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Do Fruits and Vegetables Really Reduce Overall Cancer Risk?

04 August 2021

This topic came about after a two-hour visit to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law that live within the city where I reside. My daughter and I took at least an hour to get there due to a traffic jam that was unexpected. We have not seen them for ages, so we were excited to see them and we thought that we have to pay them a visit even for a few hours of our busy day.

We were happy to see them well and with my in-laws’ children living in the same house. They were all female and single working with stable jobs. One is working in an airline company, another is working as an administrative officer of a huge technology company, and the other one who is the eldest has her own small company that she is solely managing.

I thought everything was going smoothly with them at face value and how my in-laws’ children were able to finish school and landed stable jobs. After a few minutes of conversation in the living room, we headed to the dining area where I saw the dining table teeming with a variety of dishes specially prepared for everybody including us. There were Korean dishes, too.

We had another round of lively and interesting conversation at the dinner table about our relatives and close friends we also have not seen for many years. There was happy as well as bad news about them. After a few minutes, the topic was changed to a more serious one when my brother-in-law revealed that he underwent a major operation for colon cancer. It was really surprising and shocking news.

My brother-in-law has been living his life in an ordinary way, he is always on the move, very positive, and fun to be with. There’s no dull moment with him. At that time, I did not ask how he contracted colon cancer thinking that it would just spoil the fun we’re enjoying at that moment. Anyway, the good news was that he was able to survive the operation and he was not required by his doctor to undergo chemotherapy anymore.  

Regarding my sister-in-law, she was in a good mood and was also active in our conversation. However, when I offered her some of the food that she did not care to eat, she refused and told me that she also recently underwent a major operation on her stomach and she still has to undergo chemotherapy and be under medication. There were no other details given by her about her condition and the reasons why she contracted that kind of disease.

It was a fun-filled sort of reunion with my late husband’s siblings and their children. On my way home, I pondered on cancer-stricken in-laws which was a surprise to me knowing them and their lifestyles that were generally normal and wholesome.

It is general knowledge that there are many kinds of cancer that could strike us at any time. Medical experts usually point to an unhealthy lifestyle, not eating well-balanced food such as consuming fewer amounts of fruits and vegetables as one of the culprits. I have also read that cancer is developed through constant stress-related exposures at home and in the workplace.

Stress as indicated in Dr. R. Palma’s book “ stress (as defined in the Gould Medical Dictionary) is any stimulus or succession of stimuli of such magnitude as to tend to disrupt the homeostasis of the organism; when the mechanism of adjustment fail or become disproportionate or uncoordinated, the stress may be considered as injury, resulting in disease or death.”

Dr. Palma also added that “The disturbing biologic, chemical and physiologic processes (failure of mechanism of adjustment and being disproportionate), may cause loss of control of growth of abnormal cells which leads to cancer.”

In my own understanding of what he indicated about the development of cancer is when there are things in the environment or stimulus becomes too big to handle and control, our body’s own adjustment mechanism is not that strong enough, there would be a failure and unbalance in our biological and how our body responds to stressors, that growth of abnormal cells may happen that could develop into cancer. So stress, based on Dr. Palma’s book may possibly cause cancer if we are unable to control and resolve the nature of stress that challenges us.

On the other hand, studies on eating fruits and vegetables were conducted to find out if overall cancer could be reduced with eating the right amount of nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables. One study about overall cancer risk and eating fruits and vegetables affirms that "Currently, advice in relation to diet and cancer should include the recommendation to consume adequate amounts of fruit and vegetables, but should put more emphasis on the well-established adverse effects of obesity and high alcohol intakes on cancer risk." (https://www.nature.com/articles/6606032).

While there are other studies relating more fruits and vegetable intake to reduce cancer risks, this study also emphasized obesity that may also promote cancer risk. As such, being overweight may also imply a possible danger of contracting cancer. And one thing that we can do to shed off unwanted fats in our body to maintain an ideal weight is to engage in exercises.

I think everyone agrees that doing physical exercise is one best solution to maintain our weight, prevent obesity and overweight which according to this study, may lead to cancer risk. If you have not been exercising lately, and have weight issues, don’t let time pass you by. Start your physical fitness regimen right now!

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