Can anti-inflammatory foods help reduce cancer risk?

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Can anti-inflammatory foods help reduce cancer risk?

By Jacqueline Silvestri Banks
Published April 22, 2014

Chronic inflammation has started to become a buzzword in the health world as research builds indicating that it may be the cause of many serious illnesses, from heart disease to cancer. According to the National Institutes of Health there is direct connection between long-term inflammation and the development of dysplasia, or abnormal cell growth, which leads to cancer. There are many factors that can contribute to chronic inflammation including stress, toxins, genetic predisposition, lack of exercise and diet.

Many people choose to take a daily anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAIDs) to reduce their chances of developing chronic long-term inflammation. According to The Mayo Clinic, research is being conducted into the use of NSAIDs in preventing cancer. However, some research indicates NSAIDs may be causing more harm than good — some common side effects include constipation, heartburn and headaches. Research has also found NSAID complications to include ulcers, bleeding and perforation in the stomach, esophagus and duodenum. A much safer way to reduce the likelihood of chronic inflammation is to avoid foods that may lead to inflammation and to eat a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods

One byproduct of inflammation is an increase in C-reactive protein in the body. Some research indicates that certain foods, including those rich in dietary magnesium, can help combat this reaction. A 2005 study found that people who consume low levels of magnesium may be prone to elevated levels of C-reactive protein; unfortunately, most Americans consume magnesium at levels well below what is recommended.

Magnesium is responsible for many important bodily functions and simply upping magnesium intake may correct a number of health concerns. Some typical symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include: weakness, muscle cramps, nausea, anxiety, poor memory, fatigue and dizziness, among others. Although it’s almost impossible to overdose on magnesium through supplementation it is just as easy to increase intake with magnesium-rich foods. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, some of the best high-magnesium choices include almonds, spinach, cashews and black beans. Oysters, blackstrap molasses, kelp and pumpkin seeds are also great choices to add to your diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as essential fatty acids, also play a major role in reducing inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases, including cancer. Following a Mediterranean diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce chronic inflammation. Wild fatty fish such as salmon, herring and sardines are some of the best sources of omega-3 and should be eaten about twice per week. Pastured eggs and grass-fed beef are also fantastic sources of omega-3s. For vegans, some great sources of omega-3 include freshly ground flax seeds, unheated flax oil, walnuts, chia seeds and seaweed.

Additionally, try to avoid as many pro-inflammatory foods as possible. Eliminate foods that are high in sugar and avoid toxins and pesticides both in foods and everyday products. Instead, opt for organic or toxin-free alternatives. Manage your blood sugar by avoiding high glycemic foods, such as refined carbohydrates and highly processed foods, and consume adequate amounts of protein with each meal.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified holistic health counselor and busy mother. Her focus is on helping other busy moms in all stages of motherhood keep themselves and their little ones healthy and happy. She uses natural and organic solutions to solve individual health problems and promote clean living. Check out her website at

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