Cancer is regarded to be a lifestyle disease. For instance, external stimulants like smoking, eating carcinogenic substances, and external stimulants trigger exposure to an environment rich in cancer-causing substances.
Oxidants are the most common of the cell damage-causing molecules. Oxidants are produced during healthy cellular metabolism. These normally help modulate inflammation, kill bacteria, detoxify toxins, and maintain a good vascular (blood vessel) tone. Excess, unutilized oxidants damage cell membranes, lipids, and DNA. This damage gets repaired by antioxidants obtained from food.
We get exposed to oxidants from external sources too. Smoking, alcohol, certain drugs, deep-fried and fatty foods are other sources. We get exposed to oxidants through radiation, UV light, heat shock, and strong sunlight too. Other oxidant sources are air fresheners as well as vehicular and industrial pollutants. Oxidants interact with antioxidants, destroying these. Diet will need to have enough surplus antioxidants to counterbalance the loss from oxidants.
Free oxidants that are not neutralized by antioxidants can cause degenerative disease such as atherosclerotic heart disease, diabetes, skin ailments, arthritis, neurodegenerative disorders, cancers, etc.
Turmeric (curcumin), red chili (capsaicin), cloves (eugenol), ginger (zerumbone), fennel (anethole), kokum (gambogic acid), fenugreek (diosgenin), black cumin (thymoquinone) contain chemicals—shown in the bracket after each herb—that prevent cancer (Aggarwal et al., 2008).
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are observed to reduce cancer risk in organs such as colorectum, lung, prostate, and breast. This protection is attributed to the presence of many glucosinolates molecules found in such vegetables (Abdull et al., 2013).
Hartwell (1969, 1970, 1971) surveyed and collected data on about 3000 plants known to possess anticancer properties. Half of all the anticancer drugs approved globally are either based on or derived from natural products. New drugs are also being continuously discovered and entering the market.
Diet and exercise are prescribed as a cancer preventive. They are adjuncts to cancer treatment. Mind-body therapies are being mainstreamed into cancer treatment. These seek to reduce pain, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, hot flashes, and mood improvement.
Adjunct treatments include relaxation therapies such as meditation, hypnosis, yoga, art, music, tai chi, and qi gong (Elkins et al., 2010). Fatigue in cancer survivors disrupts normal functioning and quality of life. Nonpharmacologic approaches are being tried to provide relief (Bower et al., 2014).
Natural solutions for cancer is a vast subject. A lot of scientific work has been done, and much more needs to be done. We are still at the very early stages of understanding the use of natural solutions for cancer.