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Glossary: AICR's Foods that Fight Cancer

Term Definition
Alpha-carotene One of a group of carotenoids found in colorful fruits and vegetables that can be made into vitamin A by the body.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) A polyunsaturated fatty acid required by the body that is found in many vegetable oils.
Anthocyanin

One of a class of flavonoid pigments found in many blue, red or purple plants.

Antioxidant A substance that protects cells from the damage caused by free radicals.
Apoptosis Programmed cell death.
Benign adenoma A non-cancerous tumor that arises from tissues covering the body's organs.
Benzoic acid A carboxylic acid found in many berries that can be used as a preservative.
Beta-carotene One of a group of red, orange and yellow pigments called carotenoids.
Caffeine A substance found in the leaves and beans of the coffee tree, in tea, yerba mate, guarana berries, and in small amounts in cocoa. It is added to some soft drinks, foods, and medicines. Caffeine increases brain activity, alertness, attention, and energy. It may also increase blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and the loss of water from the body in urine.
Case-control study In cancer research, a study that compares a group of people with cancer to a similar group without cancer. Also called a retrospective study.
Carotenoid A type of antioxidant and a provitamin. It is a yellow, red, or orange substance found mostly in plants.
Catechin One of a class of compounds called phenols; a potent antioxidant.
Ellagic acid One of a class of compounds called phenols; found in many berries.
Ellagitannin A polyphenol compound formed when ellagic acid links with a sugar.
Enzyme A protein that increases the rate of chemical reactions.
Epicatechin One of a class of compounds called phenols; structurally similar to catechin.
Epidemiology The study of disease and risk among human populations.
Flavonol One of class of compounds called flavonoids found in many plant foods.
Folate An essential B vitamin in the form naturally present in foods.
Folic acid An essential B vitamin in the form found in supplements and fortified foods.
Gamma-tocopherol One of a series of compounds that exhibits vitamin E-like behavior.
Glucosinolate Organic compounds containing sulfur and nitrogen; found in cruciferous vegetables.
Hydroxycinnamic acid One of a class of polyphenol acids found in many fruits.
Inflammation The body's reaction (swelling, heat) to harmful stimuli.
Indole Compound arising from glucosinolate found in cruciferous vegetables.
Inositol B vitamin required by the body; found in grains and other plant foods.
Isothiocyanate Chemical group containing sulfur, also known as mustard oils.
Kaempferol Member of the group of compounds called flavonols; found in many plant foods.
Lignan Member of the group of compounds called polyphenols with mild estrogen-like effects.
Lutein A carotenoid found in dark green leafy vegetables and orange-colored fruits and vegetables.
Perillyl alcohol (POH) A monoterpene found in cherries, lavendar, orange peels and other plants. POH inhibits growth of cancer cells and causes cell death in lab studies.
Phytoestrogen A plant substance that exhibits mild estrogen-like effects.
Polyp Abnormal growths of tissue that may or may not develop into cancer.
Polyphenol Member of a large class of plant compounds much studied for their health effects.
Proanthocyanidin Long-chained member of class of compounds called flavonols; found in many fruits.
Protease inhibitor A compound that interferes with the ability of certain enzymes to break down proteins.
Pterostilbene A polyphenol compound that shows antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Quercetin Member of a class of compounds called flavonoids found in tea, apples and many plant foods.
Resveratrol Member of a class of compounds called phenols; found in the skins of grapes and in many other plants, fruits, and seeds.
Saponin A long-chained compound found in soybeans and many other plants.
Sterols A class of organic molecules related to lipids; found in many plants. 
Ursolic acid Member of a class of compounds called polyphenols; found primarily in cranberries' skins.
Zeaxanthin A carotenoid found in dark green leafy vegetables and orange-colored fruits and vegetables.

 

 

Sources:

National Cancer Institute Dictionary of Cancer Terms

www.cancer.gov/dictionary

Published on August 31, 2012

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