Based on rates from 2007-09, 41.24% of men and women born today will be diagnosed with some type of cancer some time during their life. This means that nearly 1 in 2 men and women will be diagnosed with cancer in their life, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Environment and lifestyle factors are attributed to about 90 to 95 percent of all cancer cases. The evidence indicates that of all cancer-related deaths, as many as 30 to 35 percent are linked to diet, according to U.S. National Library of Medicine.
“Healthy eating is tied to healthy weight,” said Brooke Schembri, a registered dietitian with WellStar. “Excessive fat is tied to many cancers. People who tend to eat fruits and vegetables also tend to be a healthy weight.”
Eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans are important to preserving lean body mass, which in turn leads to a reduced risk for many cancers. Schembri also suggests avoiding alcohol, red meat and processed meat and sugary and fatty foods. There is convincing evidence that being overweight or obese as an adult increases the risk of cancers of the bowel, oesophagus, pancreas, kidney, endometrium and breast, according to the World Cancer Research Fund International.
Crystal Langlois, a registered dietitian and oncology nutritionist with Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Southeastern Regional Medical Center, said healthy foods have special properties not found in processed foods that can keep the growth of abnormal cells at bay.
“All the different fruits and vegetables … different seasonings, a lot of those contain phytochemicals,” Langlois said. “Studies show that phytochemicals help stimulate the immune system. It can help us reduce some of those toxins in the body. They can help repair cell damage. They all have some sort of cancer-fighting effect.”
Phytochemicals, chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants, are responsible for color such as the deep purple of blueberries and the smell of garlic. Phytochemicals are removed by modern food processing techniques.
Cancer prevention also requires no smoking, moderate use of alcohol, caloric restriction, exercise, avoiding too much sunlight, use of vaccinations and regular check-ups.
To find out more about healthy nutrition that also can reduce the risk of cancer, visit www.cancercenter.com/
STOPPING CANCER BEFORE IT BEGINS
Dietitian Crystal Langlois has a list of do’s and don’ts for those wanting to eat healthy and reduce their risk for cancer.
Drink water. Water is the most essential nutrient for cells. For added flavor, try adding fresh fruits, cucumber slices or lemon and lime wedges to ice-cold water.
Eat a “mixed” breakfast that includes foods containing a little carbohydrate, a little protein and a little fat. For example, eggs and a bowl of fruit or a protein shake with soy milk and a banana includes three essential macronutrients, provides energy and tastes good, too.
Eat less fat. The average American eats the equivalent of a stick of margarine a day, most of which is hidden in processed foods such as club crackers, frozen pot pies, potato chips, pastries such as doughnuts and croissants, and snack cakes. However, because some fat is necessary, try to increase your consumption of healthier fats such as plant oils (olive oil, canola oil, walnuts and flaxseed).
Increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Fiber helps maintain colon health There are many high-fiber pills, wafers, crackers and powders that are easy to work into a daily routine. Check food labels for high-quality fiber ingredients such as psyllium seed, psyllium husk, oat bran, mucilages, gums and pectin.
Eat nutrient-dense foods every day. Try to consume yogurt, deep-orange vegetables (carrots, squash and sweet potatoes), vegetables in the cabbage family, tomatoes, citrus fruits and dark green leafy vegetables regularly. The deeper the color of a fruit or vegetable, the more nutrients it provides.
DON’T rely on pills for nutrition. Pills cannot substitute for a whole food. Foods contain much more than just vitamins and minerals.
DON’T become dehydrated. Urine that is deep in color or has a strong odor means more water is needed in the diet.
DON’T eat sugary foods in the morning. A burst of refined sugar on an empty stomach will trigger a flood of insulin that suppresses the immune system and feeds any abnormal cells.
DON’T eat daily amounts of corn oil and soybean oil, especially if hydrogenated (check food labels). These fats are immune-suppressive and researchers are linking hydrogenated fats to increased free radicals, which are destructive to cells. For the same reason, butter is a better choice than margarine.
DON’T expect to get more fiber by eating iceberg or head lettuce. They have small amounts of fiber. White grapes, corn, cucumbers and celery are also low in fiber. Some quick, simple high-fiber foods include dried figs, bananas, raisins, prunes, fresh oranges and dried dates.