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In humans, the most common form of free radicals is oxygen. When an oxygen molecule O2 becomes electrically charged or "radicalized" it tries to steal electrons from other molecules, causing damage to the DNA and other molecules. Over time, such damage may become irreversible and lead to disease including cancer. Antioxidants are often described as "mopping up" free radicals, meaning they neutralize the electrical charge and prevent the free radical from taking electrons from other molecules.


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Antioxidants are abundant in fruits and vegetables, as well as in other foods including nuts, grains and some meats, poultry and fish. The list below describes food sources of common antioxidants. Beta-carotene is found in many foods that are orange in color, including sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, squash, apricots, pumpkin, and mangos. Some green leafy vegetables including collard greens, spinach, and kale are also rich in beta-carotene. Lutein , best known for its association with healthy eyes, is abundant in green, leafy vegetables such as collard greens, spinach, and kale.

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Lycopene is a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, watermelon, guava, papaya, apricots, pink grapefruit, blood oranges, and other foods. Estimates suggest 85 percent of American dietary intake of lycopene comes from tomatoes and tomato products. Selenium is a mineral, not an antioxidant nutrient. However, it is a component of antioxidant enzymes. Plant foods like rice and wheat are the major dietary sources of selenium in most countries.

The amount of selenium in soil, which varies by region, determines the amount of selenium in the foods grown in that soil. Animals that eat grains or plants grown in selenium-rich soil have higher levels of selenium in their muscle. In the United States, meats and bread are common sources of dietary selenium. Brazil nuts also contain large quantities of selenium.

Foods rich in vitamin A include liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, milk, egg yolks and mozzarella cheese. Vitamin C is also called ascorbic acid, and can be found in high abundance in many fruits and vegetables and is also found in cereals, beef, poultry and fish.

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These habits reduce your risk of lung cancer. Sour cherries are an abundant source of quercetin, a flavonoid with anticarcinogenic and antioxidant activities, Tribole says.

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Add quartered cherries to pancakes, or make a sauce with cherries and pomegranate juice thickened with arrowroot. These are the antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies you should be eating.

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Java fan? Your daily beverage might help fend off cancer. Chan School of Public Health. This summer BBQ staple contains a phenolic compound called ferulic acid, which may inhibit cancer-causing substances, Tribole writes.

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Think outside the cob: You can mix corn kernels with chopped bell pepper and ground pork for a tasty burger, or even add some cooked kernels to a smoothie. Here are some other cancer-fighting foods you should be eating lots of. Dates are higher in total polyphenols than any of the most commonly consumed fruits or vegetables, according to the US Department of Agriculture. The reason? The polyphenols, along with vitamin B6 and fiber, may help prevent certain types of cancer. Learn the signs of pancreatic cancer you might be ignoring. A number of studies point to cancer-fighting properties of ginger.

In one from the University of Michigan, ginger was found to cause ovarian cancer cells to die. Tumors induced in laboratory animals grow much more slowly if the animals are pretreated with beta-ionone, a compound found in ginger. Add a slice of ginger to tea as it brews, sprinkle chopped candied ginger over morning oatmeal, or stir a heaping spoonful of grated ginger into mashed sweet potatoes. Here are some more health benefits and risks of ginger.

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Pink and red grapefruits are high in lycopene, an antioxidant that appears to lower the risk of prostate cancer. A six-year Harvard study involving 48, doctors and other health professionals has linked 10 servings of lycopene-rich foods a week with a 50 percent reduction in prostate cancer. Other protective plant chemicals found in grapefruits include phenolic acid, which inhibits the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines; limonoids, terpenes, and monoterpenes, which induce the production of enzymes that help prevent cancer; and bioflavonoids, which inhibit the action of hormones that promote tumor growth.

The skin of red grapes contains resveratrol, a potent phytochemical that is linked to a reduction in cancer as well as heart disease and stroke, Tribole says. Grapes also contain ellagic acid, which is thought to protect the lungs against environmental toxins. In addition to popping grapes as a snack, you could stir halved grapes into gazpacho or toss some slices into a pasta salad.


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Grape seed extract also has some important health benefits. Bioflavonoids, carotenoids, and other cancer-fighting compounds are abundant in cooking greens. They also contain indoles, compounds that can lessen the cancer-causing potential of estrogen and induce production of enzymes that protect against disease, Tribole writes.

Add some raw kale to salads, braise chopped mustard greens with plenty of chopped garlic, or layer chopped cooked chard in lasagna. Check out these other 10 healthiest vegetables at the supermarket. Portobello and white mushrooms are good sources of selenium, which is a potent cancer-fighting mineral, particularly for prostate cancer.

Additionally, mushrooms are rich in disease-fighting phytochemicals and eating them regularly has been linked to a lower risk of breast cancer in Chinese and Korean women, Tribole points out. To complete the picture: mushrooms are also high in cancer-fighting vitamin D. Author information: 1 School of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, D. Among the conventional cancer treatments, chemotherapy is most frequently carried out to treat malignant cancer rather than localised lesions which is amenable to surgery and radiotherapy.

However, anticancer drugs are associated with a plethora of side effects. Each drug, within every class, has its own set of adverse reactions which may cause patient incompliance and deterioration of the quality of life.


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