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Six Foods That Can Lower the Risk of Cancer

Here is a look at some of the best foods that lower the risk of cancer, according to several studies.

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Updated:May 28, 2019, 4:07 PM IST
Six Foods That Can Lower the Risk of Cancer
Fresh fruit (avocado, bananas, apricots, citrus fruit, blackcurrants) and dried fruit and nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios, dates, figs) are rich in potassium. (Photo courtesy: AFP Relaxnews/ marilyna/ Istock.com)

Cancer remains to be the second leading cause of death globally with 70% of deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organisation. The global health body also says that 30-50% of cancers can be prevented as around one-third of deaths from cancer occur due to the five leading behavioural and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use.

A study, conducted by researchers at Tuft's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and published in the JNCI Cancer Spectrum medical journal, found that in 2015 over 80,000 new cancer cases in the United States were associated with low whole-grain intake, low dairy intake, high intake of processed meats and red meat, low fruit and vegetable intake, and high intake of sugary beverages.

Here is a look at some of the best foods that lower the risk of cancer, according to several studies:


Apples contain polyphenols: plant-based compounds that may prevent inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and infections. Research suggests that polyphenols also possess anticancer and tumour-fighting properties. A 2018 study in the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis suggested that apple phloretin “inhibits breast cancer cell migration and proliferation.”


Berries are rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibres besides possessing antioxidant. One study suggests that anthocyanin, a compound in blackberries, lowers biomarkers for colon cancer. Another study demonstrates that the anti-inflammatory effects of blueberries can prevent the growth of breast cancer tumours in mice.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, contain sulforaphane, a plant compound with anticancer properties, which according to one study significantly inhibits cancer cell growth and stimulates cell death in colon cancer cells.

Research also suggests that sulforaphane in combination with genistein, a compound in soybeans, can significantly inhibit breast cancer tumour development and size. Sulforaphane also inhibits histone deacetylase, an enzyme with links to cancer development.


Beta-carotene, which gives carrots their distinct orange colour, has links reduces the risk of breast, stomach and prostate cancers, according to several studies.

Fish Oil

A study conducted by scientists at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, suggests that omega-3 fatty acids found fish oil could be around eight times more effective for halting the development of aggressive breast cancer tumours than those from plant-based sources.

Another study found that consumption of fish oil significantly lowers risk for prostate cancer, while yet another suggested people who consumed fish oil supplements at least four times a week were 63 percent less likely to develop colon cancer than those who did not.


Walnuts contain a substance called pedunculagin, which the body metabolizes into urolithins: compounds that bind to estrogen receptors and may play a role in preventing breast cancer.

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