Fruits And Vegetables

Substances found in fruits and vegetables may exert anti-carcinogenic action by inhibiting formation of carcinogens, by inducing detoxifying enzymes, or by blocking the carcinogen from reaching target tissue. Tumor promotion may be inhibited by retinol and beta-carotene (green/yellow vegetables and fruits), tocopherol (nuts, wheat germ), vitamin C (vegetables, fruits), organosulfur compounds (garlic, onions), curcumin (tumeric, curry), and capsaicin (chili peppers). Covalent DNA binding is inhibited by phenyliso-thiocyanate (broccoli, cabbage), ellagic acid (fruits, nuts, berries), and flavonoids (fruits, vegetables). Biotransformation of potential carcinogens is inhibited by indole-3-carbinol (cruciferous vegetables). Thus, citrus fruit contains carotenoids, but it also contains flavonoids, glucarates, terpenes, and phenolic acids. Does protection require one or more of these plus carotenoids? Studies along this line of reasoning are virtually unknown. Perhaps studies of combinations of protectants will yield an answer where studies of single substances haven't. Block et al. (49) compiled an exhaustive review of the roles of fruit and vegetables in cancer prevention. A statistically significant protective was found in 128 of 156 dietary studies (82%). Significant protection against lung cancer was found in 24 of 25 studies and against cancers of the oral cavity, larynx, or esophagus in 28 of 29 studies. They also found significant protection against pancreatic or stomach cancer (26 of 30 studies), colorectal and bladder cancer (23 of 38 studies), and cancers of the ovary, cervix, and endometrium in 11 of 13 studies. Protection against breast cancer was adduced from metanalysis. Which particular components of fruit and vegetables or which combination of components is active remains to be elucidated.

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