No single food or food substances can protect you against cancer.
But scientists believe that the right combination of foods in
a predominantly plant-based diet may. Evidence is mounting that
the minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals in plant foods interact
to provide extra cancer protection. This concept is called synergy.
In addition, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans are
low-energy-dense, low calorie foods and probably protect against
weight gain. According to the Second Expert Report, experts
believe that weight gain – particularly obesity and overweight
– are implicated in the development of cancer. Eating a predominantly
plant based diet can help prevent weight gain and therefore
protect against those cancers whose risk is convincingly increased
by higher body fat (namely cancers of the colorectum, esophagus,
endometrium, pancreas, kidney, and breast in postmenopausal
women). That is why AICR recommends that at least 2/3 of your
plate should be filled with vegetables, fruit, whole grains
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, mustard greens, collard
greens, chicory and Swiss chard are excellent sources of fiber,
folate and a wide range of carotenoids such
as lutein and zeaxanthin, along with saponins and flavonoids.
According to AICR's second expert report, Food, Nutrition, Physical
Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective,
foods containing carotenoids probably protect against cancers of the
mouth, pharynx and larynx.
Researchers believe that carotenoids seem to prevent cancer by acting
as antioxidants – that is, scouring potentially dangerous “free
radicals” from the body before they can do harm. Some laboratory
research has found that the carotenoids in dark green leafy vegetables
can inhibit the growth of certain types of breast cancer cells, skin
cancer cells, lung cancer and stomach cancer.
The Second Expert Report also noted probable evidence that foods
containing folate decrease risk of pancreatic cancer and that foods
containing dietary fiber probably reduce one’s chances of developing
AICR has funded research on the following toics relating to dark
green leafy vegetables and the cancer-fighting components they
contain. Click each topic to search for relevant AICR-funded research
studies performed to date.
the full list of AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention.