Happy Belly Happy Heart

A blog dedicated to nutrition, wellbeing and happiness. I believe the key to a good life begins with what you choose to put into your body. A happy belly = a happy mind = a happy heart.

Nutrition in the Fight Against Cancer

on March 26, 2013

lady fightingLike most people nowadays, I can count the number of cancer sufferers I know on both hands, in fact probably on both feet. Some of them have won their battle and been given the all-clear, but others have sadly been lost to us. This terrible disease is becoming more and more prevalent and I doubt I could find one person who hasn’t suffered themselves or know someone who has, be it a family member, friend, colleague or acquaintance.

In my family one of my grannies and two of my aunts have had breast cancer and my Dad is currently battling with skin cancer, having been diagnosed just over two years ago. Four operations later, he’s lost one eye, had pieces removed from his cheek and neck and most recently underwent a muscle and skin graft from his chest to replace another section removed from his neck. After 10 hours of surgery he discovered he’d lost the ability to swallow. It turns out this is due to nerve damage, which has also been the cause of him losing most of the feeling down one side of his face and neck since the first operation two years ago.

Not being able to swallow means not being able to eat or drink. Or even to clear the saliva from your mouth. Swallowing is a natural reflex which we rarely think about, like blinking, but if you bring your awareness to the act of swallowing, even for 5 minutes, you realise just how many times a day we normally do it. Now try to imagine not being able to swallow. Difficult isn’t it? Even harder I would say than learning to live with one eye.

Because cancer is naturally on my mind, as well as nutrition, I’ve been thinking about how big a part our diet can play in our ability to prevent and fight diseases like cancer. Even more so now because my Dad is basically living on a diet of protein shakes injected through a tube into his stomach. I can’t help thinking that he’s not getting enough fibre, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients which surely his body needs to help fight the cancer in the first place.

I’ve heard about various miracle, and ordinary, foods in the fight against cancer so I’ve done a little research and thought I’d share my findings with you.

Apple Cider Vinegarapple with vinegar bottle

In this article from 2009 an American doctor reports that a few laboratory studies have found apple cider vinegar may be able to kill cancer cells or slow their growth but that the results are not very clear. This article refers to the same research but the studies have only been carried out on rats and the results themselves are not easy to find.
Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can help with the blood sugar spikes associates with Type 2 diabetes, and many people swear by it for reducing acid reflux and indigestion. Nat Sisco, a health food store owner in Lisbon suggests that it could also aid in fighting cancer, as it breaks down food to alkaline mineral and reduces acid.“It makes your body more alkaline, which cancer does not like,” Sisco said.
Regardless of whether it has been scientifically proven, there are many personal stories to be found of people who believe apple cider vinegar has cured cases of cancer:
The Asian jackfruit is purported to have cancer-fighting properties due to the levels of isoflavones, antioxidants and phytonutrients it contains. It reportedly has many health benefits, including helping to eliminate cancer-causing free radicals from the body.
However, there still doesn’t appear to be enough scientific evidence to back this up. An article in the Jakarta Post in 2009 reports how Nina Artanti, a researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), conducted several studies on the potential of Indonesia’s mistletoe to cure cancer. She focussed on mistletoe species growing on star fruit and jackfruit trees and concluded that mistletoe does appear to cure cancer in several ways – by killing cancer cells, stimulating the immune system and helping to reduce the size of the tumour. However, the results are not enough on their own and further research is needed.


B17 is not actually a vitamin. It’s another name for Laetrile, a partly man made form of the natural substance amygdalin. Amygdalin is a plant substance found naturally in raw nuts and the pips of many fruits, particularly apricot pips, or kernels. It is also present in plants such as lima beans, clover and sorghum.

There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the use of B17 as a cancer cure and Cancer Research UK is adamant about the lack of scientific evidence available, advising against using it as an alternative to conventional cancer treatments and highlighting its potentially serious side effects.

On the other side of the argument there’s an entire website dedicated to the use of this substance in the fight against cancer and, although the authors include a disclaimer against its promotion as a cancer cure, they also make some hefty claims, refer to a plethora of research and the site generally makes for some very interesting reading. According to the authors, the systematised study of B17 dates back to 1802 and about 18 years ago some of the world’s top scientists claimed that its components make it 100% impossible to develop cancer and will kill existing cancer cells. However, this claim was immediately pounced on by pharmaceutical companies and, it would appear, never made it much further in terms of conclusive clinical trials.

According to Dr. Ernest T. Krebs, Jr., the components of B17 make it vital for our survival without cancer. So, as long as the guidelines for avoiding excessive consumption are followed, maybe metabolic therapy (the cancer therapy based on the use of B17 plus other elements) is worth a try.

basket of cruciferous vegetablesA quick search online will uncover many other claims of cancer-fighting foods and most people I speak to have at least one other suggestion for supposed miracle cures. For example, it has been proven that cabbage boasts cancer-fighting properties, as do other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale. I’ve also heard that lemon zest can prevent skin cancer.

As with any alternative remedies, there can always be side effects of consuming too much of one substance. The risks should always be researched and weighed up and medical advice should always be sought, particularly if other medication is also being taken. Personally, I believe there’s room for both traditional medicine and alternative remedies and I hope the research continues to provide conclusive evidence in order that we may be better educated about how the food we eat affects our ability to fight disease.

I’d love to hear from anyone with first-hand experiences of how nutrition has helped in the fight against cancer. Please feel free to leave a comment below.


4 responses to “Nutrition in the Fight Against Cancer

  1. Isn’t it amazing to think of the correlation between food and health? I am working on a blog post about sugar effects on health. Keep up the good work 🙂

  2. It certainly is Tiff and one that I think a lot of people overlook. We tend to think the food we eat, the condition of our body and the way we feel are all separate entities but they’re intrinsically linked. I look forward to reading your post about sugar. You keep up the good work too!

  3. Carroll says:

    Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after browsing through many of the articles I realized it’s new to me.
    Regardless, I’m definitely happy I stumbled upon it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!

  4. Hi Carroll. Glad you stumbled across my site and like what you see. Feel free to sign up for email notifications, I tend to post once a week. Thanks.

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