Useful strategies to prevent cancer

Today we wanted to invite a great professional and human being who is a medical oncologist focused on integrative medicine, who in addition to providing clinical consultation and oncology, offers strategies for cancer prevention, counseling from integrative oncology, and nutritional recommendations for cancer patients.

The main objectives in the art of medicine are: prevention and health promotion, early diagnosis, adequate treatment and effective rehabilitation.

The aspect that has unfortunately lost the most importance in the current medical approach is prevention and health promotion. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), prevention is defined as “measures designed not only to prevent the onset of disease, such as reducing risk factors, but also to halt its progression and mitigate its consequences once it has become established“.  

If we refer to cancer, prevention should be a fundamental aspect of any intervention by health systems worldwide. It is already known that more than 40% of all major types of cancer can be preventable with 8 interventions: adequate nutrition, constant physical activity, avoidance of obesity, complete vaccination schedule, no smoking, no consumption of liquor, adequate use of sunscreen and annual assessment by the physician.

Let’s review today the first strategy:

  • Having an adequate diet. We should go back to that quote from the Hippocratic texts: “let the medicine be the food, and food be the medicine“. Nowadays, one of the main causes of cancer is poor nutrition; we get used to eat but not to nourish ourselves properly. The American Institute for Cancer Research states that no single food alone can protect or prevent against cancer, but different research has shown that a diet with a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, among others, help reduce the risk of many cancers. 

How important it would be for the person who carries out the market in each home to know how to read the labels on the products, determine their fat, sugar, protein and carbohydrate content. We should not only take as a reference to buy a product the cost, but also the health benefits it can bring to the family. Let’s remember that if we read books for culture, why don’t we read the labels of what we are going to consume for our health?

How important it would be that whoever prepares the lunch box for the children of the family has basic knowledge in nutrition or healthy eating so that the products they are going to consume at school are not only delicious but also nutritious. A healthy snack could be apple slices with peanut butter, which provides adequate fiber and antioxidants. Cancer prevention starts from the first years of life. 

How important it would be to take care of our intestinal flora, the intestinal microbiota that consists of a large number of bacteria located in our intestine, currently considered as our second brain and which fulfills very important functions for our health, one of the main ones being the prevention of different types of cancer. We must avoid the indiscriminate consumption of antibiotics, steroids, antacids or animal proteins that negatively affect the bacteria with protective functions in our gastrointestinal system.    

It would be impossible to review all the foods that have proven to have properties against different types of cancer, but we can mention some of the main ones that should not be missing in the kitchens of families with healthy habits.

  • Red apples: they contain fiber, polyphenols and are protective of the intestinal flora. They have been attributed with protective functions against colon cancer. They can be an ideal snack for children.  
  • Asparagus: high content of flavonoids, inulin, saponins and folates that serve as prebiotics (protect the intestinal flora) and antioxidants. They are attributed with protective functions against bladder cancer. They can be consumed raw or steamed without losing their properties. 
  • Broccoli: contains glucosinolates, flavonols and carotenoids that play a role as antioxidants and immunostimulants. It is attributed with protective functions against breast cancer. Its daily consumption in salads is a healthy recommendation.  
  • Coffee: substance with high content of melanoidin and phenolic acids that are potent antioxidants. It is attributed with protective functions against liver cancer. It can be consumed from 3 to 4 cups a day (do not consume instant coffee because it loses many of its anti-inflammatory properties).
  • Nuts: in general, most nuts contain large amounts of phytosterols and polyphenols with anti-inflammatory properties. They are attributed with protective functions against prostate cancer. Combining them with blueberries is a strategy against tiredness or fatigue generated by our daily routine.  
  • Olive oil: its polyphenol content, but mainly oleocanthal, makes it a potent anti-inflammatory. It is attributed with protective functions against breast and prostate cancer. Consume 10 centimeters of extra virgin olive oil a day mixed with salads or pasta.

In conclusion, the best strategy that can be recommended against cancer:

“Prevention is better than cure”.

Blog written by Andrés Yepes, MD.

We invite you to visit him and learn more about him. Instagram: @tuvidaintegrativa. Office: Calle 7 # 39 -107 Cons 1413 Torre Medical – Medellín, Colombia.