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The answer to whether your body can fight off cancer may be on the end of your fork. According to research at Washington State University, vegetarian foods are full of compounds that turn on cancer-fighting genes. Junk food, not so much.
More than 40 plant-based compounds can turn on your genes that slow the spread of cancer, according to a a study by Gary Meadows. Meadows says he is encouraged by his findings because the spread of cancer is most often what makes the disease fatal. Moreover, says Meadows, diet, nutrients and plant-based chemicals appear to be opening many avenues of attack.
“We’re always looking for a magic bullet,” he says. “Well, there are lots of magic bullets out there in what we eat and associated with our lifestyle. We just need to take advantage of those. And they can work together.”
Meadows says his study reinforces two concepts.
For one, he has a greater appreciation of the role of natural compounds in helping our bodies slow or stop the spread of cancer. The number of studies connecting nutrients and metastasis suppressor genes suggests a need for more deliberate research into the genes.
“And many of these effects have not been followed up on,” he says. “There’s likely to be more compounds out there, more constituents that people haven’t even evaluated yet.”
Meadows also sees these studies playing an important role in the shift from preventing cancer to living with it and keeping it from spreading.
“We’ve kind of focused on the cancer for a long time,” he says. “More recently we’ve started to focus on the cancer in its environment. And the environment, your whole body as an environment, is really important in whether or not that cancer will spread.”