Prevent and repair DNA mistakes that lead to cancer

Cancer is the result of DNA mutations

These mutations (mistakes) initiate cancer because even a tiny error in DNA can make cells multiply out of control.

When a cell divides, it copies its DNA, so that each new cell has its own version of your genetic material. But each time this copying occurs, it creates an opportunity for a mistake to occur.

In some cases, these mistakes can lead to cancer. Considering you make about 25 MILLION new cells a second – that’s a lot of opportunity for mistakes.

Damaged DNA

The reasons for DNA mistakes

A recent study from the Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University confirms that mistakes can be caused by:

  1. Environmental factors like pollution and solar damage
  2. Lifestyle factors – like poor diet and inactivity
  3. Inherited mutations (genetic disorders)

Or the mistakes simply occur randomly.

Random mistakes account for up to 50% of some cancers

The good news was that only about 5% of cancers are due to inherited mutations.

A further 45% are due to environmental and lifestyle factors. You can significantly cut the risk of them through a largely plant-based diet plus regular servings of oily fish – the combination providing you with the anti-oxidants that help prevent the free radical damage that triggers DNA mutation.

What’s new from the Johns Hopkins study is that they calculated that random mistakes may account for as much as 50% of cancer-causing DNA damage – which explains why a passionate vegetarian like Linda McCartney might still succumb to breast cancer.

Other cancers where random mistakes are a major cause are prostate cancer and brain cancer.

What can you do against cancer?

So, when statistically 50% of us will have to cope with a cancer, is it all largely chance – and are you therefore vulnerable whatever you do?

NO! There’s a lot you can do.

You can support your body’s own natural DNA repair mechanism through your diet.

And you can also give a boost to your immune system, which can ‘tag’ rogue cancer cells at an early stage and eliminate them.


Humans have extensive DNA repair mechanisms, but these begin to weaken with age, so that DNA damage can accumulate in more and more cells. This not only accelerates ageing, but increases the risk of cancers and, for instance, the irreversible eye disease AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration).

Cooked tomatoes are high in lycopene, as in Simply Red Soup from the Health Defence Cookbook.

The carotenoids lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin have been shown to assist DNA repair and reduce damage, as have the minerals selenium and zinc.

Lycopene especially appears to have protective ability against both prostate and breast cancer.

Grapeseed extract – rich in plant polyphenols called anthocyanins – has also been shown to block breast cancer cell DNA damage.

Oxidation or excess free radical action is a known factor in DNA damage and vitamin Cvitamin E and CoQ10 are all powerful antioxidants at the right level.


Your immune system not only defends you against outside pathogen invaders like viruses and dangerous bacteria, but against internal ‘rogue’ cells that become cancer.

Foods that support the immune system include mushrooms (especially shiitake and maitake), dark berry fruits (which are high in polyphenols), leafy green vegetables, green tea and garlic.

Supplement nutrients that support the immune system include vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin D, vitamin E, curcumin, green tea extract, selenium, zinc and lycopene.

There is also a purified natural ingredient called 1-3,1-6 beta glucans derived from the cell walls of yeast that is proven to boost your immune system – see

Cancer protection from fruits and vegetables

The American Cancer Society has for some time recommended NINE portions of fruits and vegetables a day – and that was recently echoed in a London University report that called for TEN portions a day.

The reason for these high recommended levels is not just that fruits and vegetables contain plenty of anti-oxidant vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C, E and minerals selenium and zinc.

Fruits and vegetables also contain highly protective plant compounds called flavonoids and polyphenols. These are both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory (which is also heart-protective).  In some cases they trigger beneficial  ‘gene expression’ – turning off genes that predispose you to cancer and turning on genes that help repair DNA.

So boost your daily intake of dark coloured berry fruits (dark red, blue and black ones like blueberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, loganberries, bilberries, blackberries, chokeberries) and leafy green and cruciferous vegetables. These include kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and spinach.

Cancer protection from plant-extract supplements

Consider, too, a supplement that includes the carotenoids lutein and lycopene and powerful polyphenols like curcumin, green tea extract, bilberry and grapeseed extract.

A supplement doesn’t, of course, replace fresh fruits and vegetables – but the right, comprehensive product is a realistic way to increase your daily intake of polyphenols and carotenoids as well as an optimum intake of vitamins and minerals.

Dr Paul Clayton, former Chair of the Forum on Health at the Royal Society of Medicine, has advised on the formulation of a supplement called NutriShield – that includes these elements.

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Dr Paul Clayton designed NutriShield as a comprehensive healthbutton-2 supplement with OPTIMUM levels of essential nutrients. See more detail elsewhere on this site or click on the button.

Dr Paul Clayton’s best-selling book Health Defence is available from most good bookstores.

See the website for excerpts and links to buy direct from the publisher.

See online here for delicious recipes from the Health Defence Cookbook incorporating healthy foods featuring in a Mediterranean Diet. Combined 3 courses strip