Foods influence on affecting cancer risk

Not only do our daily food choices play a substantial role on the influence and specific type of cancer that may develop but our food choices may also provide a protective role in reducing our risk of this deadly disease. 

There are many recommendations and strategies we can use to make an impact on reducing our overall cancer risk.  Here are some ways to incorporate a more healthy lifestyle when it comes to dietary choices and body weight:

Body fatness

One way is by achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight throughout our life.  This can be done through engaging in regular physical activity, limiting consumption of energy-dense foods and avoiding beverages with added sugars.

Plant-based foods

Another way is to consume more plant-based foods with an emphasis on whole foods from plants.  Eating at least 5 servings each day of fruits and vegetables, choosing whole grains instead of refined grains, limiting intake of red meat and refined starchy foods can be of benefit to reducing cancer risk.

Alcoholic drinks

If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation.  This means no more than two drinks a day for a man and no more than one drink a day for a woman.

Preserved, processed and prepared foods

Limit the consumption of salt-cured foods and processed meats.  This would include sausage, hot dogs, luncheon meats, pastrami and deli meats.

Dietary supplements

The best way to obtain the necessary nutrients each day is to eat food and not take a supplement.  Unless a person has a deficiency of a nutrient, dietary supplements are usually not needed and have not been found to prevent cancer.  Our body absorbs and uses the nutrients from food far better than from a supplement.

A list of specific cancers and the food risk and protective factors associated with each of them

·         Breast (postmenopausal)

Risk factors - Alcoholic drinks, body fatness, abdominal fatness, and adult weight gain

Protective factors – Breastfeeding and healthy body weight

 ·         Colon and rectum

Risk factors – Red meat, processed meat, alcoholic drinks, body fatness, abdominal fatness

Protective factors – Physical activity, foods containing dietary fiber, garlic, milk, calcium

·         Endometrium

Risk factors – Body fatness, abdominal fatness

Protective factors – Physical activity

·         Esophagus

Risk factors – Alcoholic drinks, body fatness

Protective factors – Nonstarchy vegetables, fruits, foods containing beta-carotene, foods containing vitamin C

·         Lung

Risk factors – Arsenic in drinking water, beta-carotene supplements

Protective factors – Fruits, foods containing carotenoids

·         Mouth, pharynx, and larynx

Risk factors – Alcoholic drinks

Protective factors – Nonstarchy vegetables, fruits, foods containing carotenoids

·         Pancreas

Risk factors – Body fatness, abdominal fatness

Protective factors – foods containing folate

·         Prostate

Risk factors – Diets high in calcium

Protective factors – Foods containing lycopene, foods containing selenium

·         Stomach

Risk factors – Salt, salty and salted foods

Protective factors – Nonstarchy vegetables, allium vegetables, fruits