Foods against cancer

célula cancerígena

Cancer, a disease that knows no boundaries, which affects people of all ages and conditions, is one of the main causes of morbidity and mortality throughout the world, and is currently the second leading cause of death in developed countries, surpassed only by cardiovascular diseases.

It is estimated that in 2015 in Spain more than 200,000 people have been diagnosed with cancer, with more men than women affected. Although the mortality rate due to cancer has been reduced by 13% in the last few decades in Spain, it is predicted that cancer cases will increase by 70% in the coming decades.

Diet, lifestyle and physical exercise are factors that affect the development of cancer. Among the most beneficial foods against cancer are extra virgin olive oil, the star product of Spain.

How does cancer develop?

Cancer is a disease that consists of uncontrolled mass growth, invading and destroying other tissues and organs of the organism. Cancer is not a single disease, but is considered a group of different diseases, because there are more than 200 different cell types in our body that can become a malignant tumor.

The development and genesis of cancer are due to certain genetic alterations of a cell, which allow its uncontrolled proliferation. In addition, once a cell becomes cancerous, all of its daughters are cancerous.

This process can be divided into three phases:

The normal cell undergoes an alteration of its capacity of proliferation, due to a mutation of one of its genes, process denominated transformation. This cell grows at a higher speed than normal cells.

2º: Uncontrolled growth of cells, giving rise to a tumour. The growth of a group of cells in a place where they are normally found is called a benign tumour, but if these cells are capable of invading and colonising other tissues or organs through the blood or lymphatic stream, it is known as a malignant tumour.

Cancer cells without the proximity of blood vessels, can not colonize other tissues or organs, so they die by deficiency of nutrients and oxygen, and their inability to eliminate waste substances.

If these cells acquire invasive capacity, colonising and proliferating in other tissues or organs, it gives rise to the process known as metastasis. Metastasis is the leading cause of death from cancer.

The causes of cancer are due to approximately 80%, by the action of external agents, non-genetic, which act on the body, therefore, are modifiable. These external causes are: consumption of tobacco and alcohol, incorrect diet, little physical exercise, exposure to environmental carcinogens or infectious agents.

The other 20 % due to spontaneous mutations of genes, by the action of an external factor that is not known exactly.

Photo 1: Food to prevent cancer

The best foods against cancer

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) recommend the following guidelines:

  • Eat an adequate and healthy diet and, therefore, control body weight (not being overweight or obese), avoid excessive consumption of alcohol, eating salty foods, saturated fats, trans fats and sugars, giving priority to unsaturated and monounsaturated, such as extra virgin olive oil. In addition, it is recommended to increase the intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals and nuts. In short, follow a Mediterranean diet.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle: exercise and avoid a sedentary lifestyle.

Olive oil and cancer

According to numerous studies and publications, countries that maintain a Mediterranean diet. Like Spain, Greece and Italy, the incidence of cancer disease is lower than in other countries that follow other diets and extra virgin olive oil plays a fundamental role.

Extra virgin olive oil, due to its high composition of monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid) as we have explained in previous articles, about oxidative stress and its high content of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant compounds, such as: polyphenols, squalene, oleocantal, lignans, flavonoids, tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol, etc.., has an antitumour action, avoiding oxidative damage to biological macromolecules such as DNA, lipids, carbohydrates and proteins.

To this we add the latest research on the oleocantal, a compound of extra virgin olive oil, which we have indicated above, which is capable of breaking cancer cells and killing them, without damaging healthy ones.

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