Ongoing researches on cancer are focusing on the role of diet in fighting the diseases. Several observational and scientific studies have documented the efficacy of certain vitamins in fighting cancer.
Vitamins To Fight Cancer
Vitamin B9, commonly known as folate or folic acid, plays an important role in preserving the genetic material or DNA. Consuming adequate amounts of folate rich foods is believed to reduce the risk of DNA mutation responsible for growth of the malignant cells.Leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits are the richest sources of vitamin B9.Moderate to small amounts of this B vitamin is present in beans, peas and broccolis.
In animal foods, vitamin B9 is found in liver and eggs. Breads, cereals and grains fortified with folic acid, an easily absorbable form of vitamin B9, are popular dietary sources of this important vitamin. Several studies have documented the effectiveness of folate in reducing the risks of cancer of the colon, pancreas, breast and childhood cancers.However, experimental data from various studies suggest that excess supplementation with folic acid may increase the risk of carcinogenesis while modest supplementation can decrease the risk of developing cancer lesions.
According to the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, supplementation with folate can fight cancer at the early state of carcinogenesis in people suffering from folate deficiency. However, folate supplements may stimulate growth of cancer cells if administered at the advanced stage of the disease.
In several studies, researchers have observed a strong association between eating a diet rich in vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables and reduced risk of developing cancers of the lungs, mouth, esophagus, larynx, pancreas, colon, rectum, breast, cervix and stomach. However, large-scale studies have shown that the cancer fighting property of vitamin C is insignificant in vitamin C supplements.
According to the American Cancer Society, some oncologists believe that vitamin C supplements may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Instead of fighting cancer with vitamin C supplements, the American Cancer Society recommends eating a variety of plant foods, the natural dietary sources of vitamin C and other cancer fighting nutrients.
Researchers have observed that high level of serum vitamin D reduces the risk of developing several types of cancers. After reviewing studies focusing on anti-cancer property of vitamin D, the International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded in 2008 that vitamin D could significantly reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Some studies have also revealed the beneficial role of vitamin D in preventing prostate and breast cancer.
Researchers are currently trying to understand the biological process through which vitamin D prevents carcinogenesis. According to the Institute of Medicine, the recommended daily allowance for vitamin D up to the age of 70 is 600 International Units. Adults more than 70 years of age need at least 800 IU of vitamin D daily. Consuming up to 4000 IU of vitamin D per day is considered safe for the health.
The powerful antioxidant property of vitamin E can help to fight cancer by suppressing the activities of free radicals involved in DNA mutation. In a large-scale study conducted by the National Public Health Institute in Finland and the National Cancer Institute, researchers found that vitamin E and other antioxidant vitamins could reduce the risk of colorectal and prostate cancer.