When it comes to cancer, sometimes what you eat can help change the course of the disease. Recent research shows certain fruits and vegetables have real cancer fighting power, Dr. Bruce Hensel reported.
Michael Vanairsdale is fighting prostate cancer by following his doctor's advice about eating his fruits and vegetables. It seems to be working. He's showing decreased PSA levels- which indicate the cancer is slowing.
"This has given me a great deal more optimism," Vanairsdale said.
Michael's oncologist, Dr. Omer Kucuk, is optimistic, too. He conducted studies to validate his belief that more produce is very productive for people with cancer.
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"There are literally hundreds of these cancer preventive compounds in vegetables and fruits. So, the more vegetables and fruits in the diet, the better," Kucuk said.
"In tomatoes there's lycopene which is a carotinoid. Also, uh, in watermelon and guava we have lycopene. Lycopene is a very good cancer preventive compound."
And the compounds help beyond the prostate.
"All cancers across the board are reduced. In addition to that, lycopene has an effect on blood cholesterol level; it lowers cholesterol as well as blood pressure. So it can also prevent heart disease," Kucuk said.
Another recent finding… fruits and vegetables don't just help with disease prevention… they also help once you are diagnosed.
"You can prevent the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, by using lycopene and soy. Not only that, you can also improve the efficacy of chemotherapy and radiation if you use soy together with them," Kucuk said.
Michael hasn't had to go there yet. He and his doctors believe if he continues filling up on fruits and veggies, he may never need to.
These researchers are planning a larger study on the subject, with hopes of further proving the power of fruits and veggies.
More than 1.4 million cases of cancer were expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. last year.
Less than one-fourth of American adults get five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
A single serving of vegetables may contain as many as 100 cancer-fighting chemicals.
Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in the diet may reduce the risk of cancer by about 30 percent.
For more details, refer to our comprehensive research summary.