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Can the Right Diet Prevent Cancer?

There's no such thing as a diet that prevents cancer because diet is only one of many factors in this complex disease. However, there are ways to reduce your risk. Nutrition Diva has 5 of the most important things you can do.  (Surprise: Eating organic isn't one of them!)

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
March 12, 2014
Episode #275

Page 2 of 2

5 Ways to Reduce Your Cancer Risk

Tip #1: Cut Down on Alcohol. Alcohol consumption increases your risk of several types of cancer, including two of the most common forms: colorectal and breast cancer. Even very moderate alcohol consumption, which can benefit your heart, carries some risk. No-one should drink more than the recommended 1-2 drinks per day but those with increased risk (or fear) of cancer, should consider abstaining entirely.

See also: How Much Alcohol Is Healthy?

 

Tip #2: Be More Active. Even modest amounts of physical activity can reduce your risk of cancer, both directly and indirectly. Exercise is beneficial all by itself and also can help to maintain a healthy body weight, which further reduces your risk. Small efforts can really add up here: taking stairs instead of elevators and escalators, parking further from the door, and standing up during meetings and conference calls can all help reduce the amount of time you spend sitting. I installed a free widget on my computer that suggests a different stretch or brief exercise every 30 minutes. 

See also: Can Exercise Help Treat Cancer?

 

Tip #3: Respect Your Circadian Rhythm. We may live in a 24-hour news cycle, but humans are still diurnal mammals. We need regular sleep, preferably in the dark. Among other things, this optimizes the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Try to reduce your exposure to artificial light (especially from electronic devices) in the hours before bedtime and make your bedroom as dark as you can (or sleep with a mask on).

See also: Nutrition Tips for Night Shift Workers and Technology to Help You Sleep

 

Tip #4: Limit Your Sugar Intake.  Contrary to urban legend, sugar doesn’t “feed” cancer nor does avoiding sugar “starve” cancer cells. There is, however, a connection. Diets with a high glycemic load have been linked to increased risk of cancer, and being diabetic also increases your risk. Avoiding sweetened beverages and juice, limiting sweets and refined sugars, and focusing on whole, minimally processed foods will help you keep your blood sugar steady and also support healthy body weight.

See also: Can You Reverse Diabetes with Diet?

 

Tip #5: Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables. (You knew that was coming, right?) Eating the recommended 5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings fruit every day provides a rainbow of cancer-protective phytonutrients, helps facilitate weight control, and displaces less healthy foods from your diet. You don’t need to eat special “superfoods”—just try to get a good variety. Buy organic if you can, but don’t stress if you can’t. The benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables far outweighs the potential risk from pesticides.

See also: Which Vegetables Are Best?

 

More Resources

Recommendations for Cancer Prevention (American Institute for Cancer Research)

Radiation: Facts, Risks and Realities (Environmental Protection Organization)

Pesticide Residues in Food and Cancer Risk (Handbook of Pesticide Toxicology)

 

Vegetable image courtesy of Shutterstock

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