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The Link Between Cancer and Diet

Some cancer risk factors, such as genetics and environment, are out of your control, but research suggests that about 70% of your lifetime risk of cancer is within your power to change, including your diet. Avoiding cigarettes, limiting alcohol, reaching a healthy weight, and getting regular exercise are all great steps for preventing cancer. Adopting a healthy diet can also play a vital role.


If you have a history of cancer in your family, making small changes to your diet and behaviours now can make a big difference to your long-term health. And if you’ve already been diagnosed with cancer, eating a nutritious diet can help support your mood and strengthen your body during this challenging time.


ways to build your cancer-prevention diet

To lower your risk for many types of cancer—as well as other serious diseases—aim to build your diet around a variety of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, and healthy fats. At the same time, try to limit the amount of processed and fried foods, unhealthy fats, sugars and refined carbs you consume.


Lower your risk with antioxidants

Plant-based foods are rich in nutrients known as antioxidants that boost your immune system and help protect against cancer cells.


  • Diets high in fruit may lower the risk of stomach and lung cancer.

  • Eating vegetables containing carotenoids, such as carrots, Brussels sprouts, and squash, may reduce the risk of lung, mouth, pharynx, and larynx cancers.

  • Diets high in non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, and beans, may help protect against stomach and oesophageal cancer.

  • Eating oranges, berries, peas, bell peppers, dark leafy greens and other foods high in vitamin C may also protect against oesophageal cancer.

  • Foods high in lycopene, such as tomatoes, guava, and watermelon, may lower the risk of prostate cancer.

Prepare your food in healthy ways

Choosing healthy food is not the only important factor in preventing cancer. It also matters how you prepare, store, and cook your food.

Boosting the cancer-fighting benefits of food

Here are a few tips that will help you get the most benefits from eating all those great cancer-fighting foods, such as fruit and vegetables:

Eat at least some raw fruits and vegetables as they tend to have the highest amounts of vitamins and minerals, although cooking some vegetables can make the vitamins more available for our body to use.

When cooking vegetables, steam only until tender. This preserves more of the vitamins. Overcooking vegetables removes many of the vitamins and minerals. If you do boil vegetables, use the cooking water in a soup or another dish to ensure you’re getting all the vitamins.

Wash all fruits and vegetables. Use a vegetable brush for washing. Washing does not eliminate all pesticide residue but will reduce it.

Flavour food with immune-boosting herbs and spices. Garlic, ginger, and curry powder not only add flavour, but they add a cancer-fighting punch of valuable nutrients. Other good choices include turmeric, basil, rosemary, and coriander. Try using them in soups, salads, and casseroles.


While your diet is central to preventing cancer, other healthy habits can further lower your risk:


  1. Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight. Weight gain, overweight and obesity increases the risk of some cancers, including bowel, breast, prostate, pancreatic, endometrial, kidney, gallbladder, oesophageal, and ovarian cancers.

  2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day. Physical activity decreases the risk of colon, endometrial, and postmenopausal breast cancer. Three 10-minute sessions work just as well, but the key is to find an activity you enjoy and make it a part of your daily life.Limit alcoholic drinks. Limit consumption to no more than two drinks a day for men and one a day for women.

  3. Where possible, aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone, instead of trying to use supplements to protect against cancer.





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