Warning: Are you at risk for cancer? Part of maximizing your human potential is keeping a healthy mind, body, and spirit. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, there were over 18 million diagnosed cases of cancer in 2020. The highest rate of death from cancer in women was in Zimbabwe. Many deaths may go undiagnosed. But there is one area that can be addressed to lower your risk of cancer - diet.
There is no one specific "anti-cancer" diet that has been proven to prevent cancer, but there are certain dietary choices that may help reduce the risk of developing cancer. Here are some dietary recommendations that may be helpful:
1. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which help protect the body from damage caused by harmful substances known as free radicals. Aim to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Here are some fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants: blueberries, red kidney beans, pinto beans, cranberries, artichoke, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, goji berries, kale, spinach, red cabbage, and beets.
2. Choose whole grains: Whole grains are rich in fiber, which can help reduce the risk of colon cancer. Whole-grain foods include whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal.
3. Limit red and processed meats: Eating large amounts of red and processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, and hot dogs, has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, particularly colon cancer. Try to limit your intake of these foods.
4. Choose lean protein sources: Instead of red and processed meats, choose lean protein sources such as fish, poultry, beans, and lentils.
5. Limit alcohol intake: Drinking alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, including breast, liver, and colon cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit your intake to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
6. Avoid sugary drinks: Sugary drinks such as soda and fruit juice have been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, including pancreatic cancer. Instead, choose water or unsweetened beverages.
It's important to remember that no single food or dietary pattern can prevent cancer on its own. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight, along with other healthy lifestyle choices such as regular exercise and not smoking, can help reduce the risk of cancer.
Foods that Help Fight Cancer
Green tea is a powerful antioxidant and may be an important part of an anti-cancer diet.
Tomatoes. Research confirms that the antioxidant lycopene, which is in tomatoes, may be more powerful than beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and vitamin E. Lycopene is a cancer-fighting food associated with protection against certain cancers such as prostate and lung cancer. Be sure to cook the tomatoes, as this method releases the lycopene and makes it available to your body.
Use olive oil. In Mediterranean countries, this monounsaturated fat is widely used for both cooking and salad oil and may be a cancer-fighting food. Breast cancer rates are 50 percent lower in Mediterranean countries than in the United States.
Grapes. Red grapes have seeds filled with the super antioxidant activin. This cancer-fighting chemical, also found in red wine and red-grape juice, may offer significant protection against certain types of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic degenerative diseases.
Garlic and onions. Research has found that garlic and onions can block the formation of nitrosamines, powerful carcinogens that target several sites in the body, usually the colon, liver, and breasts.
Fatty fish. Salmon, tuna, and herring — contain omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fatty acid that has been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
Flaxseed. Flaxseed is another good source of omega-3s.
Fighting Cancer Risk
Eating too much of anything can increase body fat, which increases your cancer risk. Obesity is linked to 12 types of cancer.
"Foods that are lower in calories and sugar and higher in fiber can help you manage your weight. “Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your cancer risk."