal study also found that feeding rats black beans or navy beans and then inducing colon cancer blocked the development of cancer cells by up to 75% (11Trusted Source).
According to these results, eating a few servings of beans each week may increase your fiber intake and help lower the risk of developing cancer.
However, the current research is limited to animal studies and studies that show association but not causation. More studies are needed to examine this in humans, specifically.
Summary Beans are high in fiber, which may be
protective against colorectal cancer. Human and animal studies have found that
a higher intake of beans could reduce the risk of colorectal tumors and colon
Berries are high in anthocyanins, plant pigments that have antioxidant properties and may be associated with a reduced risk of cancer.
In one human study, 25 people with colorectal cancer were treated with bilberry extract for seven days, which was found to reduce the growth of cancer cells by 7% (12Trusted Source).
Another small study gave freeze-dried black raspberries to patients with oral cancer and showed that it decreased levels of certain markers associated with cancer progression (13Trusted Source).