• Question: Is there any foods that could shrink or any enlargen cancer cells

    Asked by whgraceandaim to Anil, Blanka, Cees, Emma, Mike on 4 Jul 2012.
    • Photo: Michael Cook

      Michael Cook answered on 4 Jul 2012:

      I think we definitely need Blanka on this one!

      I will say that often we see newspaper stories that say things will cure cancer, or make cancer worse, and so on. These stories are often written about unfinished experiments, and the scientists involved don’t know for sure if they’re right or not yet. This can confuse a lot of people and make them think certain things are magically curative, or dangerously harmful!

      There’s a great book by David McCandless called Information is Beautiful. One of the things in it is a big list of things newspapers say either will give you cancer or cure it. Here are some from the list that apparently give you cancer:

      + Bus stations
      + Facebook
      + Toothpaste
      + Wallpaper
      + Celery
      + Toast

      The list is endless!

      I’m sure Blanka would know for sure though.

    • Photo: Blanka Sengerova

      Blanka Sengerova answered on 4 Jul 2012:

      That’s a good question and Mike has got it right about there being a lot of scare stories or hype stories in the media about cancer this and cancer that. Usually what these media stories are based in is a scientific paper that may have shown some vegetable, say, to be effective at making cancer cells grow more slowly. The caveat is that the scientists probably used a compound found in the vegetable, but in much larger amounts than you could evenr get into the body from just eating that vegetable. And that they were looking at isolated tumour cells in a dish, so who knows what happens in a real human. But journalists need something more solid in their articles so we see a lot of ‘cancer cure’ headlines even though the research may be just preliminary.

      Undoubtedly, some foods (or more accurately components of some food) will be effective at killing cancer cells and others, called carcinogens, may lead to the formation of cancer. I can’t think of any from the top of my head, but the important point is that the system is so complex that it is hard to tell whether a food’s effect is actually on the cancer.

      Does that kind of make sense?

    • Photo: Emma Trantham

      Emma Trantham answered on 5 Jul 2012:

      Ooh thanks for answering Blanka 🙂