Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, with an estimated 10 million deaths in 2020. While there are many factors that contribute to cancer development, including genetics and environmental factors, diet has been shown to play an important role in cancer prevention and treatment. Phytonutrients, or plant-based compounds, have been found to have cancer-killing properties and can be an important addition to a cancer-fighting diet.
In this article, we will discuss eight cancer-killing phytonutrients that have been extensively studied and shown to have potent anticancer effects. These phytonutrients include beta-carotene, lycopene, piperine, resveratrol, sulforaphane, watermelon, curcumin, and luteolin. We will also discuss the types of cancer that these compounds can help prevent and treat, as well as their pharmacological actions.
Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, a group of pigments that are found in many fruits and vegetables. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, and it has been found to have potent antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that beta-carotene can help prevent cancer by neutralizing free radicals that can damage DNA and lead to cancer development (1).
In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers found that high intake of beta-carotene was associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer (2). Another study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that high serum levels of beta-carotene were associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women (3).
Beta-carotene has been shown to have chemopreventive effects on various types of cancer, including lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer (4).
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