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Cancer Health Center

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Top Cancer-Fighting Foods

Mounting evidence shows that the foods we eat weigh heavily in the war against cancer.

Vitamin D

This fat-soluble vitamin which helps absorb calcium to build strong teeth and bones may also build protection against cancer.

How It Works

Researchers suggest that vitamin D curbs the growth of cancerous cells.

Cancer-Fighting Abilities:

A report presented at the latest meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) showed a link between increased vitamin D intake and reduced breast cancer risk. It found vitamin D to lower the risk of developing breast cancer by up to 50%.

Vitamin D may also improve survival rates among lung cancer patients, according to a Harvard study reported in 2005. Patients who received surgery for lung cancer in the summer, when vitamin D exposure from sunshine is greatest, and had the highest intake of vitamin D, reported a 56% five-year survival rate. Patients with low vitamin D intakes and winter surgeries had only a 23% survival rate.

How to Get It

In light of these recent findings, many researchers consider the current RDA of 400 international units (IU) too low. William G. Nelson, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., suggests that the RDA recommendations for vitamin D be increased to 1,000 IU for both men and women. "Higher amounts may eventually prove better, but for now that amount is likely to be safe and have a protective effect," he tells WebMD.

While vitamin D is often associated with milk, high concentrations also can be found in these seafood choices: cod, shrimp, and Chinook salmon. Eggs are another good source. And don't forget sunshine. In just 10 minutes, you can soak up as much as 5,000 IU of vitamin D if you expose 40% of your body to the sun, without sunscreen.


If you enjoy sipping tea, you'll be happy to know that it appears promising against some forms of cancer.

How It Works

Like many plant-based foods, tea contains flavonoids, known for their antioxidant effects. One flavonoid in particular, kaempferol, has shown protective effects against cancer.

Cancer-Fighting Abilities:

A large-scale study evaluating kaempferol intake of more than 66,000 women showed that those who consumed the most of it had the lowest risk of developing ovarian cancer. Researcher Margaret Gates, a doctoral candidate at Harvard's School of Public Health, suggests that consuming between 10 milligrams and 12 milligrams daily of kaempferol -- the amount found in four cups of tea --offers protection against ovarian cancer.

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