Diet Information
Dietary Guidelines to Reduce Risk of Cancer

Diet and Cancer

Diet Information

Diet Advice To Protect Against Cancer

Cancer is responsible for about 25 percent of all deaths in the Western world, and diet is now regarded as an important factor in cancer prevention. Indeed, cancer experts now believe that unhealthy diets with low intakes of certain nutrients are linked to the causes of 1 in 3 of all cancers. In addition, there is growing evidence that certain foods can help to protect against cancer.

How Diet is Associated With Cancer

Normal body cells reproduce and grow in a regulated way. When genetic material inside these cells becomes damaged, typically as a result of radiation, viral infections or chemicals, the cells can turn cancerous. While typically unconnected with this initiation phase, diet nutrition may have a significant effect on how the cancer develops and how the body's immune system responds. In particular, a diet rich in antioxidants can reduce the number of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable chemicals which are formed in the body as part of its natural defence mechanism and which, if left unchecked, can create conditions leading to cancer and/or heart disease. Antioxidants are found in a variety of micronutrients such as vitamins (eg. A,C,E) minerals (eg. selenium, zinc), and phytochemicals (eg. bioflavonoids).

Diet To Reduce The Risk of Cancer

More research is needed into the effect of diet on cancer development, before we can devise a specific anti-cancer eating plan. Meantime, here are some general guidelines based on recommendations issued by the World Health Organization and the World Cancer Research Fund. See also: Diet For Smokers

Alcohol

Drink in moderation. Heavy drinking is linked to a higher risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, breast and liver.

Antioxidants

Ensure your daily diet includes plenty of antioxidant-rich foods, especially vegetables and fruits. Choose foods that are high in vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A. The minerals zinc and selenium are also valuable - the latter working in conjunction with vitamin E. Lack of vitamin C is associated with increased risk of cervical, lung, stomach and throat cancers. Alcohol depletes our reserves of vitamin C.

Dietary Fiber

A diet which contains enough fiber (soluble and insoluble) is now seen as essential to help reduce the incidence of typical "Western" carcinomas, (eg. cancer of breast, colon, rectum, stomach, prostate, and uterus), as well as a variety of serious digestive disorders. Click here for sources of high-fiber foods.

Fat

Eat healthy fat. While some fats are essential for good health, excessive fat intakes - especially of saturated or trans-fat - are associated with cancer of the colon and rectum.

Folate and Vitamin B6

Low levels of folate are believed to be linked to a higher risk of cervical cancer. Vitamin B6 may also be related to this type of cancer.

Food Chemicals

Reduce your intake of processed foods. The food manufacturing industry uses a wide variety of preservatives and other additives. High intakes of some of these food chemicals (eg. nitrates and nitrites found in smoked, salted or cured meats) are associated with stomach cancer.

Healthy Balanced Diet Strengthens Immune System

Until more is known about cancer etiology and the links between diet and cancer, the best eating plan is a nutrient-dense diet containing foods from all major food groups. In particular, eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, lean protein and high-fiber carbohydrates. At the same time, reduce your intake of processed or pre-cooked food, taking care to choose items which are free of nitrates, nitrites, hydrogenated or saturated fat, and low in sodium. See also Dietary Guidelines 2005.

Some Cancer Statistics

In America, death from cancer is 321.9 deaths per 100,000 people. Heart disease deaths amount to 106.5 deaths per 100,000 people. A comparison of cancer mortality rates between America and Japan reveals that mortality for American women is 11 percent higher, while cancer mortality for American men is 20 percent lower. (Source: OECD Health Data 2004)

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