Of all the threats to longevity, cancer remains the most formidable in the UK. Every four minutes someone in the UK dies from cancer, the latest figures show. Cancer’s metastatic nature makes it fiendishly difficult to deal with – cancerous cells divide and often spread to other parts of the body.
Its complex makeup partly explains why a cure remains an elusive prospect, despite the billions that have been poured into research.
A cure may be a long way off but evidence shows that you can greatly reduce your risk of developing cancer in the first place.
Findings have shown a strong association between the foods we eat and the risk of developing cancer.
While you should not rely on a single item to reduce your risk of cancer, research suggests no diet would be complete without certain components.
Several studies have found that eating more carrots is linked to a decreased risk of certain types of cancer, for example.
One notable analysis looked at the results of five studies and concluded that eating carrots may reduce the risk of stomach cancer by up to 26 percent.
Another study found that a higher intake of carrots was associated with 18 percent lower odds of developing prostate cancer.
Furthermore, a study analysed the diets of 1,266 participants with and without lung cancer.
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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.
The anti-cancer effects are attributed to a compound found in carrots called falcarinol.
Research suggests the way you cook carrots can either undermine or enhance your ability to absorb this nutrient.
According to a study conducted by Newcastle University, “boiled before cut” carrots contained 25 percent more of the anti-cancer compound falcarinol than those chopped up first.
Experiments on rats fed falcarinol have shown they develop fewer tumours.
Lead researcher Dr Kirsten Brandt, from Newcastle University’s School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, said: “Chopping up your carrots increases the surface area so more of the nutrients leach out into the water while they are cooked.
“By keeping them whole and chopping them up afterwards you are locking in nutrients and the taste, so the carrot is better for you all round.”
The Newcastle scientist, along with colleagues at the University of Denmark, discovered the health benefits of falcarinol in a previous study.
Rats fed on a diet containing carrots or falcarinol were found to be one-third less likely to develop full-scale tumours than those in the control group.
General dietary tips
As Macmillan explains, eating a balanced diet is good for your overall health and helps reduce your risk of some cancers.
It can also help you to keep to a healthy weight – another protective measure, adds the charity.
It recommends eating plenty of high-fibre foods and limiting red meat intake.
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