Organisations like the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommend including drinks in your diet that provide vitamins and phytonutrients that have demonstrated anti-cancer effects. Coffee, green tea, red wine, and 100 per cent vegetable and fruit juices are among the best choices.
6 Drinks that Fight Cancer
What can you drink to prevent cancer? According to the latest research findings, beverages that should be included in a cancer-fighting diet include:
While the caffeine in coffee isn’t well-tolerated by some people, nutrition-rich coffee is also a concentrated source of antioxidant phytochemicals. These include theophylline and theobromine, chlorogenic acid (a powerful phenol), quinic acid, cafestol and kahweol.
Certain studies have linked coffee consumption with reduced risk of liver, colorectal, endometrial, oral/pharyngeal and other cancers.
And although some worry about the adverse effects of caffeine/coffee on digestive health, there’s no evidence suggesting an association of coffee intake with stomach, pancreas or GI cancers.
Green, Black and White Teas
Black, green, white and also oolong teas (sometimes called “true teas”) are rich in many disease-fighting nutrients, such as catechins, polyphenol compounds, and epigallocatechin gallate (or EGCG), flavonols and more. Researchers believe this to be the reason that long-term tea consumption is linked with lower risks for bladder, stomach and pancreatic cancers, among other types.
Green tea is an excellent source of EGCG, while other teas also provide epicatechin, epigallocatechin (EGC) and epicatechin-3-gallate (ECG).
Matcha green tea (whole green tea leaf that is stone ground) is another excellent option since it’s rich in antioxidants that give it the ability to support the immune system. Lab studies have linked green tea types with reduced cancer development in colon, liver, breast, lung and prostate cells.
100 Percent Vegetable Juices
According to many studies, having a daily serving of green vegetable juice or another juice/smoothie with pulp and fibre is an easy way to boost your nutrient intake and help ward off chronic diseases.
A large body of research shows that including a variety of vegetables in your diet can help to lower the risk for many cancers, not to mention other chronic diseases. For example, juices made with dark greens provide antioxidants, such as carotenoids, which studies link with inhibited growth of various cancer cells, including skin, lung, stomach and breast cancer.
Tomato juice is another beneficial juice, as it’s a great source of beta carotene/vitamin A, vitamin C, lycopene and other carotenoids that have anti-cancer effects. Lycopene in tomato juice has been linked with protection against prostate cancer.
Carrot juice is an excellent way to get more vitamin C, vitamin K, beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, luteolin, and flavonoid phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
100 Percent Fruit Juices (No Sugar-Added, In Small Quantities)
Examples of healthy juices include those made from anti-cancer fruits such as cherries, blueberries, pomegranate, oranges, grapefruit and acai. Consuming juices made from dark-coloured fruits such as berries are a powerful way to get more resveratrol and anthocyanins into your diet, which have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Grapefruit juice is another example that contains many phytochemicals that help defend against cancer, according to research studies, such as naringenin and other flavonoids, limonin, beta-carotene, lycopene and vitamin C.
Pomegranate juice provides polyphenols that have antiproliferative, pro-apoptotic and anti-inflammatory effects, offering protection against prostate, lung, breast and other cancers.
Herbal Teas and Infusions
The use of herbal remedies, which come in many forms, is “by far the most commonly used group of alternative treatments among cancer patients,” according to specific literature reviews. Various herbs, whether in tea or extract form, have been shown to offer therapeutic effects on cancer markers. They are also considered safe, unlikely to cause side effects or dependency, and widely available.
Herbal teas — which include ginger, chamomile, honeybush, dandelion, peppermint, chai, and a variety of Traditional Chinese medicine herbal blends — are caffeine-free and full of benefits, including supporting gut health and reducing inflammation. Herbal infusions are another great option, which is made by steeping herbs in water until the water absorbs the herb’s oils and therapeutic compounds.
These teas are also made with water, which has far-reaching benefits. Water is vital for overall health because it increases urination and detoxification of potentially cancer-causing compounds that can wind up in the bladder and elsewhere.
Red Wine (In Moderation)
Red grapes and red wine are filled with cancer-fighting compounds called resveratrol. Studies suggest that chemicals found in wine can contribute to the destruction of cancer cells and inhibition of cancer-cell growth.
However, keep in mind that research shows these positive effects on different human cancer lines occur in a dose-dependent manner, which seems too much alcohol may increase your cancer risk (more on this below).
How many cancer-fighting drinks do you need to consume to reap their benefits?
In terms of consumption and frequency, this depends on the type of drink. Here are some general guidelines according to most health experts:
Coffee: 1–2 cups may be best; however, up to 3 to 5 cups per day for most people won’t lead to any adverse effects for most people.
Tea: several cups daily, or even more if the tea is herbal and uncaffeinated.
Vegetable juices: between 4 to 8 ounces daily.
Fruit juices: too much juice can be an additional source of sugar and calories, so small amounts are best, between 4 to 8 ounces daily for adults. Some experts recommend up to 8–12 ounces of veggie/fruit juices daily for children and teens between ages 7 to 18.
Wine: 1 to 2 drinks per day at most (2 or less is recommended for adult men, and one or less for women).
If You Already Have Cancer
What is suitable for cancer patients to drink? Doctors recommend these health-boosting beverages, which can help with hydration and provide critical nutrients:
Water. Some cancer treatments may make plain water taste unappealing; in this case, drink more flavoured water, including mineral water, seltzer or water with lemon or other fruit.
100% fruit or vegetable juices can help prevent dehydration and provide electrolytes and antioxidants.
Coconut water or milk is a hydrating beverage with medium-chain triglycerides, a beneficial fatty acid that can help support gut health. Coconut milk (higher in fat) also contains bacteria-fighting, antioxidant properties that support the immune system.
Herbal teas, such as ginger tea or peppermint teas, can help with nausea and other symptoms caused by treatments.
Kefir and organic milk (if tolerated) provide many essential vitamins and minerals, plus probiotics if fermented.
Bone broth is a unique source of difficult-to-get amino acids, collagen, trace minerals and electrolytes.
Risks and Side Effects
Like some beverages and foods that can help fight disease development, research tells us there are also potentially cancer-causing foods to avoid.
Which drinks should you limit or ideally cut out from your diet?
Sugary drinks, including soda, energy drinks and juices, teas and coffee drinks with added sugar. Research has revealed a strong link between sugary drink consumption and heart disease, obesity and diabetes risk. Ongoing research suggests that these beverages can also put you at greater risk for certain cancers such as breast, pancreas, gallbladder and endometrial cancer.
Alcohol in excess. While wine in moderation has protective effects against certain diseases, too much seems to do the opposite. High alcohol intake increases the risk of certain types of cancer development, according to research studies, including colon/rectum, oral, liver, breast and other cancers.
There’s evidence that certain drinks and foods can help stop cancer from forming or progressing as part of a healthy diet.
Cancer-fighting drinks provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals, hydrating water, and probiotics.
What are the best choices? Coffee, green/black/white teas, 100 per cent fruit and vegetable juices, herbal teas, and red wine can all support your immune system and potentially lower the risk for cancer development.