Effective Diet Against The Scourge Of Cancer – By Ayo Oyoze Baje


Cancer is perhaps the most dreaded disease globally. Almost ten million people die from cancer every year. In fact, it was the second leading cause of death, after heart disease, in the United States in 2019. As at 2014, it was responsible for the death of over 147,000 people every year up from 100,000 in 2011. Currently,it is the cause of every sixth death in the world and one of the largest health problems in the world.

Narrowing it down to Nigeria, the World Health Organisation,(WHO) claims that as many as 10,000 Nigerians are victims of the debilitating disease and the number of victims are on the rise. For instance, over the past few years, it has killed notable Nigerians such as Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Sunny Okosun, the  Ozzidi King, Yinka Craig, and Yemi Tella who led the Golden Eaglets to global soccer glory in 2007.

The most common types of cancer in Nigeria include those affecting the breast, cervix, colon, liver and the lungs. The challenges victims face include the enormous cost of treatment- with a single dose of drug costing as much as N15,000 as at 2003-in addition to  ignorance about it, lack of early detection, fear of the unknown and social stigma. Yet, only 17 per cent of African countries are really serious in combating the menace of the deadly disease.

Much more needs to be done therefore,  in increasing the tempo on creating awareness on the symptoms to look out for, preventive measures to take, the lifestyles to avoid and the medical attention required, as soon as it is detected.

So important is the issue of cancer that February 4 is set aside by the WHO, an arm of the United Nations to focus on it every year. Though it is characterized by an unusual and unrestrained abnormal growth of cells, if left untreated it is however curable if properly and promptly checked on early detection.

 According to Dr. Charles Myers, MD, Director of Cancer Centre, University of Virginia Medical Centre, in Charlottesville, U.S. only 10 per cent of cancer is hereditary. The remaining 90 per cent is obtained from an unhealthy lifestyle and can therefore, be prevented.

There are two types of cancer:

Sarcoma arises from muscles, bones, tendons, cartilage, blood vessels, lymph, fat and connective tissues. Carcinoma, on the other hand, originates from the surface cells of the skin and intestinal organ.

A change in diet and lifestyle could effectively stave off debilitating effects of cancer. Avoid overweight. Daily exercise helps. Stop smoking. Say no to junk food.

What to eat:

Take cabbage diet as it prevents, cuts the risk of breast, lung, colon and prostate cancer. Brightly coloured fruits such as oranges, grapes, tangerine are abundantly  rich in vitamin C, an anti-oxidant, and also quercetin (red grapes).

Similarly, deep coloured vegetables should be eaten.  For instance, tomatoes contain lycopene and is most effective. Dark green vegetables such as ugu, efo, bitter leaf, spinach contain lutein while carrots are rich in beta-carotene. Anti-oxidants in vegetables quench damaging free-radicals. They assist the body to produce enzymes that neutralizes dangerous carcinogens.

Sea Foods that are rich in zinc and magnesium including crabs, crayfish, prawns and lobster are recommended.

Milk-fortified breakfast cereals are also effective against cancer. Soy-based foods such as soya beans, soy-milk, soy burgers contain estrogen-like plant chemical, phytoestrogen or genistein. Great source of Vitamin D. Phyto-estrogens have receptors against breast cancer. Soy fruits contain most needed amino acids and powerful anti-cancer chemicals. Eat them.

Garlic Ginger, olive oil extract, orange peel extract and onions contain effective anti-cancer fighting chemicals.  So do apples, green tea and grape fruit. Consistent apple eaters have 18 per cent lower risk of suffering from different types of cancer. Recent research in the Netherlands shows that those who ate fruits most had the lowest risk of dying from cancer.

The same chemical that makes one to cry when onion is sliced also stops cancer-causing chemicals.  Presence of phenols also help. These are rich in both fibres and flavonoids that remove cholesterol, carcinogens and toxins.

Beans contain lignans, iso-flavones, protease inhibitors and plenty of fibre that prevent cancerous growth of cells. Recent researches at Ohio State University, U.S. led by Ching-Shih Chen, PHD notes that the human body cannot absorb the high dosages of natural Vitamin E required to prevent cancer. Work is on to provide the pill to achieve that effect.

Garlic for cancer prevention

Daily intake of garlic has been found to lower risk of most types of cancer. This anti-cancer property is due to allyl sulphides found in garlic. PhIP, a type of heterocyclic amine (HCA), has been associated with increased incidence of breast cancer among women. According to studies, diallyl sulphide found in garlic inhibits the transformation of PhIP into carcinogens.

Guava juice from the leaves is effective against the growth of tumours as well as prostate cancer.

To reduce the risk of cancer take tea, because it contains anti-oxidants which neutralize free radicals that cause it.

Orange peel extracts to the rescue:

Content of orange peels:

It has been discovered that orange peel contains favonoids, poly-methoxyflavones, pmf, tangeretin, nobeletin, phenolic compounds, glucosinulates and tarpenes. Minerals such as zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese, cadmium and nickel are present.

In addition, it has concentrated Vitamin C, it is oil rich in d-limonene that is anti-carcinogenic and citral, an aldehyde that works against the absorption of Vitamin A. Apart from reducing sugar level, it possesses saponins,  cardiac glycocides, tannins, fibre, ash, fat and protein.

According to a recent scientific research published in Food and Function entitled, “Potent anti-cancer effects of citrus peel flavonoids in human prostate xeno-graft tumors”, extracts of orange peel given orally and by injection to patients showed 57 per cent inhibition by weight and 78 per cent inhibition by volume of the tumors without any observed toxicity.

The extract has received a patent, that is a stamp of approval from the scientific body that offers confidence on the efficiency and efficacy of inventions and innovations.

 Scientists have also shown that extract from sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) inhibits the growth of human lung cancer by apoptosis(programmed cell death).

Orange peel extract enriched with mono-demethylated PMFs have been developed as value-added nutraceutical products for cancer prevention. They also induce calcium-mediated deaths in human breast cancer cells.

Apart from being protective against cancer of the mouth, stomach, larynx and pharynx,  orange peel has been found to be powerful in the treatment of psychosis, a nervous system disease, as it also ssists in the treatment of neurasthenia, chronic bronchitis treatment, coronary heart disease and reduction of high blood lipid level.

Other diseases it is effective against are hepatitis, cytopenia, senility or loss of memory at old age, immune dysfunction and the treatment or iron deficiency

Considering the immense health benefits inherent in orange peels, private and public institutions should actively engage in transforming them into avenues for wealth and job creation using the expertise of scientists and technologists knowledgeable in such fields.

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