Can Cancer be Prevented? Part 3. Eat Flavonoids

2:23 PM Posted by jo

Most of us grew up hearing that we should eat our vegetables because they are good for us. However, it wasn't until the last decade that we realized how important these are in our fight against cancer.  We don't need to eat the exotic vegetables, everyday vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, and broccoli contain substances that are more powerful in inhibiting cancer than all the radiation, chemotherapy or cancer surgery together.

According to Doctor Colgan, indoles, coumarins, phenols, aromatic isothiocyanates and isoflavones are some of the flavonoids in produce that have been identified to inhibit cancer cell proliferation. The following information is taken from You Can Prevent Cancer by Michael Colgan, PhD 


Indoles can be found in vegetables such as cauliflowers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage. The most known is indole-3-carbinol.

60 women at increased risk for breast cancer were participating in placebo-controlled, double-blind doseranging chemo prevention study. Indole-3-carbinol showed to be a promising preventative agent against cancer. 

It is important to when to use indole-3-carbinol. Animals that were pretreated with indole-3-carbinol prior to being exposed to carcinogen and continued to take it during exposure to carcinogen, were protected from developing cancerous lesions. The study shows how important to maintain these substances in the body.  You see,  the animals who didn't receive indole-3-carbinol prior to exposure to the carcinogen did not show any protective effect.


Isothiocyanates are mostly found in cruciferous vegetables. According to Colgan's book, You Can Prevent Cancer, they can block the cancer process by inhibiting carcinogen activation and by accelerating the inactivation of carcinogens.


Turmeric is the most studied herb with coumarins. A study evaluated the chemopreventative effects of curcumin, the most active coumarin, on radiation- induced tumors in rat mammary glands. One control group was fed a basic diet while the other control group was fed a diet containing 1% curcumin. The control group fed curcumin had 28% reduction in tumors while 84% of the other group developed mammary tumors. Other studies also show that curcumin inhibits chemically-induced carcinogenesis of the skin, colon, and stomach.


Phenols can be found in edible plants. Black and green tea contains one class of phenols.
If you haven't tried green tea yet I suggest that you try it, it is especially effective against cancer according to Dr. Colgan. Consumption of green tea reduced the lymph node metastases among pre-menopausal women diagnosed with stage 1 and stage II breast cancer. The researchers of this study of 472 patients also reported that an increased consumption of green tea also reduced the recurrence of breast cancer.

Green and black tea both reduced the incidence of tumors in rats diagnosed with esophagus tumors. The group that drank both green and black tea before the exposure to the carcinogen had a 70%  reduction of the tumors while the group that was given the tea after the tumor growth had 55% reduction in tumors. As you can see, prevention pays off.

Tea is not just for women, men should drink it to take advantage of its benefits. Research shows that green tea inhibits tumor formation by controlling the ornithine decarboxylase, an enzyme which is high in men with prostate cancer. This enzyme stimulates the growth of normal and tumorigenic prostate cells.

Another class phenols is proanthocyanidins found in pine bark, bilberry leaves, and grape seeds. Not only are they important antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, they also seem to be  promising anti-tumor substances according to recent research.

Colgan's book also covers isoflavones found in soy. I am not confident in promoting soy since I don't want to eat it myself, but I just wanted to mention that evidence show that soy isoflavones may inhibit or reduce certain cancers.

There are plenty of flavonoids found in fruit and vegetables. Citrus fruits contain flavonoids for example. Bottom line is, include plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet. 

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Source: You Can Prevent Cancer, Michael Colgan, PhD 

This post is linked to:
Fight Back Friday, Fat Tuesday
Monday Mania

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