One of the pleasures associated with the winter season is certainly the abundance of fresh citrus that can be found on the stalls of the market. Great good is because not only are citrus fruits an excellent source of vitamin C, but they also contain large amounts of anti-cancer compounds that play important roles in cancer prevention.
Direct anticancer effects …
The best-known citrus fruits here are orange, clementine, grapefruit and lemon. All these fruits are characteristic
high levels of monoterpenes and flavanones, two classes of anti-cancer compounds that play a key role in the beneficial effects associated with regular consumption of citrus fruits.
In fact, of all the fruits studied so far, citrus fruits are those with one of the strongest anticancer activities. Many studies have shown that the consumption of these fruits halves the risk of developing several types of cancer, especially cancers of the digestive system (esophagus, mouth and stomach, for example).
This anticancer effect is probably related to the ability of anti-cancer molecules present in citrus fruits (monoterpenes and flavanones) to interfere in several processes essential for tumor development. Thus, monoterpenes block the activity of
important proteins in the growth of cancer cells, thereby reducing their potential to invade the tissues in which they are found.
As for flavanones, they have the property of preserving the structure of the blood vessels, which prevents inflammation and deprives tumors of a major source of growth stimulators.
Bypass our defense systems …
To protect against the possible negative effects of foreign substances, the human body has a complex system of enzymes – especially in the liver – that transform these substances to accelerate their elimination.
All good things, however, have a bad side: indeed, this elimination system does not discriminate harmful substances from those with a positive impact, such as anti-cancer compounds brought by our diet. As a result, these anti-cancer molecules are often removed too quickly from the body, which in turn reduces their effectiveness.
A very important property of citrus fruits that makes their regular consumption so essential for the prevention of cancer is their ability to block some of these systems of elimination and blood of other anticancer compounds present in our diet.
For example, some citrus fruits, especially grapefruit, contain molecules that strongly block these elimination systems (called cytochrome P450) and can significantly affect the amount of other molecules in the blood.
While this property may lead to side effects for people who consume certain classes of drugs, the fact remains that in normal circumstances, the reduction in the elimination of food-borne anticancer compounds can have very positive consequences for maximizing the use of drugs. anticancer potential of these molecules.
In summary, citrus fruits prevent the development of cancer in two ways: on the one hand, they contain molecules acting directly on cancer cells to prevent them from growing and, on the other hand, they also contain other compounds that, without having direct anticancer activity, nevertheless exert an indirect activity by increasing the activity of anticancer molecules present in other foods.
As you can see, having a glass of orange juice for breakfast is not just a good way to give vitamin C to the body, but it's also a good way to protect yourself against the development of several cancers.