Eating Green to Prevent Cancer

Eating Green to Prevent Cancer
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Chlorophyll, the most ubiquitous plant pigment in the world, may protect our DNA against mutation by intercepting carcinogens.

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Why do people who eat more plants get less cancer? We’ve talked about some phytonutrients that can act as antioxidants to douse free radicals, how some can boost our liver’s own detoxifying enzymes, and some that even boost our DNA repair enzymes, to patch up any damage done. But 22 years ago, the interceptor molecule hypothesis was postulated. Serving as a first line of defense, interceptors bind to mutagens and carcinogens, and thereby block them from coming in contact with our DNA in the first place.

See, many carcinogens, shown here in blue, have a flat ring system narrow enough to slip into the spine of our DNA, causing mutations. But if some interceptor were able to glom onto the carcinogen first, it may no longer fit into our DNA. So the search was on, combing for the existence of carcinogen-binding molecules, and in 2007 we discovered one such amazing molecule was chlorophyll! The most ubiquitous plant pigment in the world, that which makes dark green leafy vegetables dark green.

In subsequent years, the ability of chlorophyll to “totally abolish” DNA damage of human cells exposed to carcinogens was documented in a petri dish. But what we really need to see is does it work in people. But you can’t just give people carcinogens—unless, you pay them enough. “Effects of Chlorophyll on Low-Dose Aflatoxin in Human Volunteers.”

They had people drink a solution of radioactive aflatoxin, the carcinogen that used to be a problem in peanut butter—with or without spinach chlorophyll. Here’s the big spike in their bloodstream of aflatoxin without spinach in their stomach, and this is with. Apparently, the chlorophyll bound to the aflatoxin and prevented its absorption into the bloodstream. “In sum, these studies provide substantial evidence that chlorophylls can strongly inhibit uptake of aflatoxins in the whole animal”—which, in this case, was us.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Gigillo83 and Jynto via Wikimedia Commons

Why do people who eat more plants get less cancer? We’ve talked about some phytonutrients that can act as antioxidants to douse free radicals, how some can boost our liver’s own detoxifying enzymes, and some that even boost our DNA repair enzymes, to patch up any damage done. But 22 years ago, the interceptor molecule hypothesis was postulated. Serving as a first line of defense, interceptors bind to mutagens and carcinogens, and thereby block them from coming in contact with our DNA in the first place.

See, many carcinogens, shown here in blue, have a flat ring system narrow enough to slip into the spine of our DNA, causing mutations. But if some interceptor were able to glom onto the carcinogen first, it may no longer fit into our DNA. So the search was on, combing for the existence of carcinogen-binding molecules, and in 2007 we discovered one such amazing molecule was chlorophyll! The most ubiquitous plant pigment in the world, that which makes dark green leafy vegetables dark green.

In subsequent years, the ability of chlorophyll to “totally abolish” DNA damage of human cells exposed to carcinogens was documented in a petri dish. But what we really need to see is does it work in people. But you can’t just give people carcinogens—unless, you pay them enough. “Effects of Chlorophyll on Low-Dose Aflatoxin in Human Volunteers.”

They had people drink a solution of radioactive aflatoxin, the carcinogen that used to be a problem in peanut butter—with or without spinach chlorophyll. Here’s the big spike in their bloodstream of aflatoxin without spinach in their stomach, and this is with. Apparently, the chlorophyll bound to the aflatoxin and prevented its absorption into the bloodstream. “In sum, these studies provide substantial evidence that chlorophylls can strongly inhibit uptake of aflatoxins in the whole animal”—which, in this case, was us.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Gigillo83 and Jynto via Wikimedia Commons

Nota del Doctor

For more on the antioxidant mechanism, see Antioxidant Power of Plant Foods Versus Animal Foods.  For more on boosting our liver’s ability to detoxify carcinogens, see The Best Detox, and for more on boosting our DNA repair enzymes, see Kiwifruit and DNA Repair. These are but a few of the various beneficial roles played by Phytochemicals: The Nutrition Facts Missing From the Label, and it’s not just the green pigments. There are yellow onesorange onesred ones; and blue ones. Sounds like a Dr. Seuss book! That’s it for Volume 10—thanks for everyone’s continued interest in my work. Volume 11 is next!

For further context, check out my associated blog posts: Eating Green to Prevent CancerPrevent Breast Cancer by Any Greens Necessary; and Foods That May Block Cancer Formation.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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