Question

Cancer Prevention

What supplements can help prevent cancer?

A Answers (2)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    Most people don’t think cancer prevention can come in a bottle, but supplements are actually the “big guns” of aggressive preventive care. They give your body the building blocks it needs to prevent cancer and, in some cases, may even help heal precancerous cells. But remember that supplements alone won’t do it—you must abide by a healthy lifestyle, including eating wholesome foods and getting regular exercise.
    • IP-6. In animal studies, IP6 (Inositol hexaphosphate) has been shown to help prevent colon, liver, lung and soft tissue cancers. Researchers believe it works by preventing abnormal cell growth. In lab studies, this naturally occurring carbohydrate found in high-fiber foods like grains, beans and seeds even turned cancerous cells back into normal cells. Take 500 milligrams at breakfast and dinnertime. Available for about $15 at vitamin stores.
    • Selenium. This essential mineral is a potent antioxidant and works by boosting our body’s natural defenses and helping to clear out dangerous free radicals. A recent study showed that it might help reduce the risk of colorectal, lung and even prostate cancers by almost 40%. While selenium is found in multivitamins, these usually only contain about 50 to 70 mcg, which is enough for a healthy diet but not enough for cancer prevention, which studies indicate may be necessary. Take 200 mcg a day. Available at drug stores for about $6.
    • Black raspberry. Black raspberries have different micronutrients than red raspberries, which dictate their color and may help prevent esophageal and cervical cancer. These micronutrients are called anthocyanins. Look for all-natural, freeze-dried varieties. Freeze-drying helps preserve the anthocyanins so they don’t degrade as much before you eat them. Each 300 mg capsule is the micronutrient equivalent of eating four cups of fresh berries daily. Take 300 mg per day. Available for about $10 at vitamin stores or online.
    • Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a cancer prevention must-have, since low vitamin D intake is associated with higher risks of cervical, breast and colorectal cancers. Vitamin D is a cancer triple threat that researchers believe may interrupt the growth of abnormal cells, kill off cancer cells and help cut off blood supply to tumors. Take 1,000 IUs daily. If you forget your supplement one morning, spend about 15 minutes in the sun. Available at drugstores for about $5.
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  • AMark O'Rourke, MD, Oncology, answered on behalf of Greenville Health System

    The best, proven food strategy to prevent cancer is five servings of colored fruits and vegetables per day. Different colored fruits and vegetables contain different important cancer-fighting substances called phytochemicals. The reds contain lycopene, the red/purples contain anthrocyanins, the oranges contain carotenoids, the orange/yellows contain beta cryptothanxin, the yellow/greens contain lutein and zeaxanthin, the greens contain indoles and sulforaphanes, and the white/greens contain allicin, quercitin, and flavonoids. Studies of this strategy have shown a reduction in cancer risk.

    It is very interesting that studies of individual phytochemicals taken as supplements have been disappointing. Indeed, studies of supplements such as beta-carotene, vitamin E, and higher doses of vitamin A have shown that the people who took the supplements had a higher risk of cancer and death than those who took placebo.

    It is not obvious why these phytochemicals in the diet are so beneficial, while concentrated supplements containing individual antioxidants are not beneficial at all. The data, however, are clear and definite.  We should get our antioxidants in our diet rather than in concentrated supplements. It is apparently more “natural” and more effective. Let your medicine cabinet be your kitchen!

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