How do certain foods help lower the risk of cancer?


From my understanding, cancer is uncontrolled cell replication, which occurs because the DNA of those cells are damaged. How do food like fruits and vegetables lower the risk of damaging DNA?

In: Biology

The hypothesis of that has to deal with antioxidants. UV radiation (sun) and other natural processes lead to ‘free radicals’ or unstable molecules that like to rip hydrogen or other elements from organic matter. Antioxidants are good at interacting with these free radicals to neutralize them. Some people think that eating foods high in antioxidants will increase antioxidants in the body, and therefore decrease free radicals, which will then decrease the frequency of free radicals damaging DNA, which will decrease the chance of cancer.

That stream of cause and effect isn’t proven or disproven, as cancer is complicated, and studies on either cancer or nutrition are notoriously hard to control properly. Healthy foods are good for you for their other benefits, and they certainly aren’t harming you. But don’t assume that eating antioxidant food means you are at reduced risk to cancer. The evidence to support that claim is mostly anecdotal (plausible, but not proven).