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Smoking generates free radicals in the body, causing cell damage that can sometimes lead to cancer.
A study found that smokers might protect themselves from developing lung cancer by eating foods that are rich in antioxidants called flavonoids.
Quit Smoking Now — The Best Bet for Better Health
Smoking increases the risk for several cancers and heart disease, in addition to causing emphysema and other chronic airway diseases.
People who quit smoking lower their chances of developing these diseases and can actually repair some of the damage that smoking has caused.
If quitting smoking proves an insurmountable task, though, there are some things that smokers can do that may help protect them from the effects of cigarette smoke.
Flavonoids—Nature’s Cancer Fighters
Flavonoids are plant-derived compounds that are capable of scavenging free radicals in the body.
Studies have shown that flavonoids have anticancer properties, but most of these trials have used amounts of flavonoids much higher than those typically found in the diet.
The new study, published in the journal Cancer, aimed to determine if flavonoids could protect against lung cancer in smokers and nonsmokers, by comparing the amount and types of flavonoids eaten by 558 people with lung cancer and 837 healthy people.
Smokers who ate more of certain flavonoids called catechin, epicatechin, quercetin, and kaempferol, as well as more vegetables, tea, and wine were less likely to develop lung cancer than smokers who ate less of these flavonoids and foods.
Surprisingly, the protective effect of these foods and flavonoids was not seen among nonsmokers. “These results may reflect the finding that these flavonoid compounds are strong antioxidants against free radicals generated by tobacco smoking,” said the authors.
Dr. Lise Alschuler, author of Alternative Medicine Magazine’s Definitive Guide to Cancer, 2nd Edition: An Integrative Approach to Prevention, Treatment, and Healing, commented, “These findings underscore the significant anticancer properties of flavonoids. Even a relatively small amount of dietary flavonoids exerted significant effects. This effect was most obvious in smokers likely due to the fact that smokers are typically severely depleted in antioxidants and have high exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.”
So where do you find lung-healthy flavonoids?
Benefits of Green and Black Tea
- Epicatechin and catechin are plentiful in green and black teas, with lesser amounts in chocolate, grapes, and apricots. To boost the flavonoid power of tea, add lemon juice before drinking.
- The main sources of quercetin and kaempferol are apples and red onions.
Source: Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, Healthnotes