You already know that not smoking, maintaining a healthy
weight, and drinking alcohol in moderation are keys to avoiding cancer. But
what if you want to take cancer prevention one step further? What else can you
do? Simple, say the experts -- eat right.
Though factors outside our control, such as genetics and
environment, do play large roles in the development of cancer, a good diet can
tip the scales in your favor.
Smoking is the leading cause of cancer in the United States.
Smoking increases the risk of many types of cancer. These include:
Nasal cavity cancer.
Acute myeloid leukemia.
A smoker's risk of cancer can be 2 to 10 times higher than it is for a person who never...
Research shows that dietary patterns are closely associated
with the risk for several types of cancer. The American Cancer Society
estimates that as many as 35% of cancer deaths may be related to dietary
"Diets low in fat and high in fiber, fruits, vegetables,
and grain products are associated with reduced risks for many cancers,"
says Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, author of Tell Me What to Eat to Help Avoid
Breast Cancer and Eating Well for a Healthy Menopause, among others.
In one recent two-year study, she says, non-melanomaskin cancer patients on a
20%-of-calories-from-fat diet had five times fewer new skin cancers at the end
of the study compared with patients in the typical 38%-of-calories-from-fat
In another recent study, says Magee, a lower-fat diet appeared
to decrease breast-tissue density in menopausal women, which may decrease
breast cancer risk.
These American Institute for Cancer Research recommendations on
diet and lifestyle can provide a starting point for your own cancer-prevention
Don't eat more than 3 ounces of red meat daily -- about the size of a deck
Limit fatty foods.
Avoid salty snacks, and use herbs and spices instead of salt as
Men should limit alcoholic drinks to two per day; women, to one per
Do not eat charred food.
Avoid being overweight. Limit weight gain during adulthood.
Take an hour's brisk walk (or get equivalent exercise) daily.
Although Americans are slowly adopting healthier diets, a large
gap remains between recommended dietary patterns and what we actually eat.
According to the CDC, only about 25% of adults in the U.S. eat the recommended
five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.