Mexico City, Sep 28 (EFE).- Unhealthy eating habits, either because of overeating or a lack of nutritious foods, are intimately related to higher risks of cancer, physician Vanessa Fuchs told EFE on Friday.
“The key could be in the food we eat and in its antioxidant properties, especially regarding polyphenols,” the head of clinical nutrition of Mexico’s General Hospital said.
According to the specialist, a healthy diet is one of the most crucial means to defend oneself against many types of cancer.
“It has been scientifically proven that foods with high polyphenol content have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which lead to less neurodegeneration, slower ageing, anti-carcinogenesis, among other benefits,” she said.
According to Fuchs, this explains why a diet that is poor in polyphenol content is related to a higher risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer, “though this can be true for pancreatic, ovarian, skin, prostate, intestine and esophagus cancer as well.”
Green and black tea, curcumin, pomegranate, and broccoli are among some of the foods with the highest polyphenol content, the physician said.
“Green tea, for example, inhibits the spread of breast and prostate cancer cells, while curcumin and pomegranate slow the growth of prostate cancer cells,” she said.
As for broccoli, the specialist said that it is rich in isothiocyanate and sulforaphane, which inhibit the growth and promote the apoptosis of cancer cells.
Fuchs said that people should be aware that factors such as exposure to light, the state of conservation and food preparation methods can affect the polyphenol content of foods.
“For example, people are used to peeling certain fruits and vegetables, yet it is often the skin that has the highest polyphenol content,” she said.
In addition, cooking certain foods can lower their polyphenol content up to 75 percent, “since many polyphenols are hydrosoluble and remain in the water,” the physician added.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is the second cause of death in the world.
In 2015 alone, 8.8 million deaths in the world were caused by cancer.
Close to a third of cancer deaths were attributed to five main factors: high body mass index, low consumption of fruits and vegetables, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and alcohol consumption.