Cancer: Watercress could prevent lung, prostate, and skin cancer


The five most common types of cancer in the UK are breast, lung, bowel, prostate, and skin cancer. According to data and projections from charities and a variety of health organisations, one in two people born today will develop cancer in their lifetime. However, there are some easy to access ways people can reduce their risk of the world’s second deadliest disease.

One of these methods is by making sound dietary changes by eating a balanced diet of fruit and vegetables. In common with medications, some of these vegetables are more efficacious than others with regard to their protective properties.

Watercress is one of them according to several studies. The reason for this is because it is high in phytochemicals such as isothiocyanates. These can protect against cancer by protecting healthy cells from damage, and blocking the growth of tumours.

According to one study published in 2017 on the impact of isothiocyanates, only those found in watercress were found to work against certain carcinogenic compounds.

They wrote: “Only watercress extract and PEITC decreased ALDH1 activity in a dose-dependent manner, as well as β-catenin expression. Our research provides new insights on CRC therapy using ITC-enriched Brassicaceae extracts, specially watercress extract, to target CSCs and circulating tumor cells by impairing cell proliferation, ALDH1-mediated chemo-resistance, anoikis evasion, self-renewal and metastatic potential.”

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Overall, watercress and the compounds within it have been found to help someone reduce their risk of lung, prostate, and skin cancer.

The latter of these cancers, skin cancer, is the fifth most common cancer in the UK; a status likely to change as the UK experiences longer and hotter summers.

In a study published in 2018, the authors concluded that isothiocyanates, also known as ITCs, could help reduce the likelihood of skin cancer in some patients.

They wrote: “Current evidence supports the view that ITCs are potent compounds in interacting with the epigenome in order to restore the normal epigenetic landscape in malignant cells.”


Although skin cancer is likely to become more common as the environment of the UK changes, it remains only the fifth most prevalent cancer behind prostate, lung, breast, and bowel cancer.

Of these, one of the most preventable is lung cancer.

Affecting around 48,549 patients in the year, the condition has one of the lowest survival rates with just 10 percent of patients surviving for more than 10 years.

Despite this, lung cancer is one of the most preventable. Charity Cancer Research UK say that 79 percent of lung cancer cases are preventable.

A lot of this is down to one very common and still very popular lifestyle habit which contributes to a number of cancer cases every year.

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The lifestyle act in question is smoking. The NHS says: “Smoking cigarettes is the single biggest risk factor for lung cancer. It’s responsible for more than 70 percent of cases. Tobacco smoke contains more than 60 different toxic substances, which are known to be carcinogenic (cancer-producing).”

Alongside smoking tobacco, smoking cannabis has also been found to increase the risk of lung cancer; part of this is down to the fact that the cannabis smoked is mixed with tobacco. Nevertheless, the NHS caution: They added: “If you smoke more than 25 cigarettes a day, you are 25 times more likely to get lung cancer than a non-smoker.”

“It’s been estimated that smoking four joints (homemade cigarettes containing a mix of tobacco and cannabis) may be as damaging to the lungs as smoking 20 cigarettes.

“Even smoking cannabis without mixing it with tobacco is potentially dangerous. This is because cannabis also contains substances that can cause cancer.”



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