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.
Many of the medical and scientific terms used in this summary are found in the NCI Dictionary of Genetics Terms. When a linked term is clicked, the definition will appear in a separate window.
Many of the genes described in this summary are found in the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) database. When OMIM appears after a gene name or the name of a condition, click on OMIM for a link to more information.
There are several hereditary syndromes that involve endocrine or neuroendocrine glands,...
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 factors.
"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 control group.
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 eating plan:
Don't eat more than 3 ounces of red meat daily -- about the size of a deck of cards.
Limit fatty foods.
Avoid salty snacks, and use herbs and spices instead of salt as seasoning.
Men should limit alcoholic drinks to two per day; women, to one per day.
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.