Sixty-five to 85 percent of cancers are believed to be caused by lifestyle choices, including alcohol and tobacco use, sun exposure, physical activity level and the quantity and kinds of foods we eat. What you eat can influence your risk of getting cancer. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, up to 35 percent of all cancers may be related to diet. Thus, you can reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancer by simply changing your eating habits.
You don’t have to give up the foods you like to help protect yourself from cancer. Instead, choose “more often” the foods that might reduce your risks of cancer and choose “less often” the foods that might increase your risks of cancer.
Keep in mind, no single food can prevent cancer; no single dietary slip will cause cancer. However, making positive choices in your diet every day can promote good nutrition and good health and can reduce your risk of some types of cancer.
The American Cancer Society publishes nutrition guidelines to advise the public about dietary practices that reduce cancer risk.
- Choose most of the foods you eat from plant sources.
- Eat five or more serving of fruits and vegetables each day. Scientific research shows that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of cancer of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts.
- Eat other foods from plant sources, such as breads, cereals, grain products or beans several times each day. Eat 6-to-11 servings a day of grains (breads, cereals, grain products, rice and foods made from them).
- Choose whole grains in preference to processed grains, and select beans as an alternative to meat. Grains are an important source of many vitamins and minerals, which are associated with a lower risk of colon cancer.
- Limit your intake of high-fat foods, particularly from animal sources. High-fat diets have been associated with an increase in the risk of cancers of the rectum, prostate and endometrium.
Choose foods low in fat. If you eat luncheon and variety meats, choose those that are labeled “reduced fat content”.
- Limit consumption of meats, especially high-fat meats. To reduce the fat in your diet, choose more often the lean cuts of beef, lamb and pork and less often the high-fat cuts. Trim away all the fat you can see before you cook the meat and again before you eat it.
- Be physically active: Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
- Be at least moderately active for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week.
- Stay within your healthy weight range.
- Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages, if you drink at all. Risk of cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed and may start to rise with as few as two drinks a day.