WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) - Researchers are spending a lot of money and time trying to find a cure for cancer. However, more and more evidence shows that a healthy diet is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to prevent cancer.
"We don't know where cancer comes from and it is important that we are overall healthy. That is also probably helping us in preventing cancer," says Lombardi Cancer Center Oncologist Dr. Leena Clarke.
Dr. Clarke says cancer fighting foods do exist. For example, foods rich in Vitamin D like fish, cereal and milk should be in your diet. Research shows these foods may help prevent both colon and breast cancer cells from developing.
"Vitamin D, like many other food items have several different effects to our bodies. In terms of preventing cancer, it induces the differentiation of the bad cells so it eliminates them," said Dr. Clarke.
Other foods on Dr Clarke's cancer-fighting list includes; tomatoes, berries, nuts, and soy products. Clarke says, "Soya beans are very high in magnesium, calcium and they then help reduce cholesterol levels."
DC resident Ajowa Ifateyo believes it is not just what you eat, but how you prepare it. In 2008, Ajowa had a thermography test, which is a thermal image of the breast. The results showed hot spots that could be early, pre-cancerous changes.
Ajowa switched her diet to an all raw food diet including mostly fruits and vegetables with some sushi, lean meat and dairy products. A year and a half later, a follow-up exam showed that the hot spots had diminished. "Raw foods are supposed to allow your body to heal," Ajowa said.
Dr. Bharat Aggarwal from M.D. Andersen Cancer Center says turmeric, a popular spice in Indian cuisines could be one reason India's breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer rates are 10 percent lower than people living in the U.S.
And studies have shown a compound in the spice known as curcumin can kill cancer. "We have shown that a wide variety of tumor cells can be selectively killed by curcumin and it does not kill the normal cells but will kill only tumor cells," said Aggarwal.