Research

Fruits and vegetables are essential for protection from cancer

A cancer researcher in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences states that it’s now time to place emphasis on the health benefits of fruits, vegetables and grains rather than focusing on their yields, appearance and safety.

An associate professor of food science and a faculty member of the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute and the Center of Molecular Immunology and Infectious Disease, Jairam Vanamala, states that in order to assist the development of new and science-based approaches for cancer prevention, researchers need to take into account the effect of how foods are handled, harvested, prepared and stored, rather than just emphasizing on the food’s potential itself, which won’t sufficiently measure their cancer fighting properties.

He further thinks that the effect of ‘farm-to-fork continuum’ of the bioactive compounds in fruits, grains and vegetables has been neglected and needs to be studied further.

Jairam Vanamala predicted in the next 20 years there will be 57 percent new cases around the globe. As most emerging cancerous cells are genetically altered or their critical cellular signaling pathways are dysregulated, he assumes that a “silver bullet” treatment won’t be effective on them.

He says that rather than research towards cancer treatment, it should be done towards it’s prevention. The evidence gathered suggest that a diet high in fruits, grains and vegetables prevents many chronic diseases including cancer. Tumor growth is suppressed by the presence of excess bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, glucosinolates and carotenoids in fruits, grains, legumes and vegetables.

Jairam Vanamala has noticed that although there has been extensive research that plant bioactive compounds can prevent the growth of cancerous cells, but there is a lack of public health campaigns that encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Thus he has appealed for increased intake of bioactive compounds in his article “Food Systems Approach to Cancer Prevention”.

April 3, 2017

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