Cancer is one of the most horrific, terrifying, and destructive diseases, stealing the lives of nearly 600K Americans a year. It is the number 2 cause of death and it impacts all of us, as we either know someone who has suffered from it or have done so personally. I have witnessed many loved ones fight for their life and many who have lost the battle over the years and it is a powerful, poorly understood nemesis. Unfortunately, scientists and physicians do not fully have a grasp on prevention or treatment of the multitude of cancers, as there are many different types, with different personalities, and varying responses to treatment modalities, despite the vast resources, time, and money focused on advancing the technology. What we know about diet and lifestyle’s effect on cancer is also minimal, but there are some associations that are pretty well-established. I say we do all that is in our power to incorporate those recommendations to prevent cancer to the best of our ability and do our best with what we do know.
- Obesity is the second largest risk factor for cancer, coming in after smoking.
- Consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables consistently helps reduce risk for cancer.
- Soy products may reduce risk for certain cancers.
- Certain animal products, including red and processed meats, meats cooked at high temperatures, and dairy products promote cancer growth.
- Alcohol increases risk for cancer.
- Environmental toxins increase risk for cancer, especially in concentrated doses.
Here is what we can do about it to minimize risk:
- Maintain a healthy body weight by eating a nutrient-dense, calorie-poor diet and exercising regularly.
- Make at least half of your plate/diet/day be filled with colorful fruits and vegetables. Eat a minimum of 7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
- Eat a whole food, plant-based diet to get a continuous flow of cancer-fighting phytochemicals and fiber running through your GI tract and promoting immune health.
- Avoid meats, fish, dairy, and eggs to decrease toxin load.
- Limit alcohol intake to no more than one serving a day for women and 2 servings a day for men.
- Clean up your environment as best as possible by reducing use of chemicals in your home, in your laundry, on your body, and with the tools, equipment, and cookware you use to cook and prepare food in.
- Practice stress reduction and mindfulness.
- Quit smoking.
- New Dietary Guidelines for Cancer Prevention
- Obesity, Cancer, and a Vegan Diet
- Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer
- American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention
- AICR on Soy and Cancer
- Detoxing Your Home on Reluctantly Healthy
- Eating Whole Food, Plant-Based
- Move More
- Adding Mindfulness to Your Day