General: Causes & Prevention       Specific Cancers


Cancer Treatment

I normally don’t offer comments on standard medical treatments; however, I thought it worth noting that, according to HSI e-alert (11/09/05), chemotherapy is only considered highly effective (life prolongation as opposed to short-term tumor shrinkage) against a few cancers only one of which (a form of testicular cancer) is common.  I’m unsure of the reliability of that information.


Cancer Causes

  • DIET  obviously plays a role in cause and prevention.  Since I have no information on a dietary cause of cancers in general, all dietary causes are listed under specific cancers.
  • PESTICIDES  can be carcinogenic as can a variety of chemicals in common use.

Cancer Prevention (general)

  • Antioxidants and phytochemicals are important, but antioxidants protect cancer cells and hence could be bad when cancer is present (SN 4/29/95 p.271; SN 4/21/01 p.248).  A diet high in fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of colon, lung, mouth, stomach and throat cancers (NAH 5/01 p.9).  Lycopene may be particularly useful (Alt. suppl. WAN2). Also glutathione (alt. 3/05 p.161).
  • Chlorine compounds can be carcinogenic.  Chlorinated swimming pools are bad, particularly when heated and when the water is less clean; e.g., heated public pools (SN 4/13/02 p.238).  Chlorine from tap water is absorbed through the skin when bathing.
  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is found in the milk and meat of ruminants.  One form of this fat has strong anticancer properties another reduces the size of fat cells.  Normal meat and dairy fats contain inadequate amounts, but additions such as sunflower oil to cattle diets increase production significantly.  Enhanced butter and other products may appear on the market soon. (SN 12/11/99).
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, rutabaga, turnip, etc.) are excellent ways to prevent cancer; e.g., eat cabbage once per week (Alt. 3/05 p.164).
  • Curcumin (found in the spice turmeric) appears to reduce incidence of some cancers (SN 5/18/02 p.317).
  • Extracts of certain mushrooms are used for prevention and treatment in Japan (Alt. 9/95). 
  • Folic acid is critical in DNA repair, so deficiencies may increase cancer risk (SN 11/6/99 p.293).
  • High levels of insulin, triggered by high levels of blood sugar, cause alterations in body chemistry which favor cancer (Alt. 3/05 p.166).
  • Selenium rich diets offer protection against several cancers.

Specific Cancers

  • BREAST  Isoflavones, lignans, and saponins may help.  Obesity increases post-menopausal risk (SN 11/8/97 p.294).  Fish oil lowers risk (SN 2/15/97 p.101).  Fruits and vegetables apparently do not alter risk (NAH 5/01 p.9 per JAMA 285 (2001) pp.769&799).  Women drinking at least 3 glasses of any milk per day had about half the risk of those drinking none (SN 9/1/01 p.135).
  • CERVICAL  Associated with low beta-carotene levels.
  • COLON  Associated with low folic acid (folate) levels: multivitamin with folic acid reduced risk 50% in women with family history (Harvard study cited in USA Weekend 11/21/03 p.6).  Isoflavones, saponins, and fiber (whole grains, many vegetables) may help.  Selenium helps (SN 1/4/97 p.6).  Lithocholic acid (a bile acid) appears to be a reason high fat diets increase cancer risk and why Vitamin D reduces risk (SN 5/18/02 p.309).
  • LUNG  Isoflavones may help.  Selenium helps (SN 1/4/97 p.6).
  • PROSTATE  Lycopene (a carotenoid in tomatoes) and saponins may help.  Selenium helps (SN 1/4/97 p.6). Isoflavones and lignans help (SN 11/6/99 p.295).
  • RECTAL  Isoflavones may help.
  • SKIN  It is well known that sun exposure increases chance of skin cancer.  Using tanning salons doubles chances (J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 2/02).  Tea is protective. A cream containing A, C & E appears to reduce risk and wrinkles.  Here is a recipe (Alt. 11/05 p.35)
    2 oz. skin cream; 1.5 grams zinc sulfate; 60,000-IU A (as retinyl palmitate) 4,000-IU vitamin E; 14 grams (a rounded tablespoon) C.
    I’ve read that C can cause irritation because of acidity, so perhaps one should substitute an equivalent amount of ester C.
  • STOMACH  Isoflavones may help.