I’ve written about nutrition and cancer prevention, but it’s been a while. It’s a subject that I’m very interested in, personally and otherwise, but nutrition plays a role in so many diseases…and it took a while for my acute care class to get around to cancer.
We had a great lecture yesterday from a local oncology dietitian, and part of the discussion was the set of 10 cancer prevention guidelines from the American Institute of Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund. Which I will share with you right now!
- Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
- Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
- Limit consumption of energy-dense foods and avoid sugary drinks.
- Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes (such as beans).
- Limit consumption of red meat (beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats.*
- If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 a day for man, 1 a day for women.
- Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).
- Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer. Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone.**
- It’s best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to 6 months, and then add liquids and other foods.
- After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.
* To get more specific, the risk of cancer (mainly colorectal cancer) from red meat doesn’t increase until we exceed 18 ounces a week. That’s six 3-ounce portions, or three 6-ounce portions, depending on your appetite. However, no amount of processed meat (salami, pastrami, ham, bacon, sausages, hot dogs) has been deemed safe: cancer risk increases with any portion.
**Research from the long-running Physicians Health Study, recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that men who took a daily multivitamin cut cancer risk by an average of 8 percent. However, 1 in 3 cancers (33 percent) are related to nutrition and lifestyle: poor diet, overweight/obesity and lack of physical activity. The 33 percent risk reduction you could get by living an overall healthy lifestyle looks a lot better than the 8 percent from popping a multivitamin.
Does anything look familiar about this list of recommendations? That’s right…they aren’t all that different from the recommendations for preventing type 2 diabetes or heart disease. And they are also in line with the type of lifestyle that can help you feel great, every day. I love it when everything comes together!
If you want to learn more…and I mean really learn more…you can download the WCRF/AIRC Second Expert Report. It’s a big, hulking PDF document, but you can download it for free after registering (also free). I haven’t looked at it for a while (I downloaded it a few years ago), but there is a wealth of interesting, solid information there.