Colo-rectal Cancer is the second-most diagnosed cancer in women and the third-most in men. A cheery outlook for a 5-year survival rate comes out between 54-65%. It has some easy markers you’ll notice – including blood in your stool. Screenings are simple, and everyone should be getting them; the earlier you catch cancer, the better your odds of beating it.
How Do You Go About Prevention?
First, you can’t totally eliminate your chances of getting cancer, but there are ways to try and prevent it, which are mainly lifestyle and diet changes. So get out, go exercise, eat your
apple fiber and get screened.
For Diet, Stock Up on Berries
Yep. Berries. The dark ones, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, acai berries, strawberries, raspberries… pretty much anything you can stuff into the berry category gets a pass.
Berries are packed with a bunch of good things: antioxidants, tannins, and phytochemicals. Now there are a lot of science-y words in there, so let me break that down for you.
This is probably the one you actually know about. Antioxidants cause apoptosis (a-pop-toe-sis). Apoptosis is cell death. It’s something your body does naturally to get rid of cancerous, malformed, or dying cells so you can make new ones.
Apoptosis specifically targets bad cells – unfortunately, chemo and radiation can’t tell the difference. So apoptosis is a non-harmful way to eliminate more cancer cells.
The anti-carcinogenic (Carcinogens are cancer causing chemicals) and antimutagenic (preventing cells from mutating from normal to cancerous) potentials of tannins may be related to their antioxidative property, which is important in protecting cells from oxidative sources.
The generation of superoxide radicals (biologically quite toxic and is deployed by the immune system to kill invading microorganisms, but sometimes cause damages to cells) was reported to be inhibited by tannins and related compounds. The antimicrobial activities of tannins are well documented. Tannins inhibited the growth of many fungi, yeasts, bacteria, and viruses.
Phytochemicals, specifically Anthocyanins
Anthocyanins are what give most dark berries their color (and create the color displays we see in fall trees), astringent taste and act as antioxidants. Some studies show that anthocyanins can neutralize hydrogen peroxide produced in other organelles.
But Which Berries Are Best?
So the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California studied extracts of six popular berries:
- Black raspberry
- Red raspberry
- Strawberry for their ability to stimulate apoptosis of the COX-2 colon cancer cell line.
They came out with a top three…
1. Black Raspberries
Not to be confused with blackberries (an easy way to tell is the size or, if you’re still not sure, to check the center: if they’re hollow – they’re raspberries, if they have a white core – they’re blackberries).
Black raspberries are extremely high in anthocyanins. Black raspberries also contain chemo preventive compounds, including vitamins A, C, E, folic acid, ellagic acid, and quercetin that can help prevent strokes.
Delicious, everywhere and just the prettiest summer plant ever. Strawberries have shown to reduce the chances of heart attacks in women, and reduce cancerous lesions in cases of developing esophageal cancer.
You can also eat freeze-dried strawberries because freeze-drying actually preserves and intensifies the benefits. As a bonus: the ellagic acid in strawberries deactivates specific carcinogens and decreases the replication of cancer cells.
Check out this article on how to grow your own strawberries right at home!
3. Indian Blackberries (Jamun Berry)
These might be a little harder to find in your local grocery store, but the benefits are totally worth it. Used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat digestive disorders and to control diabetes, Jamun Berries exhibited pro-apoptotic effects against breast cancer cells but not towards normal breast cells.
This study reveals the potential benefits of Jamun berry extract against breast cancer. They are also a good source of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin C
The Things To Avoid
It’s okay to keep it in your diet, but cut consumption to once or twice a month. Try to avoid meat that isn’t organic (antibiotic free) and grass-fed (GMO consumption). Science hasn’t eliminated the link between GMOs and cancer, but more importantly, several government agencies have advocated for eliminating antibiotics from meat entirely – so that’s advice you really want to follow.
Cook your red meat at a lower temperature for a longer time to avoid carcinogens that build up when the meat is exposed to flame.
Yeah, this one is a gimme, but stop bringing harmful stuff into your home. It’s bad for you, for your kids, for your pets. Please, please, stop smoking.
Quit Taking Your Vitamin Needs Lightly
Most importantly B6 and folate (kale and spinach, people.)
Too Much Alcohol
Not everyone needs to quit drinking altogether, depending on their own health needs. For those who enjoy a small glass of red wine, they can benefit from resveratrol – an excellent antioxidant that red wines are rich in.
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