No, there is no food to cure cancer

A healthy life style It is key to avoid certain types of diseases. A balanced diet, in fact, would help prevent up to 35% of cancer cases. Prevent it, but never cure it. Despite this, there are many who proclaim the virtues of certain foods to fight, stop-even heal-the tumor cells. Turmeric is, according to many of these voices linked to pseudoscience, the "most potent anti-cancer food". Flax seeds, broccoli, red fruits and citrus fruits also have that alleged virtue. Doctors, researchers and nutritionists consulted by this newspaper say that, although it is true that we can take a series of precautions and acquire healthy habits that help to prevent the disease, food – no matter how healthy – is not a treatment.

The myth of the 'anti-cancer foods' resurfaces with some frequency from scientific studies that (misinterpreted) may give rise to think that there are specific products that are better than others to fight against cancer (as is the case of the so-called superfoods). This same Thursday, for example, the magazine 'Science' publishes a new study in which it is proposed to investigate a natural compound present in vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts as a possible therapeutic target against cancer. In practice, this means that the potential of a molecule that could act as a tumor suppressor if it is applied through genetic therapies or pharmacological. From here, researchers clarify: to naturally unblock the 'anticancer potential' of these vegetables, it would be necessary to consume three kilograms a day in a crude way and, even then, nothing would permanently secure his benefit.

Limits of feeding

"The first thing we want to be clear is that there is no specific diet that protects us from cancer," the dietitian-nutritionist explains in the book "Diet and Cancer" Julio Basulto and the university professor and expert in human food Juanjo Cáceres. The authors emphasize that a healthy diet is useful to reduce the risk of some types of tumors, but they do not cure them. "It is easy to find articles that perjure that the cancer is attributable to the fact that we do not consume millenary cereals, live bread or organic foods." These same articles blame the tumors for gluten, cow's milk or tap water. of such hypotheses in the July 2018 report of the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCR) ", argue Basulto and Cáceres.

"Cancer is a multifactorial disease. This means that the feeding is not the only one in which we have to fix to determine the possibilities of developing one. The genetic profile and habits such as drinking, smoking or leading a sedentary life also play a fundamental role, "he says. Núria Malats, head of the Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology Group of the National Cancer Research Center (CNIO) "The scientific evidence obtained so far indicates that, although there is no food that has cancer potential on its own, the consumption of red meats Y ultra-processed foods Yes, it is a risk factor. So, if we talk about cancer prevention, it would be more important to look at what foods should be avoided and not so much in those that (without solid evidence) say serve as prevention, "adds the expert.

False expectations

In spite of everything, to say that a certain food has positive effects on health is a matter – in theory – very monitored in legislation. Francisco Ojuelos, expert lawyer in food law and author of the book 'The right to nutrition', recalls that the nutrition and health claims of food are regulated by both European (Regulation 1924/2006) and national (Royal Decree 1907/96). Ojuelos, who laments that the standard does not have a catalog of sanctions, says that promoting the so-called "anti-cancer foods" is something that, in his opinion, violates the regulations.

The other side of the anticancer food myth would, of course, be its effect on cancer patients. "The big problem with these myths is that they create false expectations in terms of results, especially when the reality is that they only serve to empty the pockets of those who trust them ", reflects Ana Casas, oncologist, researcher and patient. "Trusting blindly in the power of these foods can cause us to stop taking others (and, therefore, produce nutritional deficiencies) and even encourage the abandonment of contrasted therapeutic guidelines. There are people who, for example, after a diagnosis of cancer (in a situation of weakness due to the disease) become vegan thinking that this will be the best for them and that is not the case, "reflects Casas, also a project promoter. 'Foundation Attitude towards cancer'.

(tagsToTranslate) Cancer (t) Science (t) Food (t) Health

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